2016 CAA : Geometric Abstraction, Op, and Kinetic Art in Transnational Perspective

For the 2016 CAA conference in Washington, DC, Lily Woodruff and Daniel Quiles have organized a panel titled “Politics of the Performing Eye: Kinetic Art, Op Art and Geometric Abstraction in a Trans-national Perspective.” The panel seeks to deepen our historical understanding of op and kinetic art by situating them within the theoretical and political contexts in which they developed.

During the 1950s and 1960s, geometric abstraction, Op and kinetic art flourished as international styles that linked artists across the globe. These practices were animated by socialist and phenomenological discourses that appealed to visual perception and interactivity as ways to democratize artistic culture. Eliminating elite cultural references, these artists aimed to train or stimulate perception as a gateway toward broader viewer participation. Recent scholarship has brought attention to how these rationalized visual languages became prominent outside of the North Atlantic due to the internationalization of a network of artists and collectives. Has the appeal to the eye been accompanied, however, by universalist assumptions that flatten local particularities? We encourage papers that demonstrate how geometric, Op, and kinetic practices connect or break with the historical avant-gardes, while situating their innovations with- in broader social constellations such as urbanism, cybernetics, or labor.

Chairs:  Lily Woodruff, Michigan State University and Daniel R. Quiles, School of the Art Institute of Chicago


Synthesis in Parallax
Monica M. Amor, Maryland Institute College of Art

Cosmopolitanism and Belonging in South American Abstraction
Megan A. Sullivan, University of Chicago

Op Art on the Other Shore: Masking Vision in the Revolutionary Mediterranean
Anneka E. Lenssen, Assistant Professor, Global Modern Art, History of Art Department, University of California, Berkeley

The Poetics and Politics of Light: The Center for Advanced Visual Studies and the Global Cold War
John Blakinger, Stanford University

Colorful Montreal: Modern Architecture, Urban Life, and the 1960s Abstract Murals of Jean-Paul Mousseau
Nicola Pezolet, Concordia University, Montreal

Discussant:  Kaira M. Cabanas, University of Florida, Gainesville


Time: 02/04/2016, 9:30 AM—12:00 PM

Location: Wilson B, Mezzanine Level