Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television

May 1 - September 27, 2015

Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television is the first exhibition to explore how avant-garde art influenced and shaped the look and content of network television in its formative years, from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s. During this period, the pioneers of American television—many of them young, Jewish, and aesthetically adventurous—had adopted modernism as a source of inspiration. Revolution of the Eye looks at how the dynamic new medium, in its risk-taking and aesthetic experimentation, paralleled and embraced cutting-edge art and design.

Installation view of the exhibition Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television. The Jewish Museum, NY.  

Photo by: David Heald.

Installation view of the exhibition Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television. The Jewish Museum, NY. 

Photo by: David Heald.

Highlighting the visual revolution ushered in by American television and modernist art and design of the 1950s and 1960s, Revolution of the Eye features fine art and graphic design, including works by Saul Bass, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Allan Kaprow, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Eero Saarinen, Ben Shahn, and Andy Warhol, as well as ephemera, television memorabilia, and clips from film and television, including Batman, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Ernie Kovacs Show, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and The Twilight Zone.

Revolution of the Eye examines television’s promotion of avant-garde ideals and aesthetics; its facility as a promotional platform for modern artists, designers, and critics; its role as a committed patron of the work of modern artists and designers; and as a medium whose relevance in contemporary culture was validated by the Museum of Modern Art’s historic Television Project (1952-55).

Talk to us: We would like to know what you think of television and modern art. Participate in the survey.

Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television is organized by the Jewish Museum, New York, and the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

The exhibition is curated by Dr. Maurice Berger, Research Professor and Chief Curator, Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, UMBC, and curator, National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting, the Jewish Museum, New York.

National Tour (through 2017): The Jewish Museum, New York City; NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale; The Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago.

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Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television is made possible by the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Stern Family Philanthropic Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence, the National Endowment for the Arts, an anonymous donation in memory of Curtis Hereld, and HBO.
Endowment support is provided by The Skirball Fund for American Jewish Life Exhibitions and the Neubauer Family Foundation.

    

Historic television program and commercial clips from the exhibition

From The Ed Sullivan Show: Opening sequence of The Ed Sullivan Show, CBS, October 1970, 30 sec. Used by permission of SOFA Entertainment / www.edsullivan.com ; Clip from The Ed Sullivan Show, featuring the Temptations, CBS, September 1969, 30 sec. Used by permission of SOFA Entertainment / www.edsullivan.com

Salvador Dalí, What’s My Line?, CBS, January 27, 1952
Black-and-white film, digital transfer, 14 seconds
Clip used by permission of Fremantle Media

The Ernie Kovacs Show, with Ernie Kovacs, writer and performer, ABC, 1961-1962 (excerpt)
Black-and-white video with sound, digital transfer, 14 seconds
Clip used by permission of Ediad Productions

Winky Dink and You, CBS, 1953-1957 (excerpts)
Black-and-white film with sound, digital transfer, 1 minute, 28 seconds 

Television commercial clips: Braniff Airways, c. 1967; Kodak Instamatic cameras, c. 1965;  Alka Seltzer, 1967; Esso gasoline, 1957; Caprolan, 1960s, 2 min, 14 secs. 

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Touring

For more information regarding touring exhibitions, please contact Jennifer Ayres, Exhibitions Manager, at jayres@thejm.org.

Revolution of the Eye Visitor Survey

​Please take a few minutes to share with us your cultural interests and familiarity with television design. 

In the Shop

Revolution of the Eye Catalogue

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Postcard: Get Smart cover for TV Guide by Andy Warhol

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Postcard: Salvador Dali on What’s My Line, CBS, 1952

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