By Kingsley Guy
The Surrealists influenced Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. Dadaist sensibilities helped mold the arcane humor of The Ernie Kovacs Show. Op Art added to the appeal of TV advertising during the Mad Men era. During its formative years, television drew heavily on the visual avant-garde, often without viewers realizing it.
Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television continues through Jan. 10 at the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. The exhibition features clips from the early decades of TV along with 260 designs and fine-art objects that influenced programming and advertising. These include works by Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe, Marcel Duchamp and Roy Lichtenstein.
Exhibition curator Maurice Berger says that many critics see today’s TV surpassing film in artistic quality, but adds, “Revolution of the Eye reminds us that the desire for outstanding, artistically important programming was in television’s DNA from the beginning.”