The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has awarded CADVC Research Professor and Chief Curator Maurice Berger a $50,000 curatorial research fellowship award for his forthcoming curatorial project Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television. This exhibition and publication project represents the first collaborative institutional effort between the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture and the Jewish Museum in New York, where Dr. Berger holds the title of Consulting Curator. The grant will be administered through the Jewish Museum.
From the early-1940s through the mid-1960s, a dynamic new visual medium emerged in the United States that, in its risk-taking and aesthetic experimentation, paralleled the cutting-edge nature of modern art: television. The revolutionary and uncharted medium attracted younger television executives, writers, producers, and directors. Scores of socially and culturally progressive and predominantly Jewish network executives, producers, directors, art directors, and writers—figures such as Paddy Chayefsky, William Golden, Leonard Goldenson, Robert Kintner, Ernie Kovacs, Dan Melnick, William S. Paley, David Sarnoff, Frank Stanton, David Susskind, and Rod Serling—mined the aesthetic, stylistic, and conceptual possibilities of a new and powerful technology. These innovators worked in a cultural milieu far less constricted by the competition for box office revenue and the censorious production codes then preoccupying the motion picture industry.
As the geographic focus of the networks shifted from the Hollywood movie studios to a television industry initially centered in New York, the proximity of these innovators to the city's dynamic artistic and cultural community—particularly the avant-garde art and philosophies of the New York School, an artistic milieu also with a significant Jewish presence—would result in a powerful conceptual and stylistic synergy between modern art and early television. American television and avant-garde art capitalized on the “modernist visual revolution,”
Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television is currently scheduled to be presented at the Jewish Museum during the spring of 2016 and follows up at the CADVC / UMBC in 2017.