The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989
Guggenheim Museum, Nowy Jork, 2009
This exhibition traces how Asian art, literature, and philosophy were transmitted and transformed within American cultural and intellectual currents, influencing the articulation of new visual and conceptual languages. Exhibition shows how artists working in America adapted 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 self-transformative role of art itself.
Vanguard artists consistently looked toward „the East” to forge an independent artistic identity that would define the modern age—and the modern mind—through a new understanding of existence, nature, and consciousness. They drew ideas from Eastern religions, primarily Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, as well as classical Asian art forms and performance traditions. Opening with the late nineteenth-century Aesthetic movement and the ideas promulgated in transcendentalist circles, The Third Mind illuminates the Asian influences shaping such 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 dance theater.
The Third Mind refers to a „cut-ups” work by Beat writers William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, whose cult of spontaneity in art and life drew inspiration from Asian attitudes. This manuscript composed of random texts and images evokes the eclectic yet purposeful method by which American artists often appropriated material from Asia to create new forms, structures, and meanings in their work. Misreadings, mediations, denials, and imaginary projections emerge as important iterations of this creative process. (…)