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MARCH GALLERY | 95 East 10th Street | New York | April 1961

With Isser Aronovici + Rocco Armento + Al D'Arcangelo + Herb Brown + Ferró (Erro) + John Fisher + Stanley Fisher + Esther Gilman + Sam Goodman + Gloria Graves + Dorothy Gillespie + Ted Joans + Allan Kaprow + Yayoi Kusama + Jean-Jacques Lebel + Bob Logan + Lora + Suzan Long + Boris Lurie + Mihal Mishorit + Jerome Rothenber + Michelle Stuart + Richard Tyler + Ray Wisniewski + Lee Zack.


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Involvement poster, 1961

A new art show at the March Gallery presents an iconoclastic scouring of our world gone mad. A satirical declaration of independence against uncommitted and the shallow common place. It is an exciting show, a show in which Involvement and Innocence become the sacred symbols of survival. The show includes oil paintings, collages, drawings, and mixed media.

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Run! Hide! Scream!!
While You May.
Walls are
Shattering, The Ground Crumbling
The Air
A Cry ...
In This Wilderness
Of Desolation
And secure us with shallow, repetitious decorations.
An escapist fireplace to warm our illusions over.
A blank wall to cogitate inactive withdrawal.
Cold geometries calculate our final destiny-a fallout of annihilation.

The plastic arts do have the magic, the answers, the potency for the dedicated, searching and humanly invoIved artist, more than ever in our times.

The March Gallery is a co-op gallery where the artist spends his own hard earned money
and time not only on paint and canvas and materials of his craft,
but must pay rent on the gallery, electricity, printing, mailing, photographs, etc., etc.

We at the March Gallery have something to say . . .

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■ Welcome to this exhibition. If your eyes and mind serve you well, you will see something new. When viewing this show, please avoid applying aesthetic labels; do not call us realists, neo-dadaists, surrealists. These labels are neither true nor important in today's context. Formalist distinctions do not apply here. Aesthetics are generally viewed as a fixed, solid entity: we look upon it as the reflection of changing reality. The ivory tower is no substitute for Involvement in life. In a time of wars and extermination, aesthetic exercises and decorative patterns are not enough.

■ We are not 'abstract', 'non-objective', 'representational', alone- rather, we are all of it: we want to use all inventions, past or present, without discrimination as to 'styles'. Totality is seen as a composite of all aspects: limiting, purist, puritanical approaches are rejected. We are not playful! We want to build art and not destroy it, but we say exactly what we mean - at the expense of good manners. You will find no secret languages here, no fancy escapes, no hushed, muted silences, no messages beamed at exclusive audiences. Art is a tool of influence and urging. We want to talk, to shout, so that everybody can understand. Our only master is truth.

■ New frontiers ... old frontiers. Is it true it only took one man to awaken the world?

■Eichmann alive ... Eichmann dead ... who cares for Eichmann? Now they tell us all about the concentration camps. Bergen-Belsen has been turned into a beautiful park. Thousands kept on starving after the Liberation.

■ Was it right to kidnap Eichmann? International law? Who brought the capture about? One man?
Look down. What do you see? Count the dead! Count the living? What do you hear? Silence. How can they be counted?

■ Millions worth of publicity.

■ We have absolutely nothing to sell! Some people get very uncomfortable in their cages - nothing seems as credible as before (the ghosts started their parade in New York).
Even the Dead had been in hiding, so long, deprived of the right of self-expression. They are much more at peace now that the newspapers have remembered them. But it only took one determined man to accomplish all this.

■ Buried, covered up, sick, mouldy consciences; open up! Man might be helpless, but faith has moved a mountain. Fresh air blows through these putrid canyons?! Platitudes and sophistries.

■ Deceit, conceit, lies.

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Involvement hits below the belt. And at the private parts above, too. It deals a lethal blow to the ideology of dog eat dog. There is no escape here. Even your deodorants will sweat. No ivory tower of dribbling design or cocktail color.

You will never be the same , nor will you want to be after viewing this show which is galvanizing art into a modern crisis.

The new March Gallery is a citadel for the idealistic, and bastion for those who would like to make a last stand against the commercial depredation of uptown galleries. We stand on the threshold of a new art, and art committed to speak out, an art involved with issues. We are not afraid of confronting the Hiroshima Hells and Buchenwalds of a world in trouble. We offer no tranquilizers. We face the truth. But to become the truth is blasphemous, and we have become the truth.

Anti-art uses all the groping varicose brains of science fiction and the Pin-up cheesecake of the calendar magazines and the gloss of Life and Times and the plush-slush comic strips and the byzantine Boweries of Lower Broadway and the balling Off-Broadway and Buchenwald and H-bombs bopping and the colored condoms of that detention-dimension, Hollywood, and its vomitorium of video.

Anti-art is the art in which men are blue, monsters are framed-up and beasts leap from stool pigeon penthouses of pink-mink. It is the art in which meeting the ground at 100000 miles an hour becomes glamorous and tires are made from the belly button. Mickey Mouse travels to Laos with Saint Dulles and is murdered by a snowball that has been blown from Tibet by a forty-five millimetre monk. He decides that Doom is more sporting in Los Angeles where plate windows make bad wings of blood on their victims. Mad Magazine undersells a brassiere factory and all chic's in NYC wear shirts stuffed with Alfred E. Neuman and he tickles too like crazy. What a scene on subways, automate, laundromat, ladies room, powder room, blue room, and Hawaiian room! Marilyn Monroe is found with an ash tray filled with my shirt sleeves and I am accused of unsightly littering. They stretch my skin over a light bulb in Alcatreaz and the motes of murder shine in Shanghai when they press that switch. A menstrual flow against gravity stuns scientists. The March Gallery is lynched.

This is the stuff of which anti-art is made.

Art cannot be measured or defined any more than love. The depths of a kiss cannot be fathomed, nor can art. Both are inscrutable. Love, the most transitory of acts meets art, the most accidental of loves. Both are meaningful only insofar as the involvement is passion. And passion leads to what is unmastered in the beyond. In the death of all things is our world of uncommitted shallowness, the need for passion and involvement become a death and life struggle. And violence becomes the parody of futility. I believe in a new art of committed violence. I believe art should destroy all things before they become utilitarian symbols of useless longevity; before they become fuses to our own high-priced destruction. As most art galleries are padlocked behind their sinister commercial dreams, I search for this new art in the comic strip and the tabloid sheet. Here you see the catastrophe, the avalanche, the flood, the tidal hurricanes, the carnal holocausts and the inadvertent so actual that planes meet above Staten Island in hectic rendezvous with two boroughs, plowing snow with blood in one, and razing garnished steeples and serene funeral parlors in the other. Smoke terror flames crawling like schizophrenic lightening in beauty parlors and garages, into the starch of Chinese laundries, into the fuming wax of imitation begonias, into the detergents of dusky groceries. Here momentarily life is renewed and the fear of affirmation vanquished. This is the new art, the shock art, the anti-art that is preparing us for the H-bomb sodomy and the seasickness of a violent death.

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Artists: To hell with academic taboos, old or new! This historical year, 1961, finds many artists, in their soul-searching private conversations with their work, turning in revulsion from the specialized and decorative.

Again ... to hell with academic taboos! Involvement with the rich loam, the blood and merde and sex of an exploding mankind is too much of a hot sea to escape from. Let's face it!

The great adventure of the modern movement, in its tremendous preoccupation with means, has given us the tools forged by ascetic specialists of all kinds.

Let us thank everyone, and hate no one from the past, in art.

The appetizers were excellent but ... On with the Banquet!

We love subject matter ... So there ... What's more, we love all our tools and intend to use any number of them we require to fully implement an idea.

Let's face the drama, beauty and ugliness of the world's dance in the flames of Hell, 1961, and beyond ...

Let's face it and swim in it.

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2002  NO!art and the Aesthetics of Doom
    UI Museum of Art, Iowa City, Iowa

2001  NO!art and the Aesthetics of Doom
    Block Museum, Chicago/Evanston

1995  NO!art | Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin

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