Bound Square, 1972. Wood and twine, 77 x 78 x 14.5 in.

Getting Things Straight: Jackie Winsor Moves Ahead

Many artists of importance associated with postminimal/maximal aesthetics emerged during the late ’60s and early ’70s in New York. Artists such as Jackie Winsor, Keith Sonnier, Alan Saret, Richard Serra, Eva Hesse, Barry Le Va, Joel Shapiro, Bruce Nauman, Lynda Benglis, and John Duff were not only dedicated to extending the principles of literalness into new materials, but were also caught up in the zeitgeist of the era—the political changes, the cultural revolution, the emerging feminism, the awareness of environmental issues, the civil rights and anti-war protest demonstrations. These artists represented a desire to set things straight, that is, to show order and fragmentation as two sides of the same phenomenon: the two connecting points of creative desire. Cultural and social changes were the virtual backdrop by which they gained access to new ideas based on the invention of intuitive forms and systemic strategies applied to art-making. Their work projected a need for opening the visual field through the extended adaptation of primary shapes. The shapes, in turn, offered a radical progression toward the investigation of art as language.
In retrospect, it would appear that the most advanced contemporary artists from this period—among whom Winsor was a leading figure—were in search of a new syntax that could accommodate the multitude of visual and graphic signs moving through space and time—more precisely, the space/time of radical change. In the process of her evolution, Winsor made fundamental contributions: initially in relation to the concept of form through the use of materials normally excluded from art, and later, through the contextualization of form in relation to architecture and public space. Both of these concerns offered evidence that the meaning of culture was inherently dependent on the premise of an expanded perception.