Cover image for Off limits : Rutgers University and the avant-garde, 1957-1963
Off limits : Rutgers University and the avant-garde, 1957-1963
Marter, Joan M.
Publication Information:
Newark, N.J. : Newark Museum ; New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xviii, 194 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm
General Note:
Catalog of an exhibition held at the Newark Museum, Newark, N.J., Feb. 18-May 16, 1999.
Added Corporate Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NX510.N42 N486 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



Off Limits is the first examination of the Rutgers group, artists who came together on the Rutgers University, New Brunswick campus during the 1950s and revolutionized art practices and pedagogy. Based on interviews with artists, critics, and dealers from the period, the book connects the initiation of major trends such as Happenings, Pop Art, and Fluxus to the faculty, students, art curriculum, and events at the university. It is the first book to look not only at the work of individual artists, but to consider how interactions between these artists influenced their groundbreaking work.

Rutgers was clearly the place to be for experimental artists during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Allan Kaprow's first Happening was presented at Rutgers. Roy Lichtenstein's first Pop paintings, George Segal's earliest figurative tableaux, Lucas Samaras's radical exploration of media, and proto-Fluxus events by Robert Watts and George Brecht all took place on and around the campus. The innovative group rejected Abstract Expressionism for art based on the immediate experience of urban and industrial life, creating startling new artforms which remain startling and provocative.

Led by the theoretical writings and art practice of Kaprow, the group created a New Art--art beyond the limits of the conventional and predictable, even beyond accepted notions of progressive trends. Lichtenstein recalls in an interview, "Kaprow showed us that art didn't have to look like art." Along with Lichtenstein, Kaprow, Segal, and Watts taught at Rutgers and challenged one another to take art "Off Limits" -- beyond the limits of the conventional, the predictable -- even beyond the progressive, as defined by Abstract Expressionist gesturalism. Their art incorporated the gritty environs, the technological, the everyday, making art radical, outrageous, disturbing, and humorous.

Author Notes

JOAN MARTER is a professor of art history at Rutgers University and the author of several books, including Alexander Calder and Theodore Roszak: The Drawings .

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Though New York City has been the prime focus for much of American postwar art, significant schools and movements have arisen in sometimes strange outposts of the art world. Rutgers University, though just a short ride from SoHo, is not usually considered a hotbed of the avant-garde. However, as shown in this volume, which accompanies an exhibition of the same name at the Newark Museum, the New Brunswick campus was the birthplace of a significant avant-garde movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The text focuses on artists such as Lucas Samaras, Roy Lichtenstein, George Segal, Allan Kaprow, and others, clearly documenting their influence on the art of the Sixties. Of particular interest are the interviews with the artists who worked (either as students or instructors) at Rutgers in this important period. Recommended for collections with an interest in contemporary art.Martin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.