The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia / The Guggenheim Museum
The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860–1989
Exhibition > April 19, 2009
From January 30 to April 19, 2009, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will present The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860–1989, an exhibition that illuminates the dynamic and complex impact of Asian art, literature, music, and philosophical concepts on American art. The exhibition features approximately 250 works by more than 100 artists across a broad range of media—including painting, sculpture, video art, installations, works on paper, film, live performance, literary works, and ephemera—and draws from over 100 major museum and private collections in North America, Europe, and Japan.
Time of Change, 1943
Tempera on paper, 61 x 76.2 cm
© Morris Graves Foundation
Photo: Richard Nicol
Approximately 250 Works by 100 Artists and Literary Figures from James McNeill Whistler to Robert Rauschenberg and from Ezra Pound to Allen Ginsberg
Exhibition Features Site-Specific Commission by Ann Hamilton and Live Performances by Laurie Anderson, Meredith Monk, and Robert Wilson
The Third Mind proposes a new art-historical construct––one that challenges the widely accepted view that American modern art developed simply as a dialogue with Europe––by focusing on the myriad ways in which vanguard American artists’ engagement with Asian art, literature, music, and philosophical concepts inspired them to forge an independent artistic identity that would define the modern age and the modern mind. These artists developed a new understanding of existence, nature, and consciousness through their prolonged engagement with Eastern religions (Hinduism, Tantric and Chan/Zen Buddhism, Taoism), classical Asian art forms, and living performance traditions. Japanese art and Zen Buddhism dominated in part because America’s political and economic ties with Japan were historically stronger than those with China or India, the other prime source nations examined in this exhibition.
Beginning with the late nineteenth-century American Aesthetic movement and the ideas promulgated in transcendentalist circles, The Third Mind illuminates the Asian influences shaping such other major movements as abstract art, Conceptual art, Minimalism, and the neo-avant-garde as they unfolded in New York and on the West Coast. It also presents select developments in modern poetry, music, and dancetheater. According to Ms. Munroe, “What emerges is a history of how artists working in America interpreted, mediated, and incorporated Eastern ideas and art forms to create not only new styles of art, but more importantly, a new theoretical definition of the contemplative experience and selftransformative role for art itself.”
The title of the exhibition refers to Untitled (“Rub Out the Word”) from The Third Mind (ca. 1965), a “cut-ups” work by Beat writers William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, which combines and rearranges unrelated texts to create a new narrative. The mixed-media piece, which will be on view, evokes the eclectic method by which American artists adapted ideas from Asia to create new forms, structures, and meanings for their own art.
The Circle, Triangle, and Square, Edo period, early 19th century
Ink on paper, 28.4 x 48.1 cm
Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo
© All Rights reserved
Photo: Richard Nicol
New River Watercolor Series I, #5, 1988
Watercolor on parchment paper, 45.7 x 91.4 cm
Collection of Ray Kass
© The John Cage Trust at Bard College
Photo: The Mountain Lake Workshop, Virginia Tech Photographic Service
Fog Horns, 1929
Oil on canvas, 54.6 x 72.4 cm
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Anonymous Gift
© The Estate of Arthur G. Dove
The Third Mind features over 100 artists and literary figures from artistic communities throughout the United States, including those in Boston, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The artists are selected for their demonstrable use of Asian aesthetics, techniques, and/or materials;, their engagement with Asian philosophies; or their experience with forms of Asian spiritual practice. The key artists represented in the exhibition include, chronologically per the exhibition layout: James McNeill Whistler, John LaFarge, Mary Cassatt, Arthur Wesley Dow, Augustus Vincent Tack, Georgia O’Keefe, Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Ezra Pound, David Smith, Isamu Noguchi, John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Nam June Paik, Yoko Ono, La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Jordan Belson, Ad Reinhardt, Anne Truitt, Agnes Martin, Dan Flavin, Walter de Maria, Adrian Piper, Tehching Hsieh, and Bill Viola.
- © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
© Images. All Rights reserved