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Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life

Allan Kaprow's 'happenings' and 'environments' were the precursors to contemporary performance art, and his essays are some of the most thoughtful, provocative, and influential of his generation. His sustained inquiry into the paradoxical relationship of art to life and into the nature of meaning itself is brought into focus in this newly expanded collection of his most significant writings. A new preface and two new additional essays published in the 1990s bring this valuable collection up to date.
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About the Author

Allan Kaprow is Professor Emeritus of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego. Jeff Kelley is a critic and teacher.


In the late 1950s, Kaprow coined the word ``happenings'' to describe the performance pieces that approximated in art the unpredictability of everyday life. In this collection of 23 thought-provoking essays, reviews and manifestos written between 1958 and 1990, Kaprow takes aim at an insular art avant-garde. Criticizing popular trends in modern art (colorfield, hard edge, pop, video art, assemblage, etc.) as ``developmental'' instead of truly experimental, he envisages a more ``lifelike'' art that probes, tests and reintegrates reality. For Kaprow, who is currently a performance artist and a visual arts professor at UC-San Diego, it is the neo-Dadaist Fluxus artists, earthworkers, body artists, shamans and performance poets who point the way toward a participatory art rooted in daily activities. Illustrated with photos and reproductions of artworks, these essays give Kaprow's take on artists such as Mondrian and Jackson Pollock and on wider topics like the transition of the artist from Beatnik to businessman. (Oct.)

"These writings. . . radiate the quiet wonder of life."--John C. Welchman, "Artforum"

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