Topology

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When I wandered through New York, I felt as if a cosmic energy was flowing through me. 1

Christian Zaschke, Süddeutsche Zeitung

It was this energy that numerous artists described after World War II when they settled in New York to live and work. Next to the prominent group of Abstract Expressionists there was a loose gathering of various artists who, from the 1950s until around 1963, settled at a section of the harbor in Lower Manhattan, the so-called Coenties Slip. Among them were Robert Indiana, Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly, Lenore Tawney and James Rosenquist.

The living situation in the dilapidated lofts at Coenties Slip was rough. Nevertheless, the living space was cheap and could be optimally used as a studio for the production of large-format works. Additionally, the maritime setting in close proximity to the Brooklyn Bridge and the riverbank as well as the remains of shipping traffic were a welcome influence on the artist’s production processes.

During the International Summer School, these environmental conditions of urban New York as well as their influences on the artworks are analyzed and discussed from topological, socio-theoretical and institutional standpoints. Therefore, it is a privilege to have Michelle White, curator of the Menil Collection, as well as Janice Mitchell and Romina Dümler from the Museum Ludwig as participating experts for topological concerns during the Summer School. 

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The following more detailed questions on topological issues will be an open guideline for our discussions during the International Summer School:

  • How did space and production on the Coenties Slip condition each other?
  • What impact has the spatial location in New York for these artists, and vice versa, how did the artistic practices and the joint action shape the space (including the replacement of Paris as an art metropolis by New York)? 
  • And, more general, which influence take topological phenomena on the actions of the artists?

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1 Christian Zaschke: Was von New York bleibt, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung Online, 2020, URL: https://www.sueddeutsche.de/leben/new-york-city-coronavirus-kultur-1.4884036?reduced=true.