The Situationist International (SI) was an international organization of social revolutionaries made up of avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists, prominent in Europe from its formation in 1957 to its dissolution in 1972. (Wikipedia)
At their worst, the Situationists could be said to have removed the requirement of specific skill and techniques from art, resulting in the common insult “my kid could do that.” At their best, and something I deeply appreciate, was that they believed art was something everyone could do, it wasn’t just for the elites. The situationists believed that art should be part of daily life, and they played a big part in making art inclusive, so that community based schools like the League can exist today.
League teacher Jon Patrick responded to my thought with this:
“I think you hit it pretty well on the head with the situationists Ruthie, but to put it into context, Europe was still emerging from “the big one” – WWII and an amount of human destruction humans had never before witnessed or unleashed. The aftermath is commonly known as the age of anxiety and along with it came a great amount of distrust for all things socially traditional or elitist, even. They were in many ways the the first real punks / DIY’er’s / political revolutionaries and instigators of the 1960’s counter-culture.”
The IS developed a critique of capitalism based on a mixture of Marxism and surrealism. Leading figure of the movement Guy Debord identified consumer society as the Society of the Spectacle in his influential 1967 book of that title. In the field of culture situationists wanted to break down the division between artists and consumers and make cultural production a part of everyday life.
It combined two existing groupings, the Lettrist International and the International Union for a Pictorial Bauhaus. As well as writer and filmmaker Guy Debord, the group also prominently included the former CoBrA painter Asger Jorn, and the former CoBrA artist Constant. British artist Ralph Rumney was a co-founder of the movement.
Situationist ideas played an important role in the revolutionary Paris events of 1968. The IS was dissolved in 1972.