Process art is an artistic movement as well as a creative sentiment where the end product of art and craft, the objet d’art, is not the principal focus. The 'process' in process art refers to the process of the formation of art: the gathering, sorting, collating, associating, patterning, and moreover the initiation of actions and proceedings. Process art is concerned with the actual doing and how actions can be defined as an actual work of art; seeing the art as pure human expression. Process art often entails an inherent motivation, rationale, and intentionality. Therefore, art is viewed as a creative journey or process, rather than as a deliverable or end product.
Process art has been entitled as a creative movement in the US and Europe in the mid-1960s. It has roots in Performance Art, the Dada movement and, more traditionally, the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock, and in its employment of serendipity. Change and transience are marked themes in the process art movement. The Guggenheim Museum states that Robert Morris in 1968 had a groundbreaking exhibition and essay defining the movement and the Museum Website states:
Process Artists were involved in issues attendant to the body, random occurrences, improvisation, and the liberating qualities of nontraditional materials such as wax, felt, and latex. Using these, they created eccentric forms in erratic or irregular arrangements produced by actions such as cutting, hanging, and dropping, or organic processes such as growth, condensation, freezing, or decomposition.
The ephemeral nature and insubstantiality of materials was often showcased and highlighted, as is demonstrated in this review of William Basinski and his work titled The Disintegration Loops I-IV by Joe Tangari for Pitchfork Media:
You are slowly being destroyed. It's imperceptible in the scheme of a day or a week or even a year, but you are aging, and your body is degrading. As your cells synthesize the very proteins that allow you to live, they also release free radicals, oxidants that literally perforate your tissue and cause you to grow progressively less able to perform as you did at your peak. By the time you reach 80, you will literally be full of holes, and though you'll never notice a single one of them, you will inevitably feel their collective effect. Aging and degradation are forces of nature, functions of living, and understanding them can be as terrifying as it is gratifying.
It's not the kind of thing you can say often, but I think William Basinski's Disintegration Loops are a step toward that understanding-- the music itself is not so much composed as it is this force of nature, this inevitable decay of all things, from memory to physical matter, made manifest in music. During the summer of 2001, William Basinski set about transferring a series of 20-year-old tape loops he'd had in storage to a digital file format, and was startled when this act of preservation began to devour the tapes he was saving. As they played, flakes of magnetic material were scraped away by the reader head, wiping out portions of the music and changing the character and sound of the loops as they progressed, the recording process playing an inadvertent witness to the destruction of Basinski's old music.In essence, Basinski is improvising using nothing so much as the passage of time as his instrument, and the result is the most amazing piece of processmusic I've ever heard, an encompassing soundworld as lulling as it is apocalyptic.
The process art movement and the environmental art movement are directly related:
Process Artists engage the primacy of organic systems, using perishable, insubstantial, and transitory materials such as dead rabbits, steam, fat, ice, cereal, sawdust, and grass. The materials are often left exposed to natural forces: gravity, time, weather, temperature, etc.
In process art, as in the Arte Povera movement, nature itself is lauded as art; the symbolization and representation of nature, often rejected.
Aspects of the process of the construction of a Vajrayana Buddhist sand mandala (a subset of sandpainting) of Medicine Buddha by monks from Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York that began February 26, 2001 and concluded March 21, 2001 has been captured and web-exhibited by the Ackland's Yager Gallery of Asian Art. The dissolution of the mandala was on June 8, 2001.
- Lynda Benglis
- Joseph Beuys
- Chris Drury
- Eva Hesse
- Gary Kuehn
- Barry Le Va
- Bruce Nauman
- Robert Morris
- Richard Serra
- Keith Sonnier
- Source: http://www.guggenheimcollection.org/site/glossary_Process_art.html (accessed: Thursday, March 15, 2007)
- Source: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/577-the-disintegration-loops-i-iv/ (accessed: Saturday, February 16, 2013)
- Source: http://www.artandculture.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/ACLive.woa/wa/movement?id=1037 (accessed: Thursday, March 15, 2007)
- Source: http://www.ackland.org/art/exhibitions/buddhistart/construction.htm (accessed: Monday, December 22, 2008)
- Wheeler, D. (1991). Art Since the Midcentury: 1945 to the Present.