Topic: Allan Kaprow on context conditions

Alan Kaprow wrote in 1966 about the restrictions of the gallery space, which he termed the "picture shop"-model. He later also directly made reference to Robert Morris and his article on "Anti-Form" . Both discuss the possibilities of delimitation of art in dealing with the rectangular surface of the panel (Morris) and the rectangular space of the gallery (Kaprow). Morris makes reference to Jackson Pollock and his all-over-paintings, saying that Pollock came closest to exploding the limitations of the frame.  The problem hence is one of material surface and frame vs. potentially unlimited visual field (or unlimited artistic imagination). Kaprow however argues, that this was less a problem of the artwork than of it's presentation, arguing clearly for a relational aesthetic.


"It may be proposed that the context, or surrounding, of art is more potent, more meaningful, more demanding of an artist's attention, than the art itself. Put differently, it's not what the artists touches that counts most. It's what he doesn't touch."

Allan Kaprow: Assemblage, Environments & Happenings, 1966



The issue is of course a different one here, but I find in this quote the resonance of Michael Fried's argument, that there was a huge divide between artistic intention and reception in minimalist art. Kaprow is also saying that there is alot that escapes the artistic practice and that this residue might in fact determine the whole perception.

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Re: Allan Kaprow on context conditions

In the 50s and 60s – which is his main era of concern – the paintings started to take over the wall, literally invade the wall. O’Doherty writes that group exhibitions soon looked like the Balkan, with territory wars waging and everybody trying to steel some ground and push the others aside. The question arose, how much space does a painting need. By breaking the rectangular frame, the wall also became a focus, meaning the audience started to perceive the whole space. The space thereby becomes part of the artwork – which O’Doherty does not say. (But for example Karpow clearly stated)