UArts Exhibit Venerates the City’s Avant-garde Past

December 12, 2019

Philadelphia has always been a city of innovators, and the postwar climate of the 1950s through the ’70s brought change to the art community that fostered the creation of postmodernism. It was also a time when art institutions were built throughout the city, giving artists room to experiment through cutting-edge art education that placed them in conversations with artists around the world. Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde celebrates how the art community that thrives today was facilitated by museums, universities, theaters and individual artists that continue to innovate our culture. 

Invisible City—curated by Sid Sachs, director of exhibitions for UArts’ Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, with Jennie Hirsh, professor of modern and contemporary art at Maryland Institute College of Art, and funded by a Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Discovery grant—pays homage to Philadelphia’s avant-garde community through performances, exhibits and a digital archive. The project will open Jan. 30 across three venues––Gershman Hall, the Philadelphia Art Alliance and Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery––as well as at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Also on Jan. 30, the Art Alliance will host Music of Philadelphia’s Masters: Persichetti, Rochberg and Crumb, which features flutist Sue Ann Kahn, cellist Christopher Finckel and pianist Andrew Willis––three of Philadelphia’s major composers. Later in the spring, Alex Da Corte BFA ’04 (Printmaking & Book Arts) will also reinvent Allan Kaprow’s 1962 performance art piece, Chicken, in Gershman Hall, where it was originally performed. 

The digital component of the project includes an online archive of interviews, pictures and videos from 1950 to 1977 that highlight significant achievements in the Philadelphia art scene. Visitors can search the curated timeline by categories such as literature, music, film and painting to gain a greater understanding of their development over time. Additionally, clickable “arcs” explain the associations between cultural milestones. The site also features interviews with significant avant-garde artists, such as Denise Scott Brown, Ruth Fine, Jim McWilliams and myriad others. 

Events throughout 2020 will showcase writers, photographers, architects and other artists who were instrumental in forming the city’s postmodern art landscape. 

Learn more about Invisible City.