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The Environment is a term borrowed from American English in the late 1950s for artistic works that deal with the relationship between object and environment. The environment can become part of the artwork.
The intellectual foundations for overcoming the separation between art and life, which artists repeatedly strived for in the 20th century, were already laid in Dadaism and Surrealism. In his Dadaist Manifesto, Richard Huelsenbeck formulated in 1918: "Life appears as a simultaneous jumble of sounds, colours and mental rhythms, which [...] is taken over in its entire brutal reality." In parallel, Marcel Duchamp exhibited a urinal as a work of art in New York in 1917, the Fountain. An industrially manufactured object, the ready-made, was declared a work of art, see also object art.



The term environment appeared in the USA at the end of the 1950s in the context of the artists of Pop Art and Happenings. George Segal called his white plaster figures in a suggested environment "environmental sculptures". Claes Oldenburg became known for his oversized replicas of edibles from "the store". Edward Kienholz and Duane Hanson provoke through the hyperrealism of their figures, whereby Kienholz creates isolated walk-in scenes as environments, while Hanson places human figures (e.g. Woman with Shopping Trolley, 1970), isolated from the original environment, abruptly in the spatial situation of a museum or gallery.




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