Process art celebrates the artistic journey rather than simply the end result of the final art work. While the Process Art movement is associated with the 1960s, it is associated with more historic artistic forms like sand painting, cultural dance, and even the Japanese tea ceremony. Artists who created Process Art viewed the entire creation experience as integral to the art work. This would include the gathering of material and application of art mediums and so forth. In this way, the final art work is simply part of the overall process and connected to acts which led to its creation.
Inherent themes in Process Art are change and transition. Artists associated with the movement were particularly interested in some organic occurrences like growth and decomposition. Moreover, Process Artists were focused on using non-traditional art mediums like wax, fiberglass, latex, and felt. Process artists were interested in delivering the experience of art and so many hoped to lift the curtain during their production process to show the viewer the actual creative process.
Process artists also strove to go beyond the context of form. The changing form was integral to many of their artistic experiences. They often viewed their works as non-objects and more like works of “anti-form.” This philosophy was also applied to the way the work was presented. Process works might be hung, draped, or strewn across the floor, but these works were seldom meant for a traditional pedestal or to be fit into a wall frame. Many works also embodied an element of action to suggest that the works were not stagnant and were, in fact, subject to change.
Influential Process artists include Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier, Lynda Benglis, Chris Drury, Barry Le Va, Bruce Nauman, Eva Hesse, and Robert Morris. Many of these artists showed work at the famous show titled “When Attitudes become Forms,” which moved the Process Art movement forward and into the spotlight. Many of the show’s displayed works embodied fluidity and movement. Unorthodox materials and unusual presentations were hallmarks of this now legendary show.
The celebrated drip paintings of Jackson Pollack are also noted as works of Process Art. Artists who involved random experiences or improvisational elements might be said to be Process artists. Many works of Process Art were deemed “unbuyable” and were often confined to the gallery space. However, there was support for many artists from museum and art dealers so the movement continued well into the 1970s.