While I had YouTube set to Denise René Commemorative Mode last night, I came across this 1965 CBS documentary about MoMA’s Op Art group show, The Responsive Eye. This isn’t Morley Safer’s CBS; as Greg Allen points out, this comes from a time when CBS’s founder was MoMA’s president, so this is actually an informative, considered piece of television. It moves smoothly from talking with people on the street to talking with Responsive Eye curator William C. Seitz, and gets people to say an awful lot of things that are still true today.
My favorite part is Mike Wallace’s question for the artist Hannes Beckmann:
“Is it possible that Optical art is the tool, not the finished product? The grammar, not the sentence, with the meaning and substance in it?”
Beckmann dodges the question, but it’s an important one, one that’s dogged any number of styles since. Must’ve been nice to have that on broadcast TV.