CalArts Alumni Magazine
CalArts, unknown, ca. 1971-1972. B/w photograph. California Institute of the Arts Archives Photographic Materials Collection. CalArts, unknown, ca. 1971-1972. B/w photograph. California Institute of the Arts Archives Photographic Materials Collection.

A situation where art might happen

The Kestner Gesellschaft’s Where Art Might Happen: The Early Years of CalArts takes a magnifying glass to the Institute’s first decade (1970–1980) and the legendary artists it produced during this era and beyond. The show’s title refers to a John Baldessari quote about his belief that art was not teachable, but that one could set up “a situation where art might happen.” The exhibition, curated by Los Angeles-based Dr. Philipp Kaiser and Christina Végh, director of the Kestner Gesellschaft, was on view from Aug. 30 to Nov. 10 in Hanover, Germany.

Alumni in the show include Ericka Beckman (Art MFA 76), Ross Bleckner (Art MFA 73), Barbara Bloom (Art BFA 72), Troy Brauntuch (Art BFA 75), Klaus vom Bruch (Art 76), Dorit Cypis (Art MFA 77), Eric Fischl (Art BFA 72), Jack Goldstein (Art MFA 72), Mike Kelley (Art MFA 78), Suzanne Lacy (Art MFA 73), Matt Mullican (Art BFA 74), Daniel Joseph Martinez (Art BFA 79), John Miller (Art MFA 79), Susan Mogul (Art 73), Tony Oursler (Art BFA 79), Charlemagne Palestine (Music 71), Stephen Prina (Art MFA 80), Anthony Ramos (Art MFA 72), David Salle (Art BFA 73), Mira Schor (Art MFA 73), Jim Shaw (Art MFA 78), Mitchell Syrop (Art MFA 78), Carrie Mae Weems (Art BFA 81), James Welling (Art MFA 74, BFA 72), Faith Wilding (Critical Studies MFA 73), and Christopher Williams (Art MFA 81). The exhibition also showcases works from artists affiliated with the Institute, such as Simone Forti and Ann Noël.

Former faculty members include Michael Asher, David Askevold, John Baldessari, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Judy Chicago, Douglas Huebler, Stephan von Huene, Allan Kaprow, Alison Knowles, Ulrike Rosenbach, Miriam Schapiro, Wolfgang Stoerchle, and Emmett Williams.

Complete with archival materials, artwork, and recordings of oral histories with 13 CalArtians, the exhibition presents a variety of perspectives on the school: parallel movements from the milieus of Conceptual Art, feminist art, and Fluxus as well as the school’s radical pedagogical concepts.

Where Art Might Happen travels next to the Kunsthaus Graz in Austria, where it will be on view from March 13 to June 7, 2020.