Further Biographical Context for John Coen
John Coen was born in 1941 and was primarily influenced creatively by the 1960s. The astronomical impact of the 1960s was truly astonishing across the globe. Representative of a time inspiring both faith and anger, the 1960s triggered an explosion of cutting-edge philosophies and movements, truly exciting and ground-breaking. Historically set in the context of the Cold War, which would have a highly powerful impact worldwide, largely defined by the Iron Curtain dividing Europe both physically and spiritually, and drastically marked by the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961. The 1960s re-defined all pre-existing assumptions on gender, race and justice, questioned education as well as morality and selfhood – for instance through the civil rights movement and second wave of feminism, as well as student political uprisings. The significant boom of mass consumerism also defined the era, engendering new trends in marketing and advertising. Minimalism established the central idea that art should subsist in its own reality, and not try to mimic the physical world. Born of a desire to erase all pre-established conceptions about art, Minimalism became a radically progressive movement, highly influential worldwide, with artists such as Frank Stella, Donald Judd and Dan Flavin as key figures. Minimalism became significant through the works of artists such as Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley, while Pop art was an essential by-product of the latter, at the same time critiquing and glorifying popular culture. The iconic contemporary art movements that reverberated through the wave of radicalism of the 1960s also had their own distinctions and scopes, particular to different areas or countries. Spatialism, for instance, was established in Italy by Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni, and its ideologies adopted by the Zero group in Germany. Across Europe, the philosophy of Existentialism deeply influenced artists like Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti, who sought to depict the raw human emotions often connected to reflections on death and the lingering angst of the meaninglessness of life.