What's Happening? Allan Kaprow and Claes Oldenburg Argue About Art And Life

Ehninger, Eva Martina (2014). What's Happening? Allan Kaprow and Claes Oldenburg Argue About Art And Life. Getty Research Journal, 6, pp. 195-202. Getty Research Institute

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In 1961 Allan Kaprow (1927–2006) and Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929) exchanged a number of letters in which they argued about the definition of their avant-garde practices as Happenings. Kaprow, who first introduced this "root-metaphor," as he would later call it, describes with it the necessity of the respective activity to be as far removed as possible from all motives, materials, and formats conventionally connected to art. Oldenburg, who at the time of this exchange was just as active in the New York performance scene as Kaprow, disagrees with his colleague's removal of their practice from the artistic sphere. Oldenburg is also dissatisfied with the fact that Kaprow, through his writings, launches a critical discourse that follows his own definition of the Happening. The two artists thus argue just as much about the positioning of their practices with respect to art as over the authority to establish such a position. This essay traces their argument through their written conversation and in doing so exposes the immense influence Kaprow's rhetoric had on the subsequent art-historical canonization of their respective practices: Oldenburg's more ambivalent position is today amalgamated with Kaprow's theoretical stance.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Art History > Contemporary Art
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Art History

UniBE Contributor:

Ehninger, Eva Martina

Subjects:

700 Arts

ISSN:

1944-8740

Publisher:

Getty Research Institute

Language:

English

Submitter:

Eva Martina Ehninger

Date Deposited:

05 Sep 2014 08:19

Last Modified:

05 Sep 2014 08:19

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/48464

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