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David Kinmont

(b Paris, Oct 18, 1859; d Paris, Jan 3, 1941).

French philosopher. The son of a Polish Jewish musician, he took his baccalauréat at the Lycée Condorcet in Paris and entered the Ecole Normale Supérieure in 1878. He gained his Licencié ès Lettres in 1879 and during 1881–8 taught in secondary schools at Angers, Clermont Ferrand and Paris. The publication of one of his two doctoral theses, Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience (Paris, 1889), brought him public recognition. It was followed in 1896 by Matière et mémoire.

Bergson was concerned with the problem of expression, and he attempted to resist the linguistic snares that he associated with conceptual thinking, arguing instead for an organic philosophy. He was aware of the inadequacies of the mechanistic determinism of 19th-century scientism, especially as presented in the English philosopher Herbert Spencer’s First Principles (London, 1862). Bergson saw reality as a constant state of dynamic flux in which past, present and future formed a single continuum. The question of time was all important to him, and he insisted that the time of consciousness existed on multiple interrelated levels. The fusion of these heterogeneous instants comprised a duration. This was not purely quantitative measurable time, but time as it is experienced by human consciousness. To Bergson, duration meant memory, and memory was synonymous with consciousness, an unending flow rather than a succession of discrete instants....

Article

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

Paul Vogt and Ita Heinze-Greenberg

International movement in art and architecture, which flourished between c. 1905 and c. 1920, especially in Germany. It also extended to literature, music, dance and theatre. The term was originally applied more widely to various avant-garde movements: for example it was adopted as an alternative to the use of ‘Post-Impressionism’ by Roger Fry in exhibitions in London in 1910 and 1912. It was also used contemporaneously in Scandinavia and Germany, being gradually confined to the specific groups of artists and architects to which it is now applied.

Expressionism in the fine arts developed from the Symbolist and expressive trends in European art at the end of the 19th century. The period of ‘classical Expressionism’ began in 1905, with the foundation of the group Brücke, Die, and ended c. 1920. Although in part an artistic reaction both to academic art and to Impressionism, the movement should be understood as a form of ‘new ...

Article

Amanda du Preez

Term used to indicate the complex visual matrix incorporating the one who looks as well as the one who is looked at. This means the one who imposes the gaze and the one who is the object of the gaze are both implicated in the construction of the gaze. The concept was addressed initially by Sigmund Freud’s concept of scopophilia (‘pleasure in looking’ or voyeurism) and later in Jacques Lacan’s formulation of the mirror stage and its role in identity formation. Lacan formulated the complex role of the gaze in constructing the relation between interior self and exterior world as two kinds of subjects—not only as a powerful subject gazing at the world but also as a lacking, objectified subject encountering the gaze outside himself. For the most part the link between the gaze and power is entrenched in theories on the gaze, since the directed gaze of the powerful subject has the ability to subjugate and even petrify its objects as exemplified in the terrifying gaze of Medusa in Greek mythology. The construction of the gaze happens within an asymmetry of power. In recent times, the gaze has become a trope within visual culture for the critical analysis of several entwined ideas concerning class, race, ethnography, sex, gender, religion, embodiment, ideology, power, and visuality. In this article the powerful directed gaze is analysed through the categories of the clinical gaze, colonial gaze, touristic gaze, and the male gaze. Finally, theorizing possibilities of going beyond the gaze are considered....

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

John R. Neeson

Installation art is a hybrid of visual art practices including photography, film, video, digital imagery, sound, light, performance, happenings, sculpture, architecture, and painted and drawn surfaces. An installation is essentially site specific, three-dimensional, and completed by the interaction of the observer/participant in real time and space. The point of contention with any definition concerns the site specificity, ephemerality, and consequently ‘collectability’ of the work itself. One view has it that the category installation is presupposed on the transitory and impermanent, the second that an installation can be collected and re-exhibited as a conventional work of art.

In either case installation had its genesis in the environments and happenings devised by artists in the 1950s in New York and Europe (Nouveau Réalisme in France, Arte Povera in Italy). These in turn had antecedents in the architectural/sculptural inventions such as the various Proun rooms of El Lissitzky and the Merzbau of Kurt Schwitters...

Article

RoseLee Goldberg

Reviser Margaret Barlow

Descriptive term applied to ‘live’ presentations by artists. It was first used very loosely by artists in the early 1960s in the USA to refer to the many live events taking place at that time, such as Happenings, Fluxus concerts, Events, body art, or (in Germany) Aktionen and Demonstrationen. In 1969 performance was more specifically incorporated into titles of work in the USA and UK and was interchangeable with ‘performance piece’ or simply ‘piece’, as in Vito Acconci’s Performance Test or Following Piece (both 1969), and by many other artists such as Dennis Oppenheim, Yoko Ono (see fig.), Dan Graham, Rebecca Horn, Joan Jonas, Laurie Anderson, and Bruce Nauman. It was closely linked to the ideological tenets and philosophy of Conceptual art, which insisted on ‘an art of which the material is concepts’ and on ‘an art that could not be bought and sold’; those who made performance pieces did so as a statement against the gallery system and the art establishment....

Article

Nadja Rottner

French critic and philosopher Nicolas Bourriaud adopted the term ‘relational aesthetics’ in the mid-1990s to refer to the work of a selected group of artists, and what he considers their novel approach to a socially conscious art of participation: an art that takes as its content the human relations elicited by the artwork. Its key practitioners, most of them emerging in the 1990s, include Rirkrit Tiravanija , Philippe Parreno (b 1964), Liam Gillick, Pierre Huyghe, Maurizio Cattelan, Carsten Höller , and Vanessa Beecroft . For example, Carsten Höller installed Test Site (2006) at the Tate Modern in London so that visitors could enjoy the amusement park thrill of large playground slides in the museum’s Turbine Hall, and bond with fellow viewers over their experience. Bourriaud’s collected writings in Relational Aesthetics (1998, Eng. edn 2002) helped to spark a new wave of interest in participatory art.

While Bourriaud omits acknowledging the historical roots of relational art, Marxist-influenced critiques of the changing conditions of modern life, and arguments for art’s ability to improve man’s relationship with reality have a long history in 20th-century art. Critics Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer were among the first to developed new models for an art of politicized participation in the 1920s. The relational art of the 1990s and early 2000s is a continuation and an extension of traditions of participatory art throughout the 20th century (such as ...