The 1960s were greatly affected by major political crises such as the building of the Berlin wall, the Cuba Crisis, and the Vietnam War.
The tension between totalitarian Communism and the liberal and social democracies of capitalist countries was echoed in social movements of revolt and change that shook the foundations of authoritarian social structures; examples include the student protests, the hippie movement, and the women’s movement.
Within the realm of culture the boundaries between art and popular culture were becoming blurred. Artists challenged established notions about art and artists and focused on contemporary reality. Mundane everyday objects and images became part of the vocabulary of art, as did the use of industrial materials and new media such as photography and film.
Artistic movements such as Situationism and Fluxus challenged the autonomy of art, and in 1961 The Experimental School of Art was founded to formulate an alternative to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Here artists such as Paul Gernes, Per Kirkeby, and Bjørn Nørgaard worked collectively on works, exhibitions, happenings, and film. From the late 1960s onwards Kirsten Justesen, Ursula Reuter Christiansen, Lene Adler Petersen, and other female artists expanded the artistic register with a gender-political gaze on everyday situations and on women’s specific social and biological conditions.
The international outlook shifted from Paris and France to the USA. Particular sources of inspiration included Pop Art and, from the late 1960s onwards, minimalism with its serial and systemic structures as in the works of Robert Smithson, and conceptual art with its dematerialised, language based works as exemplified by Lawrence Weiner.