D. Gay Massee

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art & Design


For purposes of clarity, art forms which attempt to affect the viewer through exaggerated means based on sensory appeal, are termed 'viewer oriented.' This thesis discusses the origin, development, and implications of these forms.

The past is examined for possible links to the present. Contemporary forms are considered more specifically. My own work is used as further reference.

It was found that the main body of viewer oriented works in the past had occurred within the sponsoring power institutions in a functioning role. As technological improvements increased, the artist's role in society lessened. Freed from restraints of established tradition, art forms began to exhibit noticeable changes, as seen in the introspective works of the first half of the century.

The rise of another graphic medium—that of advertising—acted as a competitive force. As a result from approximately the fifties on, art forms began to evidence an outer directed appeal, as seen in the Op, Primary, Electrified, Pop, Assemblage, and Touchable works, to the more dramatic forms of the Environment and the Happening.

The revival of viewer oriented forms represents attempts to regain a more functional role in society. Through activating the viewer as a determining factor in the art form, the artist was implying the viewer's role as a determinant factor in society.