Part of the mission of the Museum of Contemporary Art is to represent the work of artists from the 1960s to the present. That’s the purpose behind the museum’s next feature exhibit, “ReFocus: Art of the ‘60s.”
The exhibit is the first of a one-year, three-part series that will showcase the work of some of the most well-known artists of the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
The collection also is a study of the trends they developed that will likely continue to influence contemporary art as it evolves.
Those influences include pop art, op art, color field painting, minimalism and performance art. Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg and Mark Rothko are some of the artists represented.
The content of each exhibit in the series consists of objects from the museum’s permanent collection and examples loaned from private collections.
“The emphasis of the exhibits is education. Contemporary art isn’t the easiest to understand. Understanding how contemporary art started makes it easier to understand what it is today,” said Marcelle Polednik, MOCA director.
“These exhibits are a way to expand that understanding,” she said.
MOCA Curator Ben Thompson described the three decades examined in “ReFocus” as pivotal periods for contemporary art.
In the 1960s, artists began using commercial techniques in fine art practice, like Warhol did for his iconic painting of a can of Campbell’s tomato soup.
“We look at the ‘60s as a period of emergence of ideas,” Thompson said.
In the 1970s, artists began experimenting with performance art and new media.
Thompson said MOCA’s “Project Atrium” is a prime example of performance art. The current sculpture installation, “Empty Altar/Empty Throne” by Gustavo Godoy, was assembled in the space by the artist, allowing museum guests to observe the artist at work over several days.
“The space was a stage. It was a performance process,” said Thompson.
“MOCA is a place for artists and the community to come together. With contemporary art, artists can engage with the community,” Polednik said.
In addition to the traditional gallery experience, MOCA is offering other programs to expand on the concept behind the exhibit. The films, lectures and panel discussions, free and open to the public, will be hosted by Polednik and art educators from the University of North Florida.
“We’re trying to hit as many educational avenues as we can,” said Polednik.
The exhibit will open Saturday with a block party along Laura Street in front of the museum. MOCA staff, museum volunteers and UNF students will be stationed in the gallery to provide explanations and insights about the work on display.
For museum hours, admission and membership information and the schedule of free public programs associated with the exhibit, visit mocajacksonville.org.