Allan Kaprow  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Allan Kaprow (August 23, 1927 - April 5, 2006) was an American painter, assemblagist and a pioneer in establishing the concepts of performance art. He helped to develop the "Environment" and "Happening" in the late 1950s and 1960s, as well as their theory. His Happenings - some 200 of them - evolved over the years. Eventually Kaprow shifted his practice into what he called "Activities", intimately-scaled pieces for one or several players and devoted to the examination of everyday behaviors and habits in a way nearly indistinguishable from ordinary life. Fluxus, Performance art, and Installation art was, in turn, influenced by his work.

He studied (time-based) composition with John Cage at his famous class at the New School for Social Research, painting with Hans Hofmann, and art history with Meyer Schapiro. Kaprow's work attempts to integrate art and life. Through Happenings, the separation between life and art, and artist and audience becomes blurred. He has published extensively and was Professor Emeritus in the Visual Arts Department of the University of California, San Diego. Kaprow is also known for the idea of "un-art", found in his essays "Art Which Can't Be Art" and "The Education of the Un-Artist."

His influence is also evident at the California Institute of the Arts, where he taught during the early formative years.

For more information on his work while at Rutgers University, see Fluxus at Rutgers University.


"The line between art and life should be kept as fluid, and perhaps indistinct, as possible."

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