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Matico Josephson

American multi-ethnic arts organization based in New York’s Chinatown. The Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) and its predecessors, the Asian American Dance Theatre (1974–93) and the Asian Arts Institute (1981–8), emerged from the milieu of the Basement Workshop, the first working group of the Asian American Movement on the East Coast, whose mouthpiece was the journal Bridge (1970–81). After the closing of the Basement Workshop in 1987, the Dance Theatre and the Asian Arts Institute were consolidated as the AAAC.

Directed by Eleanor S. Yung, the Dance Theatre was at the core of the organization’s activities from the 1970s through the early 1990s, performing traditional dances from several Asian cultures alongside modern and postmodern forms. In the early 1980s, the Asian Arts Institute began to hold exhibitions and collect slides of artists’ work and documentation of their activities, working primarily with artists involved in the downtown art scene. Early programs included open studio events for artists working in Chinatown and exhibitions of the work of Arlan Huang (...

Article

Sascha Scott

(b Pittsburgh, PA, May 25, 1874; d Albuquerque, NM, June 6, 1960).

American painter and illustrator. Raised in Dayton, OH, Blumenschein showed an early aptitude for music, art, and sports. Upon graduating from high school, he began training as a musician on a violin scholarship at the Music Academy of Cincinnati. Blumenschein left the Academy after a year and enrolled in the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where he received a prize for illustration in Fernand Harvey Lungren’s class. In 1893, he moved to New York City and enrolled at the Art Students League, where his instructors included John Twachtman and Kenyon Cox. Over the course of the next 15 years, he moved back and forth between New York and Paris, periodically visiting other locales, including Taos, NM, Italy, and Giverny. He twice enrolled at the Académie Julian (1894–6 and 1899), where he studied with Jean-Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant. In 1905, he married artist Mary Shepard Greene (1869–1958), and, with the birth of their daughter in ...

Article

Aileen June Wang

(b San Leandro, CA, Feb 3, 1972).

American performance and video artist of Chinese ancestry. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. She showed her first solo exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, in 1999. Her body of work focused on how people can be deceived, either through sight—what one sees is not necessarily true—or through mainstream assumptions about such topics as Asia, sexuality, and socially accepted behavior. Chang attributed her past stint in a cybersex company as the catalyst for exploring illusion as a theme. She realized that video flattened three-dimensional, live performances into a stream of two-dimensional images, enabling her to engage in visual deception.

Most of Chang’s early works investigated problems of gender and sexuality, using her own body and elements suggesting violence or transgression. The photograph Fountain (1999) depicted her inside a cubicle of a public lavatory, with a urinal visible on the far wall. Wearing a business suit, she knelt on hands and knees, seemingly kissing herself but actually slurping water off a mirror on the floor. The accompanying video focused on Chang’s face and her passionate interaction with her own reflection. While the photograph suggested female humiliation in a male world, the video complicated matters by implying that the act was motivated by narcissism....

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b New York, NY, June 26, 1940).

American dancer and choreographer. Born in 1940, Childs grew up in New York City. In her teens she studied with such dancing legends as Hanya Holm and Helen Tamiris. Childs majored in dance at Sarah Lawrence College, where she received a Bachelor’s degree. There she studied with Judith Dunn, Bessie Schonberg, and Merce Cunningham, whose iconoclastic approach to dance was of particular importance. In 1963, at Cunningham’s studio, she met Yvonne Rainer, another dancer who became a renowned choreographer, who told her about the dance, performance and art activities at the Judson Church in New York City. Childs became one of the founding members of the Judson Dance Theater. There she had the opportunity to investigate and experiment. As an original member of the troupe, she performed with Robert Morris and Yvonne Ranier. She would incorporate elements from everyday life, evident in such works as Pasttime of 1963 where she performed a solo in three parts showcasing the movements of the body. By ...

Article

Sandra Sider

(b East Chicago, IN, 1933).

American installation and performance artist. Feminist artist Mary Beth Edelson created numerous private rituals, as well as installations and performances around the world relating to the “Great Goddess.” Edelson became famous in the early 1970s among members of the Women’s Movement for her collaged poster parodying Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper (c. 1495; Milan, S Maria delle Grazie) titled Some Living American Women Artists/Last Supper (1971), in which she replaced the central figure of Christ with Georgia O’Keeffe, and images of the disciples with women artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Louise Nevelson, and Yoko Ono. The original poster is now owned by the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Edelson, also a painter and book artist, has had artist’s books featured in several Book as Art exhibitions at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC. Recurring themes throughout her career have been female identity, how women are portrayed in art and the media, and women’s recognition as artists. Edelson’s opposition to the patriarchal establishment began while she was a senior at DePauw University, where she received her BA in ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Evanston, IL, 1956).

American performance artist. Finley is noted for her controversial pieces and her work has been called “obscene,” “lewd” and “vulgar” because she has graphically examined such subjects in her art as politics, sexuality, scatology, identity, violence and abuse, among other divisive topics. Her works are also called theatrical solo shows. She explored feminist content through her performances, which were often derided by the public, even after she developed her audience within the art world. In her art, she combined monologues with manipulation of her body, including pouring substances onto herself. Using her partially or fully nude body, she entices the viewer, but then quickly subverts the experience of looking at her by pouring, smearing, or otherwise covering parts or all of herself. Her writing is well-crafted and provocative both in subject and form.

Finley studied art as a child at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Young Artist Studio program in ...

Article

Ellen G. Landau

(b Allegheny, PA, May 11, 1894; d New York, NY, April 1, 1991).

American dancer and choreographer. Graham is widely considered a major pioneer and exponent of modernism. Her collaboration with American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who designed costumes and sets for the Martha Graham Dance Company from 1935 to 1966, and the extraordinary photographs of her in performance by Imogen Cunningham, Soichi Sunami (1885–1971), Philippe Halsman (1906–79) and especially Barbara Morgan, link Graham’s revolutionary accomplishments in dance to experimentation in the visual arts. During the late 1930s and 1940s, her belief in the ability of dance to tap the power of myth and the unconscious anticipated and was analogous to the tenets of Abstract Expressionism.

Brought up in California the daughter of a physician, in 1916 at age 22, Graham began studying dance under Ruth St Denis (1879–1968) and Ted Shawn (1891–1972). Ten years later she formed the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance in New York. While her own performances were initially based on the Denishawn style, by ...

Article

Julia Robinson

Term first formally used by the American artist Allan Kaprow for his 18 Happenings in 6 Parts, presented in early October 1959 at the Reuben Gallery, New York City, as the inaugurating event for that space. (Informal “happening-like” experiments had been presented by Kaprow in April 1958 at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, and at the Reuben Gallery in a pre-opening piece called Intermission [June 1959].) Through 1960, the artists pioneering the Happenings form were: Kaprow, Robert Whitman (b 1935), Claes Oldenburg, Simone Forti, Red Grooms, Al Hansen and Jim Dine. Happenings appeared at experimental downtown spaces such as Groom’s “Delancey Street Museum” (his studio on the lower East Side), the Judson Church (on Washington Square) and the Reuben Gallery, as well as in New Jersey, at George Segal’s farm, and on the campus of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, where Kaprow was teaching and Whitman was a student. According to Whitman, when Kaprow named ...

Article

Julia Robinson

(b Valrico, FL, 1930).

American performance artist and sculptor. Hay started out in the performance scene at Judson Memorial Church in downtown New York City in the early 1960s. He arrived in New York from Florida in 1959, after studying at the Florida State University (1953–8). His wife, the dancer Deborah Hay, was a key figure in the Judson Dance Theater, launched in the summer of 1962, and Alex Hay performed in many of its productions. In the early 1960s he assisted Robert Rauschenberg on set designs for Merce Cunningham, and danced with him with roller-skates and parachutes in Rauschenberg’s now famous performance piece Pelican (1963). After these collaborations, Hay was invited to participate in 9 Evenings: Theater & Engineering at New York’s 69th Regiment Armory (fall 1966). This initiative, conceived by Rauschenberg with critical contributions from the engineer Billy Klüver, was an idealistic effort to pair artists with engineers, to merge art and new technologies. That project evolved into ...

Article

Julia Robinson

American artists’ space located at 239 Thompson Street at the south edge of Washington Square in New York City. Beginning in the late 1950s the Judson Church hosted experimental avant-garde activities—art installations, Happenings, the beginnings of postmodern dance—launching a now celebrated group of artists, dancers, poets and composers, and fueling the radical downtown art scene. The platform of free expression Judson provided for the untested work of the 1960s generation, at a time when these artists were far from established, was a critical contribution to the invention, originality and ultimate international renown of these preeminent American artists.

Built in 1890 and designed by the renowned architect Stanford White (of McKim, Mead & White), the church’s original mission was to serve the immigrant population of Lower Manhattan with health and recreational programs as well as religious services. In the 1950s Reverend Bob Spike (1949–55) asked his seminary intern, Budd Scott, to go into the neighborhood and spend time with the locals—including a significant contingent of struggling artists—to discover their needs. Scott found out that the artists urgently needed a place to present their work. Judson’s national reputation for fostering radical artistic practice came under the tenure of Reverend Howard Moody (...