In contemporary European art, the concept of Art informel implies a complex which goes beyond one particular school, movement or ‘style’: actually, that is a 'state of mind', characteristic of the situation in the early post-war years, when the atmosphere was transformed and gradually altered the whole complexion of the 1950s.
Anyone fortunate enough, closely to have monitored the birth and development of Arte Povera, to have witnessed Kounellis’ live horses and Merz’s igloos displayed at the Galleria L’Attico in Rome, in early 1969, to have listened to Beuys retelling the legend of his life, to have read and leafed through Celant’s book, with its illustrations of Land Art, Anti-Form, ‘Poor’ and Conceptual Art, and to have heard about Szeemann's exhibition in Berne, When Attitudes Become Form, could not fail to be tempted to go along with Renato Barilli’s prediction that future art historians, discussing the history of 20th-century art, would divide the entire period into two halves - the age preceding, and the age following the critical year, 1968.
General Characteristics of the New Attitudes to Art
Although the evolution of art undoubtedly follows a continuous pattern without sudden interruptions marked by fixed dates, a number of symptoms support the claim that a new situation arose some ten years ago, in the late 1960s, which, it seems, can be justifiably treated as a specific period in the history of post-war art. It goes without saying that the new developments contained many direct or indirect influences and elements discernible in the period preceding it, but it also shows a sufficient number of characteristic constitutive elements that gave it a separate identity.
Two quotations – actually, two paragraphs taken from the wider context of some lengthier texts – summarise the principal developments in art of the 1970s:
‘The ’seventies were not just a decade like any other in the twentieth century, but a crucial period in which Modernism made its last original contribution, before surrendering to the various forms of Postmodernism that came into being, from the middle of the decade onwards.’ (Tomaž Brejc).