“Sound Effects (O.K., Music)”: Steve Reich and theVisual Arts in New York City, 1966–68

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This article explores Steve Reich’s relationship with New York City’s downtown artworld during the latter half of the 1960s, aiming to nuance aspects of early minimalism by tracing diachronic connections with the Park Place gallery, the exhibition Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials, Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt, and movements such as process art and conceptualism. I suggest that, rather than revealing Reich’s prior compositional philosophy, his 1968 treatise ‘Music as a Gradual Process’ demonstrated aesthetic cohesion with the stance of a particular milieu, mirroring a broader linguistic turn in contemporaneous art and revealing a certain discrepancy between theory and praxis. Drawing on newspaper reception, I explore Reich’s compositions from Melodica (1966) to Pendulum Music (1968), arguing that these pieces gained both aesthetic value and institutional credibility through being understood in relation to concurrent artwork and ideas, affording productive horizons of expectation.

3601 Art History, Theory and Criticism, 3603 Music, 3604 Performing Arts, 36 Creative Arts and Writing
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Twentieth-Century Music
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Cambridge University Press (CUP)