Allan Kaprow

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Allan Kaprow was born on August 23, 1927 and was an American painter, assemblist and a pinoneer in establishing the concepts of performance art. He attended boarding school in Tucson, Arizona and later went to the High School of Music and Art in New York. As a young man, he attended New York University and got his masters in art history from Columbia University. He started his studio career as a painter, and later co-founded the Hansa and Reuben Galleries in New York and became the director of the Judson Gallery. During his school years, he started with a style of action painting, which greatly influenced his Happenings pieces in years to come.

The “Happenings” first started as tightly scripted events, in which the audience and performers followed cues to experience the art. There was no structured beginning, middle, or end, and there was no distinction or hierarchy between artist and viewer. It was the viewer’s reaction that decided the art piece, making each Happening a unique experience that cannot be replicated. The “Happening” allows the artist to experiment with body motion, recorded sounds, written and spoken texts, and even smells. These “Happenings” are now considered new media art,  and are participatory and interactive.

He also had a long teaching career, and held teaching positions at Rutgers, Pratt Institute, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the California Institute of the Arts, and University of California.

Overall, his work attempts to integrate art and life. He also published works, including Assemblage,Environments, and Happenings, a book about the work of like-minded artists through both photographs and critical essays, as well as the Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life, a collection of pieces written over four decades.

Looking at his work, I think it is very interesting. His “Happenings” are mysterious and makes me wonder what was really behind them. The use of so many tires in his work also confuses me, but keeps me intrigued. I love the fact that the photos are in black and white. Nowadays with everything being in color, things can get a bit too overwhelming. His work also gives me a sense of constructed chaos, which is awesome.





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