Biography A highly influential figure in contemporary art during the s, the American artist and theorist Allan Kaprow is probably best known as the leading pioneer of " Happenings ", a type of performance art whose aim is to remove the barrier between performer and spectator, leaving only participants. Kaprow also pioneered "Environments" - a forerunner of installation art - typically consisting of rooms filled with assemblages of everyday objects. In addition to being an artist and art theorist, Kaprow was also an influential art teacher at Rutgers University, the State University of New York, the California Institute of the Arts and the University of California. Kaprow contributed a range of important ideas to the development of postmodernist art in America, creating a number of challenging works along the way, in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp , Tristan Tzara , and Robert Rauschenberg Training and Early Writing Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, he experienced chronic illness as a child which forced him to move to Arizona, but also gave him the time to develop an interest in arts and crafts. Here he developed a dynamic style of " action painting ", reflecting the techniques of Jackson Pollock and others of the New York School.
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The Happening and Its Influence on Contemporary Art October 3, Widewalls Editorial Deeply invested in modern and contemporary art, the Widewalls magazine aims at providing a unique experience for its readers in the form of in-depth and quality journalism. Emerging from the theatrical elements of avant-garde movements , such as Dada and Surrealism, the happening was the predecessor to performance art.
Its influential figures were interested in bridging the gap between life and art. In most cases, happenings occurred in the environment or as installations created in a gallery. Relying on different elements, such as light, sound, and slide projections, the audience participation was of crucial importance.
Due to it, every time a piece was performed or exhibited was unique. Repetition of the same action was not possible, and as such happenings helped to define a new idea of the temporality of an artwork. Allan Kaprow — Yard. Image via studyblue. These avant-garde artists introduced their revolutionary ideas through various acts.
Through the actions of reading their manifestos and poetry on stage what we know as a happening was born. The coining of the term happening we owe to an artist and lecturer Allan Kaprow. It was due to his attempt to define and describe the art produced at this place, that the term was born.
In printed publication, the term was used in his writings The Legacy of Jackson Pollock. Unlike the ideas of the famous critic Clement Greenberg, Kaprow was less interested in the art object and more in the process of creation.
His ideas concentrated on the production and promotion of art that used everyday life and everyday objects. The challenge to the history of an art object, the happenings achieved by important innovations concerning time. As a temporal experience, events forming the happening could not be exhibited in a traditional sense. The only artifacts that remained were photographs or oral stories. As such, happenings toyed with the very nature of art and created its new category. Al Hansen — Happening.
Image via huffingtonpost. Taking the theatrical elements of the Futurists, and the Dadaist rebellion to what is considered as art, the actions varied in size and sophistication.
Similarity did exist between this group and the Fluxus , but the major difference between the two was seen in the organization and complexity of the happening.
The events of a Fluxus group were closer to an idea of theatrical improvisation. But, in relation to the later developments and the birth of performance art , the happenings were unique as they relayed more on chance.
The repetition and the theatricality of such art, the happenings did not possess. Where they would take place also varied. With the ability to be enacted anywhere, sometimes they were staged inside a gallery, but also on the streets, theater, farms, or even in a cave.
Sound Light Silence Happening. Happenings were reflection of a spirit of one particular time in the history of the 20th Century. Happenings from the late s and s, particularly in the United States, are considered as the most famous examples of this important art period. The instruction cards provided to the participants stated, among other things: The beginning and end of each will be signaled by a bell.
At the end of the performance two strokes of the bell will be heard…There will be no applause after each set, but you may applaud after the sixth set if you wish.
He was one of the most important figures of American happenings scene, particularly in New York City. The piece consisted of six paper tunnels that radiated outwards from the performance area in which the audience would sit to watch piles of cloth being moved accompanied by various sounds. Curtains were hung in front of the tunnels and a movie was projected on them. However, performers were moving which was causing distortions in the movie. At the end of the screening the tunnels were ripped down and the curtains removed.
As figures began to roll around the floor, with heavy lights, someone swung on a trapeze with a sound of a vacuum cleaner in the back. As Randal Packer explained the work: This is not anything like traditional theater, but rather more like a sculptural environment, with the performance integrated into the space.
Robert Whitman — American Moon, via oss. The piece involved the random scattering and piling of tires over the floor, while the visitors or participants were invited to climb over them. What the paint was for Pollock, the tires were for Kaprow in this piece. The piece has been recreated several times and every time an original artwork was created — a completely new pile of tires.
Allan Kaprow — Yard, via valo This happening involves stamps that artist created and placed inside of actual stamp dispensers that Watts took from the United States Post Office. The stamp dispensers were eventually put in an exhibition space, and viewers could purchase the stamps by placing coins in the coin slots. Watts put different images on stamps, such as nude women or gas cans.
This is a unique, and unusual happening because the viewer did not interact with the artist, but with objects. Robert Watts — Safe Post, K. Feldpost, Jockpost. Offset on gummed and perforated paper. He also conceptualized one of the most recognizable happenings in the s that is called The Thousand Symphonies, and that has many elements of performance art.
This piece is a portion of compositional paper that has been shot with a machine gun at a rifle range. The bullet holes eventually became notes that were played by orchestra. As in every happening, here we also see the elements of chance or unpredictability. It is manifested by the unpredictable placements of the bullet holes as well as the decisions made by the conductor when the piece was performed. A huge influence on this work had Futurist and Dadaist work that were inspired by music.
Dick Higgins — The Thousand Symphonies, Allan Kaprow — Fluids, This is the third happening by Allan Kaprow in this list, but his contribution to the great influence of happenings to performance and conceptual art is simply too important to be ignored. His piece Fluids from gathered local residents in and around Pasadena, California in order to build huge ice structures in various locations across the town.
This collective action resulted in melting of the ice symbolizing the intrinsic nature of human labor — the result is nothing. This happening is one of the most striking attacks against traditional art. As human labor and its products annihilate due to processes of capitalism and consumerism, so do art objects as well — eventually they become nothing.
Happenings climaxed with the notorious Yam Festival in After this event, happenings slowly started to dissolve as other art theories became dominant. Influencing conceptual art , performance art, body art, and feminism art , happenings and their original ideas towards the time and space relationship continued to shape the art of the 20th-century.
Today, in famous festivals, such as Burning Man one can sense the importance of the audience participation that was strongly promoted by the happening artists.
Yet, we must understand that the most important legacy happenings left us with is the world of performance art. In this arena, various artists merge the real life and the virtual, combine theater with the visual art, and examine the limits of the human body. Such experimentation was more than evident in the performances of Ulay and Marina Abramovic. Yet, the true spirit of happenings, that emphasized interaction and embodied experience is today more apparent in music festivals and other similar events than in the world of contemporary art.
In its eclectic nature, contemporary art today holds a legacy of almost every influential modern art movement. Shaped by the revolutionary ideas of the past, happenings today linger in their original ideas of audience participation, and the ephemeral quality of the artwork they left us with.
The Fluxus movement, happenings, and performances are presented in this book through various photographs that depict the organized events. Alongside the photographs are also essays by the famous art historians and scholars that further illustrate this dynamic movement. Seen to influence a new understanding towards gender issues, sex, race, and war, the happenings illustrated in the book showcase an important part of American history as well.
If you ever wanted to learn more about the ephemeral works on the Rutgers and in the New York City this book is a must have. References: Sandford, R. Follow These Artists.
These "Happenings" represent what we now call New Media Art. It is participatory and interactive , with the goal of tearing down the wall a. One such work, titled Eighteen Happenings in Six Parts, involved an audience moving together to experience elements such as a band playing toy instruments, a woman squeezing an orange, and painters painting. He gained significant attention in September for his Words performance at the Smolin Gallery. However, the ritualistic nature of his happenings is nowhere better illustrated than in Eat , which took place in a cave with irregular floors criss-crossed with puddles and streams.
Allan Kaprow: How to Make a Happening
The Happening and Its Influence on Contemporary Art October 3, Widewalls Editorial Deeply invested in modern and contemporary art, the Widewalls magazine aims at providing a unique experience for its readers in the form of in-depth and quality journalism. Emerging from the theatrical elements of avant-garde movements , such as Dada and Surrealism, the happening was the predecessor to performance art. Its influential figures were interested in bridging the gap between life and art. In most cases, happenings occurred in the environment or as installations created in a gallery. Relying on different elements, such as light, sound, and slide projections, the audience participation was of crucial importance.
The Happening and Its Influence on Contemporary Art
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