Further Biographical Context for John Mackee
Born in 1941, John Mackee was largely influenced by the 1960s. The astronomical impact of the 1960s was truly astonishing across the globe. Evocative of a time inspiring both hope and anger, the 1960s prompted an explosion of cutting-edge philosophies and movements, truly exciting and ground-breaking. Historically established in the context of the Cold War, which would have a highly influential impact worldwide, mainly defined by the Iron Curtain separating Europe both physically and spiritually, and significantly marked by the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961. The 1960s re-defined all pre-existing expectations 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 escalation of mass consumerism also defined the era, generating new trends in marketing and advertising. Minimalism established the central idea that art should subsist in its own reality, and not try to represent the real world. Born of a desire to obliterate 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 actors. Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and Helen Frankenthaler were artists who sought to delve into some of the most fundamental philosophies of Abstract Expressionism, while getting rid of the emotional and highly personal aspect it would usually entail with it. This led to the creation of Colour Field painting, deeply identifying with Minimalism. 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 regions 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. Throughout Europe, the philosophy of Existentialism strongly influenced artists such as Francis Bacon and Alberto Giacometti, who strived to depict the raw human emotions often associated with reflections on death and the lingering angst of the meaninglessness of life.