SMS Gallery Talk: "Edged in Black"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - 3:00pm
Lawrence and Ina Lee Brown Ramer Gallery

Mellon New Media Curator Michael Maizels will discuss the exhibited highlights of the SMS Portfolio—including work by Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Kosuth, and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as music by La Monte Young and Terry Riley—examining these interactive, multimedia projects in light of the radical ferment of the late 1960s art-world.

Edged in Black: Selections from SMS

Amidst the social and political turbulence of 1968, William Copley, an American surrealist painter and art dealer, created an inventive periodical entitled S.M.S., which informally stood for “Shit Must Stop.” Copley was inspired by the fluxus movement, which encouraged the blending of all aspects of art and life. S.M.S. embodied this philosophy. Each issue was comprised of diverse art pieces, created or adapted by individual artists for the periodical. The artwork ranged from dada to pop art and took many forms of expression, including photography, audio, drawings, and writing. Beginning in February, a new issue was published bimonthly and sent to subscribers throughout 1968. The periodical lasted for a single year. 

SMS is an important piece of the history of modern art. First, it removed all boundaries between the mediums. Everything, from poetry to performance to traditional printmaking, received equal treatment. This principle of equality carried over to money matters: every contributor, no matter how illustrious, received a flat $100 for his or her work. Moreover, SMS bypassed the hierarchical labyrinth of museums and established galleries. Portfolios were sent directly to subscribers on the faith that an audience put in immediate contact with art would have a direct and therefore powerful response. 

Through the generous gift of Nancy Gray Sherrill ’54, the Davis Museum holds a complete set of the portfolios. Opening October 1st, this exhibition showcases a selection of interactive work by artists including Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Kosuth and Roy Lichtenstein alongside music by La Monte Young and Terry Riley.