From today’s perspective, there is something especially intriguing about the late 1960s and early 1970s. Perhaps the impulse to revisit this period is one of nostalgia for its artistic innovations and redefinition of the art object. Or it may be that we admire a period in which art, culture and politics seemed to mesh so easily, especially in the late 1960s, when so many dramatic events were internationally felt. 

Student riots in Paris, assassinations in the United States and worldwide protests over the war in Vietnam were the scenarios of the day, as virtually every mode of authority and order was under attack. All this was taking place against a backdrop of technological and communications innovations that we now see as the foundations of today’s global society. 

Open Systems: Rethinking Art c.1970 investigates some of the themes and issues arising during this seminal period in contemporary art by focusing on the work of thirty-one international artists with roots in the critical moments of the early 1960s for whom the development of a more culturally, socially and politically responsive art became paramount. These artists evolved new and more fluid ways of thinking about art in the world. 

Building upon the structures and systems of Fluxus, Neo-Concretism, Minimalism and Conceptualism, all of the artists included here are linked by their use of a generative or repetitive system as a way of redefining the work of art, the self and the nature of representation. This book traces some of the ways in which these artists drew parallels between their aesthetic systems and those of the real world, a development that was to have tremendous influence on artists for decades to come.