WK 6 – Artist of the Week – Allan Kaprow

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About the Artist

Allan Kaprow was born on August 23, 1927 in Atlantic City, New Jersey and passed away on April 5, 2006. He passed away in Encinitas, California. He is an American painter, assemblagist, and a pioneer of the concepts of the performance arts. He was influenced by John Dewey’s literary work Art as Experience, and in the following years he would be responsible for having the term “happenings” coined, and utilized as a method of art. Happenings are finished art pieces taking on the forms of arts media (paintings, music and dance) through the use of ordinary objects or actions (such as using news paper, noise, and body movements).

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Formal Analysis

Going back to the term “happenings”, this new style of art was created by Kaprow. And by observing his works, primarily his happenings, he does in fact use people and just ordinary things to create his finished art works. For example, the above illustration is where Kaprow used a bunch of car tires and women to act as models essentially. But he also has what it seems to be some action, where in this particular art piece the girl is running from tire to tire. Also, most of these were taken as early as 1958, so the most of his finished projects lack color.

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Content Analysis

Kaprow’s happenings brought in an entirely new method of creating art. With the utilization of everyday objects, he was able to create works of art that are still being studied by other artists practicing in the field of happenings. Specifically looking at Koprow’s happenings, there is a great sense of variety of interpretation of what’s happening behind his art works. In the above art piece for example, it raises many questions: why is the woman wrapped up in aluminum foil in a car? Who is the man with this woman? Where is this car going? All in all, the interpretation that is a resultant of these happenings is in fact a part of the finished art work.

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Thesis/ My Experience

I really like Allan Kaprow! Although he is a much older artist, he is the person responsible with the creation and utilization of “happenings”. A new method of art while using just ordinary objects to create legit arts media, Kaprow revolutionized the art world. I think it’s important for a lot of people to use happenings as a technique to create art for it is a great way to send messages and makes people be resourceful when it comes to creating art.

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