“Our art is involved with life; it is concerned with humanity, with emotion. We will not listen to explanations from or about the technically minded artist of yesterday. Just as abstract expressionism – the art of the fifties – was superseded by pop, op, hard edge, minimal and color field the art of the sixties – so now a new art, a humanistic art, will characterize the seventies.
Our art owes little to what many aestheticians refer to as the important technical revolution” in art. We are not concerned with making pure color or pure form the subject of the painting; we are concerned with, and express, a harsher reality – harsher, that is, than the cotton-candy world that advertising men would have all of us believe we live in. Nor does our work allow a pleasant, self-indulgent escape; for it is a product of our awareness of the state of the world we do live in. We have ignored the dictates of Madison Avenue businessmen, be they copywriters or gallery dealers, and our work has nothing to do with current aesthetics; it exists without the permission of the nail-polished artists who swish over reality. Madison Avenue has sold what is called “the art of the United States” with fantastic success, paralleled only by the success they’ve had in making Coca-Cola an international “buyword.” Yet the current-day altarpieces won’t communicate to people living beyond the fringe of stainless steel. Realize when you see our work that the so-called “thirty years of painting and sculpture” in this country has been built on a lie; it has been packaged, promoted and super-sold by ambitious critics, dealers and curators trying to build their own reputation I as they fatten their bankrolls.
You are masochists, Mr. and Mrs. America, masochists or fools. Don’t you see that spray-gun art insults your intelligence? Don’t you see that it’s a product aimed in its inoffensive decorativeness at cardboard people who live non-thinking existences? And this doesn’t INSULT you? Or perhaps we overestimate you. Perhaps you are very cozy in your consumer passivity, happy only when spoon-fed or dictated to.
Some say we are too coarse for the temperament of today. These same hypocrites sit smugly in front of the daily newscasts of Vietnam. Or say our art is “hard to take.” We say to hell with you! Our art won’t be accepted by those who prefer a dream-world kubla-khan to an encounter with people and emotion. And yes, our art is coarse – by current aesthetic standards, that is. But is it not odd that in this age of deep and growing concern with the horrors we perpetrate on ourselves and export to other countries, in this time of political activism, that the art you laud is completely divorced from humanity and concern? Has it ever occurred to you that this art is anti-life?
Our work is strong and demanding – of all of your faculties. It has integrity in all senses of the word. We don’t hand graph paper designs over to engineers and contractors to be executed; we don’t give you fluorescent lights, red yellow blue, white on white, or the straightest lines in the world. We have enormous visual appetites and are as interested in the baroque and classical forms of fine art as in the novelties of 42nd Street; moreover, we are able to assimilate such opposites into a whole. The mediums we use also are culled from all sources.
We don’t totally ignore the new materials discovered by the artists we reject as technicians – the difference is that we incorporate these materials into a total vision of today’s society instead of saying these materials themselves represent society. The struggle, the art, is to unite material with image. That technically oriented people are earnestly trying to communicate on a human level through technology is bizarre. Our exhibition is a step in a new direction. The show we have assembled is concerned with the human image. The message is not the medium. We are interested in man. The paintings and sculptures are involved with the world of knowing and feeling and questioning man; our art interprets and respects the viewer – not his products, not his technology. If the mirror we hold is too revealing, the image too harsh, the fault, dear Brutus, lies in yourself.”