Art World 1972-76

In 1968 New York was a thriving art center filled with important museums and art galleries.  For a new arrival like me who had come to NY to get a graduate degree in art history and also aspired to be an artist, going to exhibitions was both a cheap form of entertainment and a good way to learn. Sometimes it was intimidating as most galleries at the time were in affluent uptown areas and set their sights primarily on wealthy collectors.  This began to change in the early 70s when more and more galleries opened in Soho, a downtown neighborhood favored by artists.  Here gallery hopping included Saturday afternoon openings, hanging out in the neighborhood’s artist bars, and attending loft parties celebrating some artist’s new exhibition. 

Memories of art exhibitions during this pre-digital period have been preserved in the announcements, posters, flyers and brochures that were an important part of gallery advertising.  Some of this offset art ephemera were artworks themselves and many people saved the free cards and posters that they received in the mail or picked up at exhibitions.  They document an eclectic time in the history of art.  Commercial galleries intermixed with artist-run spaces and nonprofit alternative spaces funded by newly available government grants.  Pop Art, art by German artists, abstract art, minimalism and hyper-realism were all current.  There was also the first rumblings of new photography, film, multi-media and performance.

The cards that appear below reflect my interests back in the early 70s.  It’s a skewed collection reflecting my own preference for conceptual art similar to what I was making. All the cards come from Gallery 98, an offshoot of 98 Bowery which specializes in art ephemera from the 1970s and 80s.