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Movements > Process art

U.S. and Europe, mid-1960s

Process art emphasizes the “process” of making art (rather than any predetermined composition or plan) and the concepts of change and transience, as elaborated in the work of such artists as Lynda Benglis, Eva Hesse, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Alan Saret, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, and Keith Sonnier. Their interest in process and the properties of materials as determining factors has precedents in the Abstract Expressionists’ use of unconventional methods such as dripping and staining. In a ground-breaking essay and exhibition in 1968, Morris posited the notion of “anti-form” as a basis for making art works in terms of process and time rather than as static and enduring icons, which he associated with “object-type” art. Morris stressed this new art’s de-emphasis of order through nonrigid materials, pioneered by Claes Oldenburg, and the manipulation of those materials through the processes of gravity, stacking, piling, and hanging. 

Process artists were involved in issues attendant to the body, random occurrences, improvisation, and the liberating qualities of nontraditional materials such as wax, felt, and latex. Using these, they created eccentric forms in erratic or irregular arrangements produced by actions such as cutting, hanging, and dropping, or organic processes such as growth, condensation, freezing, or decomposition.

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Constantin Brancusi, Muse, 1912

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