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Tom Williams

Movement in performance art that took shape in the 1960s and 1970s in which artists use their own bodies or those of their audience as the basis for their work. Body art performances have frequently involved transgression and occasionally violence, and they have often entailed extreme acts of endurance on the part of the artists. This term is typically in used in reference to artists such as Vito Acconci, Chris(topher) Burden, Valie Export, Gina Pane, Carolee Schneemann, the Vienna Actionists, Hannah Wilke, Marina Abramović and her former collaborator Ulay, as well as Brazilian artists in the Neo-Concrete movement such as Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark. (For information about the permanent decoration of the body, see Tattoo.)

Although the emergence of body art is often traced back to early 20th-century trends in performance art, recent accounts have pointed to Hans Namuth’s famous photographs of Jackson Pollock (1912–56) in the act of painting as a particularly important precedent. This practice was taken up by a number of performance artists during the late 1950s and early 1960s, including artists involved in Happenings such as ...

Article

Wojciech Włodarczyk

(b Pleszew, April 25, 1920; d Warsaw, Feb 2, 1980).

Polish painter, sculptor and stage designer. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw, in the studios of Jan Cybis (b 1897) and Jan Seweryn Sokołowski (1904–53) between 1945 and 1948. He was a co-founder and later head of the Painting Section of the Club of Young Artists and Scientists (Klub Młodych Artystów i Naukowców), an interdisciplinary avant-garde institution that flourished in Warsaw between 1947 and 1949. In 1955, together with Zbigniew Dłubak and Kajetan Sosnowski he founded Group 55, which took a stand against the ideas of the exhibition at the Arsenal, Warsaw (see Arsenalists), and which formulated a programme of modern art. From 1956 to 1965 he ran the Galeria Krzywe Koło in Warsaw, which showed innovative work by Polish artists. Bogusz staged the First Koszalin Plein-air Art Session in Osieki (1963) and jointly organized the First Biennial of Spatial Forms in Elblag (...

Article

Alfonso Rodríguez Ceballos

[Santiago]

(b Piacenza, 1705; d Madrid, 18 or Sept 20, 1759).

Italian architect, painter, urban planner and stage designer, active in Spain. He was a pupil in Piacenza of the painters Bartolomeo Rusca (1680–1745), Andrea Galluzzi (fl 1700–1743) and Giovanni Battista Galluzzi (fl c. 1730–40). In 1728 he was one of a number of artists summoned to Spain by the Marchese Annibale Scotti to assist with the construction of royal projects that were already under way and to introduce an Italian influence in place of the French style that had been introduced by the Bourbon kings. He worked at the Aranjuez Palace with the French engineer Léandre Brachelieu (fl c. 1733–9) and then in 1735 became Director of Royal Works of Decoration. He specialized in quadratura painting and, in addition to his work at Aranjuez, where his fresco vault decorations provided fictive trompe l’oeil architectural settings for mythological figures executed by Rusca and ...

Article

Elaine O’Brien

(b Mombasa, Kenya, Nov 2, 1962).

German multi-media installation and performance artist of Kenyan birth. Von Bonin is known for collaborative, richly associative and perplexing spaces full of artworks that suggest Alice-in-Wonderland narratives and evoke Claes Oldenburg’s playful relational strategies.

Von Bonin attained art world prominence soon after her first New York solo show in 1991. Her puckish neo-feminist conceptual art draws largely upon her experiences and friendships in the Cologne art world and neighborhood art scene. Von Bonin’s work challenges traditional stereotypes of the artist as male genius, creating art alone in his studio. The prestige of the artist’s signature is mocked in ‘solo’ shows such as her exhibition The Cousins (2000), held in Brunswick, which featured a large library installation by the artist Nils Norman (b 1966). Von Bonin arranged many installation events with fellow artists, musicians and writers, in which she played the role of curator-impresario as well as object maker. In her work different media and expressive idioms are re-mixed, the world of popular music in particular being integral to her ...

Article

Michael Howard

(b Vercelli, Piedmont, March 11, 1806; d Dijon, March 5, 1867).

French painter, illustrator, set designer and poet. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris under Guillaume Lethière from 1821. The Punishment of Mazeppa (1827; Rouen, Mus. B.-A.), inspired by the scene from Byron’s poem, in which Mazeppa is tied to the back of a wildly stampeding horse, is his most important early painting and one of the key images of the Romantic movement.

Early in his career Boulanger became friendly with Eugène and Achille Devéria. Through them he met Victor Hugo, who became his ardent supporter and the source of many of his most typical works. Among Boulanger’s illustrations were those for Hugo’s Odes et ballades (1829), Les Orientales (1829), Les Fantômes (1829) and Notre-Dame de Paris (1844). Boulanger interpreted the macabre and romantic quality of Hugo’s texts with an imaginative power and freedom that anticipated Redon (e.g. ‘...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Sunshine, Victoria, March 26, 1961, d London, Dec 31, 1994).

Australian fashion designer and performance artist. He arrived in Britain from Australia in 1980 and set up as a fashion designer in London’s Kensington Market, selling clothes he had made with his partner. His regular and increasingly outlandish appearances on the club circuit led to his opening the club Taboo in Leicester Square in 1985, within which he developed his performing persona. In 1988 he made his first foray into the mainstream London art scene with a one-week performance at the Anthony D’Offay Gallery. Every afternoon for one week Bowery improvised a performance in front of a one-way mirror, wearing a different costume each time and accompanied by a soundtrack of traffic sounds; the narcissism of his outlandish preening and posing, exposed to the audience with a literal transparency, was all the more comical and outrageous given his large and ungainly appearance. His subsequent performances include an appearance in 1993...

Article

(b Glasgow, May 11, 1934; d London, May 4, 2005).

Scottish sculptor, performance artist and painter. He studied law at the University of Glasgow (1955–6) but received no formal art training. He had a number of jobs until devoting himself entirely to art in 1958, when he met the artist Joan Hills (b Edinburgh, 1936) and began living and working with her. His earliest works were paintings, which were featured in his first one-man show in 1963. From 1964 he organized a series of events presented in front of an audience, beginning with Suddenly Last Supper (1964) at a flat in London. This consisted of films projected on to a variety of surfaces, including a reproduction of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (original Florence, Uffizi) projected on to a nude woman in the same pose; the films were destroyed by fire or acid while still running, and during the performance the entire contents of the flat were removed, leaving the audience alone. Another event staged in London in ...

Article

Ingeborg Kuhn-Régnier

[Erich]

(b Vienna, Jan 4, 1929).

Austrian painter, printmaker, stage designer and singer. He studied from 1945 to 1951 with Albert Paris Gütersloh at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna, where his colleagues included Ernst Fuchs, Wolfgang Hutter (b 1928) and Anton Lehmden (b 1929), with whom he helped develop the style known as Phantastischer Realismus. He first exhibited his works with the Art-Club at the Zedlitzhalle. In 1950 he cycled from Vienna to Paris, also travelling to Spain, North Africa, Israel and Yemen. During this period he struggled to earn a living as a folk singer. From 1958 he lived and worked as an artist in Paris, but from 1964 he divided his time between Vienna and the house he had decorated himself in Ein Hod, an artists’ village in Israel.

Brauer’s early paintings were strongly influenced at first by the peasant paintings of Pieter Bruegel I in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, and then by the work of Hieronymus Bosch; Brauer developed an anecdotal style, mainly depicting rustic landscape genre scenes. After ...

Article

Julia Robinson

(b New York, Aug 27, 1926; d Cologne, Germany, Dec 5, 2008).

American sculptor, performance artist, and writer. A proto-conceptual artist, Brecht emerged as part of the group of avant-garde composers and artists surrounding John Cage in the late 1950s. His model of the ‘event score’, a short textual proposition meant to activate the experience between subject and object, was a pivotal contribution to the conceptual strategies of art in the 1960s. A member of Cage’s Experimental Composition courses at New York’s New School for Social Research (1956–60), he wrote chance-based, indeterminate scores, first for music, and eventually for events in all dimensions. In October 1959 his first solo exhibition, Toward Events: An Arrangement (New York, Reuben Gal.), featured constellations of ready-made objects in familiar ‘frames’, such as a regular medicine cabinet (e.g. Repository, 1961; New York, MOMA) or a suitcase, with instructions indicating how they could be perceived as ‘events’ via suggested (but open) time-based encounters. Between 1959 and ...

Article

Ludwig Tavernier

(b Berlin, Nov 2, 1909; d Bremen, Nov 17, 1973).

German painter. He studied under the wood-engraver Hans Orlowski and the stage designer Harold Bengen at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Berlin (1930–34). Bredow was inspired by Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and, above all, Max Kaus. His depictions of picturesque towns and harbours, coastal and mountain landscapes, fruit and flowers and, less often, of people were shaped by his quest for motifs that characterized the region. They show tensions between glowing, sometimes even incandescent colours and sparsely outlined forms, especially in the watercolours, for example Village Church in Greetsiel (1957; Chemnitz, Städt. Kstsamml.) or Hofwinkel mit Räucherhäuschen (1957; Halle, Staatl. Gal. Moritzburg). In some of his chalk drawings and oil paintings Bredow sought to portray the objective in an abstraction, reminiscent of the geometric idiom of Werner Gilles or the abstract expressionism of Ernst Wilhelm Nay.

G. Meissner: ‘Rudolf Bredow’, Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, 13 (Munich and Leipzig, 1995) G. Meissner...

Article

Alberto Cernuschi

(b Fresnaye-sur-Sarthe, nr Alençon, July 11, 1899; d Paris, March 1, 1979).

French painter, illustrator and stage designer. He studied briefly at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux and from 1917 at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Paris under Eugène Morand (b 1885), whose innovative teaching influenced his later work.

Brianchon was an eclectic artist, and there are traces in his work of many of the styles that succeeded each other in Paris during the period in which he worked. Taking landscapes, cityscapes and images of women as his main subject-matter, he nevertheless managed to maintain a distinctive approach based on a harmonious colour sense and a concern with calm, silent or moonlit atmospheres. The Courtesans (1932; Paris, Mus. A. Mod. Ville Paris) and Rue La Fontaine (1946; Geneva, Petit Pal.) are typical of his work as a painter. He also produced murals (e.g. Symphony, 1936; Paris, Pal. Chaillot), book illustrations (e.g. lithographs for André Gide’s Le Théâtre complet...

Article

John Varriano

(b Rome, Aug 13, 1616; d after 1690).

Italian architect and painter. She was the first woman to practise architecture whose reputation has survived to the present day. Her father, Giovanni Bricci (1579–1645), was a painter and musician, and her brother Basilio Bricci (1621–92) was himself an architect and painter. The full extent of her activities remains to be explored, but two commissions in Rome stand out. The first of these, the Villa Benedetti (destr. 1849), near the Porta S Pancrazio on the Janiculum Hill, was begun in 1663 for Elpidio Benedetti, agent to Cardinal Jules Mazarin in Rome. The structure if not all of the decoration was completed by 1665. Benedetti was so pleased with the result that in 1677 he published a guidebook to the villa (under an assumed name) giving detailed descriptions and views of the building along with an account of the roles played by Plautilla and her brother, with whom it is said she collaborated. According to Benedetti, Basilio was responsible for most of the architecture of the villa, while Plautilla embellished the interior with numerous allegorical and religious paintings. However, the building contracts and several preparatory drawings (all Rome, Archv Stato) make it clear that it was, in fact, Plautilla who designed the building with little if any creative input from Basilio. Possibly Benedetti was embarrassed to admit that his villa had been designed by a woman. The architecture of the Villa Benedetti, as recorded in views made before ...

Article

Trudy van Zadelhoff

[Johannes] (van)

(b Leiden, c. 1596; d Breda, Sept 13, 1650).

Dutch etcher, painter, poet, musician and botanist. As early as 1610 he enrolled as a student at Leiden University. He was a member of the Muiderkring, a society to which such people as Caspar Barlaeus (1584–1648) and Constantijn Huygens belonged. Although he was a versatile artist, he seems to have been less successful on a social level. Much is known about his life from his correspondence with Huygens. In 1639 he became secretary to the innkeeper in Heusden, near ’s Hertogenbosch, and by 1642 had moved to Amersfoort. At this time he was in close contact with the architect Jacob van Campen, for whom he translated the treatises of Vitruvius and Palladio. In 1646 Huygens found him a job at Breda University, where he taught Greek and botany. But his private life gave rise to criticism: Rivet, the university curator, condemned Brosterhuisen for living with his housekeeper, and on Huygens’s insistence he finally married her. In ...

Article

Isobel Whitelegg

(b Havana, 1968).

Cuban installation and performance artist, active also in the USA. In Havana Bruguera attended the Escuela de Artes Plasticas San Alejandro (1983–7) and completed her first degree at the Instituto Superior de Arte (1987–92). Bruguera is part of a generation of artists who emerged during Cuba’s ‘special period’ (1989–94), the period of extreme economic hardship brought about by the country’s sudden isolation from trade and aid following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. In 1993 and 1994 she published two issues of an underground newspaper entitled Memoria de la postguerra (‘Memory of the Post-war Era’), containing texts by Cuban artists, both those still in Cuba and those in exile. The paper displayed an interest in the affective power of information as it is circulated and withheld, a common theme of her later work.

Bruguera’s use of performance from the mid-1990s onwards brought her work to wider critical attention. In an early piece, ...

Article

Andrew Wilson

(b Ardning, Styria, Sept 27, 1938).

Austrian performance artist, draughtsman, painter and film maker. He studied commercial graphic art at the Akademie für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna between 1957 and 1960. Following visits to Spain and the Venice Biennale of 1960, he started to paint gestural abstractions and came into contact with the Austrian painter Alfons Schilling (b 1934). In 1961 this development was interrupted when he was called up for military service, after which he found it difficult to return to painting, and by the end of 1962 he had started to concentrate on the act of painting rather than on the finished works themselves. He was persuaded by Otto Muehl to create, with his wife Anni, his first Aktion or performance, Ana, in November 1964, which he recorded on film in the first of a series of collaborations with the film maker Kurt Kren (b 1920). This led to his first self-painting ...

Article

Lee Bul  

Joan Kee

(b Yongwol, Kangwon Province, Jan 25, 1964).

Korean mixed media and performance artist. Lee studied sculpture at Hongik University in Seoul. Upon graduation Lee staged performance-based works in venues throughout Seoul and Tokyo during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many of these performances concerned the subject of the human body and deployed the strategy of masquerade to parody and hyperbolize masculine representations of women. At this time Lee also began creating sculptural installations that marked the beginning of her long-standing use of such non-traditional materials as resin, sequins, foam, and rubber. Such materials were often used for their symbolic associations as well as their formal properties.

From around 1996, Lee moved towards an exploration of the imagined body. The references that Lee drew upon became increasingly abstract, although she consistently maintained her interest in exploring the role of formal qualities, such as colour, scale, and texture, in producing meaning. Lee moved from works such as I Need You/Hydra...

Article

Frazer Ward

(b Boston, MA, April 11, 1946; d Topanga Canyon, CA, May 10, 2015).

American performance and installation artist. Burden received a BA from Pomona College, Claremont, CA, and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine, in 1971. Burden made Minimalist sculptures, then viewer-activated sculptural works, before abandoning object-based work in favour of performance for his MFA thesis exhibition, Five Day Locker Piece (26–30 April 1971), when he was locked for five days in a conventional locker, 600 mm high, 600 mm wide, 600 mm deep (the locker above contained five gallons of water, the locker below an empty five-gallon bottle). Burden’s performances, from the 1970s into the early 1980s, frequently involved situations that were apparently dangerous to himself, notoriously so in Shoot (19 Nov 1971; Santa Ana, CA, F Space; see also Body art), in which he arranged to be shot in the left arm by a friend using a .22 gauge rifle from a distance of about 4.5 m—a work that took place in the context of the Vietnam War and tested its invited audience’s relationship to violence and its representation. Other performances tested audience reactions by more passive means, as in ...

Article

Carola Wenzel

[Ludovico] (Ottavio)

(b Mantua, 1636; d Vienna, 1707).

Italian architect and stage designer, active in Austria. He went to Vienna in 1651 as the apprentice of his father, Giovanni Burnacini (d 1655), the Venetian theatre architect who introduced to Vienna the system of stage design developed by Giovanni Battista Aleotti and who produced stage sets in the Florentine–Venetian style of Giulio and Alfonso Parigi and Giacomo Torelli. Lodovico Burnacini was his father’s assistant until the latter’s death and succeeded him in the office of theatre architect and imperial court engineer to Emperor Leopold I. Although he participated in the construction of various imperial castles in the vicinity of Vienna, Burnacini was mainly engaged in theatre design, developing his father’s style of stage settings and becoming the founder of the Viennese style, which had considerable influence on German theatre. Designs for 115 compositions and plays have survived, and many of Burnacini’s designs were reproduced as engravings in luxury editions of the libretti. Holograph drawings are preserved (Vienna, Österreich. Nbib.). They include religious themes, physiognomic sketches, figurines and grotesques as well as narrative illustrations....

Article

Andrew Causey

(b London, March 29, 1905; d Hastings, Oct 22, 1976).

English painter, illustrator and stage designer. As a student at the Chelsea Polytechnic (1921–3) and the Royal College of Art (1923–5) he became a talented figure draughtsman. In the second half of the decade he spent much time in France painting intricately detailed urban scenes, which depicted the low life of Toulon and Marseille. Works such as the watercolour Toulon (1927; priv. col., see Causey, cat. no. 33) were executed in a meticulously finished and vividly coloured decorative style. Burra usually used watercolour and tempera and occasionally collage oil paints.

Burra took ideas from Cubism, Dada (notably George Grosz) and, especially, Surrealism, but his work is also linked with the English satirical tradition of William Hogarth, Thomas Rowlandson and Isaac Cruikshank: Burra loved burlesque and poked fun at people’s pretensions and excesses of style and behaviour, as in John Deth (Homage to Conrad Aiken) (...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Greenboro, AL, 1939; d New York, 1989).

American sculptor, installation artist and performance artist. Burton studied art under Leon Berkowitz (1919–87) in Washington DC and Hans Hofmann in Massachusetts, before moving to New York to study literature, gaining a BA from Columbia University, New York (1962), and an MA from New York University (1963). He first earned a reputation with performance and installation work in the 1970s. His series of Behaviour Tableaux and Chair Tableaux had a dramatic quality, the former actually involving actors in staged confrontations. Pastoral Chair Tableaux (see 1986–7 exh. cat., p. 34) is typical of the latter series: a simple arrangement of chairs on artificial grass in front of a sky-blue curtain, it suggested narrative without making one apparent. Burton’s chair sculptures emerged out of these works in the late 1970s, and it is these for which he became most famous in the subsequent decade. Initially the work represented a humorous take on popular, conventional types of household furniture, but in ...