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BYU MOA Exhibition Explores 'Turning Point' in American Art History
Frank Stella.

PROVO, UT.- The tumultuous, and sometimes violent, revolts against authority in the 1960s changed the social and political fabric of America. Near the end of the decade, an artistic revolution against the visual art establishment marked the end of a 100-year trajectory of artistic development and ushered in the beginning of a new era for artistic expression.

“Turning Point: The Demise of Modernism and the Rebirth of Meaning in American Art” — on view at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art through Jan. 3, 2009 — will explore how two groups of American artists in the late 1960s rebelled against Modernist abstraction by creating artworks that directly challenged Modernism’s theoretical tenets. The 30 artworks in the exhibition will include large abstract paintings by Modernist adherents Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, and Frank Stella; Minimalist works by Ronald Bladen, Donald Judd and Robert Morris; and conceptual works by Terry Atkinson, Robert Berry, Ian Burn, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, Mel Ramsden, Lawrence Weiner and Sol LeWitt.

“This exhibition is an important historical exhibition focusing on a narrow but highly significant period in American and world art history,” said Museum of Art Director Campbell Gray. “The period extends from 1960 until 1972 — that moment when the tenets of Modernist art collapsed under pressure from newer forms of artistic expression. At this moment, the United States of America had the greatest influence on the history of world art, and the results of the change formed the foundation of all that we see in contemporary art today.”

The exhibition will also include works by contemporary artists Jenny Holzer, Byron Kim, Marco Maggi, Maggie Michael and Georges Rousse. These works, in proximity to the works of the Modernists, Minimalists and Conceptual Artists, will help visitors understand how the reaction against Modernism opened the door for a wide variety of voices to be expressed in a diverse array media.

“These rebels of the late 1960s restored volume, space, context, and most important, a recognition of an intellectually and emotionally engaged viewer to the art experience,” Gray said. “They repudiated the idea of a single, ruling art authority, and opened the door for many voices to be heard and many paths of meaning to be pursued. The richness and vitality of today’s post-modernist art world owes much to the Minimalist and Conceptual artists of the late 1960s whose revisionist ideas remade the art world.”

“Turning Point: The Demise of Modernism and the Rebirth of Meaning” will be on view in the Marian Adelaide Morris Cannon Gallery on the museum’s main level. Works in the exhibition are drawn from the collections of the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Mass.; the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio; the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin; the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; the St. Louis Art Museum and the Mildred Kemper Lane Art Museum in St. Louis, Mo.; the National Gallery of Australia; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minn.

Admission to this exhibition is free of charge. The Museum of Art is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Sunday. For more information about the museum, visitors can call (801) 422-8287 or visit

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