Guerrilla Art Action Group

Disappointed by the lack of resonance to demonstrations of the open alliance Art Workers Coalition (AWC), Jon Hendricks and Jean Toche founded their own initiative within the New York art scene in 1969: the Guerrilla Art Action Group (GAAG). The artists’ critique focused on the U.S. military intervention in Vietnam, domestic policies that suppressed minorities, and the art establishment, which was controlled by political and economic interests. GAAG’s goal was to force institutions, politicians, and celebrities to take a moral stand on U.S. politics, through provocative actions, interventions, letters, posters, and theater projects. For example, GAAG organized a demonstration vigil in front of Picasso’s Guernica in the Museum of Modern Art in cooperation with the AWC to draw attention to the massacre in Songmy, Vietnam. Participants in the performance works – for example, the action Blood Bath, which demanded that Rockefeller family resign from the board of MoMA because of its involvement in manufacturing weapons for the Vietnam War – included Poppy Johnson, Silviana, and the Black and Puerto Rican Coalition Artists. GAAG’s strategies of generating attention alternated between shock and irony; blood, theatre props, and flyers were used. Until their breakup in 1976, the GAAG wrote several manifestos in which they denounced political and social evils.