The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
Lucy Lippard recounts a history of art in the United States during the 1970s and ‘80s centered on cultural mixing. She begins by attesting to the failure of the idea of the “melting pot” in the United States. Instead, she argues that Western culture has been reshaped by minority cultures, citing the Latin American concept of mestizaje as an exemplar of how a new hybrid culture can be produced by a combination of local and international cultures. Lippard’s history begins with New York in the 1970s, with her account of how graffiti art infiltrated galleries and influenced 1980s trends such as the rise of neo-Expressionist painting. She recounts how artists such as John Ahearn and Tim Rollins collaborated with local communities in the South Bronx during the 1980s. Moving to the West Coast, she continues to consider activism in Chicano artist Rupert Garcia’s work, and in projects by David Avalos, Elizabeth Sisco, and Louis Hock about undocumented works in San Diego. African-American (including David Hammons and Adrian Piper), Native-American, and Asian artists are discussed as examining race and the problems of “bi-racial” identity in the U.S. Lippard ends by emphasizing that the challenge to these artists is to maintain their own cultural identity while participating in the mainstream.
This text by Lucy R. Lippard appeared as a chapter in her 1990 book Mixed Blessings. New York- based critic Lippard has written (currently in New Mexico) numerous revisionist histories of contemporary U.S. art, with varying emphases on feminism, conceptualism, and multiculturalism. This text testifies to how Latino, Asian, and other “minority” artists were coming to the attention of mainstream critics during the late- 1980s and early- 1990s, and, in the process, changing how they understood the recent history of art in the United States. This chapter by Lippard effectively reads as alternative, multicultural history of art in the United States since the 1970s. Hybridity and cultural mixing, and collaboration and community activism were, for Lippard, the kind of socially-motivated artistic innovations that were spurred by the economic and political marginalization of Latinos, Asians, African-Americans, and Native Americans during this period. As a result rich pockets of artistic innovation occurred in urban centers such as New York and Los Angeles, and in regions along the US border with Mexico. Lippard interweaves her history of art with relevant social and political developments, citing, for example, how the Chicano artistic movement was related to the revival of indigenismo and the myth of Aztlán. In this insight, intellectual and political roots in Marxism and 1960s activism determine her point of view. Lippard is eager to legitimize art whose value is social rather than monetary, and she wants her readers to find unity and understanding in racial and cultural difference.