In the post-Sputnik era, when the development of an American space program ignited fantasies of intergalactic adventure, artists responded in ways that drew on science fiction and utopian literature. Robert Watts (1923–1988), who created The Original Cosmic Credit Card (1973), a sculpture series called Space Artifacts (1978), and an art event comprised of a detailed newspaper advertisement for “one good spaceship” (1973), was also a founding member of Fluxus. Beginning in the mid-1960s, he extensively re-imagined the home, its furnishings, and its gardens in terms of an ironic Space Age aesthetic. Analyzing Watts’s realized objects along with unrealized drawings and plans in his archive, Annette Leddy’s article will discuss the source of Watts’s work and restore a partially obscured link in ever-disappearing art history.
Annette Leddy is a curator and archivist at the Getty Research Institute and a writer on art and literature. She recently co-curated, with Donna Conwell, “Farewell to Surrealism: the Dyn Circle in Mexico” at the Getty from October 2012 to February 2013 and wrote a catalogue essay for the exhibition. She has also published essays on writers Roberto Bolaño, Angelo Rognoni, and Jorge Luis Borges, and on contemporary artists William Leavitt, Larry Bell, and Allan Kaprow, as well as reviews of contemporary art for frieze, X-TRA, and East of Borneo. Her article on Robert Watts, for which she received a 2008 Arts Writers Grant, was published in frieze in October 2012.