New Jersey as Non-Site

George Segal, American, 1924–2000: Untitled [Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal, with trucks and loading cranes in distance, seen through bridge slats], 1966. Gelatin silver print, 7.6 x 12.7 cm. George Segal Papers, Rare Books and Special Collections,

Between 1950 and 1975, some of the postwar era’s most innovative artists flocked to a very unexpected place: New Jersey. Appreciating what others tended to ignore or mock, they gravitated to the state’s most desolate peripheries: its industrial wastescapes, crumbling cities, crowded highways, and banal suburbs. There they produced some of the most important work of their careers. The breakthroughs in land, conceptual, performance, and site-specific art that New Jersey helped catalyze are the subject of New Jersey as Non-Site, whose title evokes the mixed-media sculptures that Robert Smithson began to create in 1968 while driving the state’s highways with Nancy Holt.

Curated by Kelly Baum, Haskell Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, New Jersey as Non-Site examines more than 100 works by sixteen artists: Amiri Baraka, George Brecht, John Cohen, Dan Graham, Geoffrey Hendricks, Dick Higgins, Nancy Holt, Allan Kaprow, Gordon Matta-Clark, Dennis Oppenheim, George Segal, Charles Simonds, Robert Smithson, Michelle Stuart, Robert Watts, and Bud Wirtschafter. Organized around three themes—ruin, cooperation, and displacement—New Jersey as Non-Site considers these artists’ work in relationship to seismic shifts in the world of art and equally dramatic changes to New Jersey’s economy, infrastructure, landscape, demography, and social stability.

New Jersey as Non-Site has been made possible by generous support from Preston H. Haskell, Class of 1960; Christopher E. Olofson, Class of 1992; the Virginia and Bagley Wright, Class of 1946, Program Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art; Sueyun and Gene Locks, Class of 1959; Sarah Lee Elson, Class of 1984; and PSEG.  Additional support has been provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Elchin Safarov and Dilyara Allakhverdova; the Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Exhibitions Fund; and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with further support from the Department of History, the Center for African American Studies and the Department of English, Princeton University; and the Partners and Friends of the Princeton University Art Museum.  Programming is made possible, in part, by funds from the Jannotta-Pearsall Family Fund of the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole; the Fisher Lecture Series; and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. The publication has been made possible, in part, by the Barr Ferree Foundation Publication Fund, Princeton University.