‘Process art’ is when the creative process is a significant element in the finished piece, often making the act of creation itself the subject.
The late 1960s and 1970s witnessed a growing fascination with process among artists, with roots traceable back to the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. His dripped and poured paint layers revealed the artist's actions, allowing for some reconstruction of the creative process. Morris Louis, in his later colour field paintings, distinctly exposed his method of pouring paint onto the canvas.
Process art emphasises the impact of the artist's actions on specific materials. For instance, in Louis's work, forms emerged through the interplay of the artist's actions, paint properties, and canvas characteristics. Richard Serra employed molten lead thrown into room corners, while Robert Morris made longitudinal cuts in felt lengths, allowing them to assume configurations determined by the properties of the material, artist's actions, and gravity.
British painter Bernard Cohen adopted a structured process, consistently carrying it out until the canvas was full. John Hilliard's photographic piece, "Camera Recording its Own Condition" (1971), and Michael Craig-Martin's "4 Complete Clipboard Sets" exemplify pure instances of process art.