Allan Kaprow, Days Off. A Calendar of Happenings, 1970, Photo offset on newsprint, staples, 39 × 28 cm
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
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Artist book cataloging "Happenings" in a staple-bound, hole-punched, tear sheet calendar format printed on newsprint.
  • Photo offset on newsprint, staples
  • 39 × 28 cm
    (15 ⅜ × 11 inches)
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  • Allan Kaprow is notoriously acknowledged as the father of Happenings, performances taking place in more than one spatial and temporal situation, activated by performers and the audience. He graduated from New York University, further specializing at Columbia University, where he attended courses on medieval and modern art under the prominent art historian and critic Meyer Schapiro. Kaprow later studied composition under John Cage at The New School in 1957. Along with artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Geoffrey Hendricks, and Robert Watts, Kaprow was also a professor at Rutgers University’s Douglass campus, a place that would become particularly important for experimentation involving Fluxus and Intermedia. Kaprow was one of the first modern artists to defy the commodification of art and campaigned for its liberation from restrictive museum structures. For the first time, stepping out of the role of passive agent, the public was also called upon to actively participate in the events and their unfolding. In 18 Happenings in 6 Parts (1959), first presented at the Reuben Gallery, New York, of which Kaprow himself was a founder, the audience was invited to complete the event by conducting a series of tasks using instructions outlined in a score. Alongside the term Happening, another fundamental entity for Kaprow is constituted around the concept of the “environment.” The term denotes a large-scale, interactive, immersive installation involving an enclosed space. A renowned example is Yard (1961), originally conceived for the sculpture garden of the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York and later recreated for other galleries and institutional spaces. Kaprow was awarded two National Endowment for the Arts grants (1974 and 1979) and a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship (1979). He lectured at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. His oeuvre includes not only performance art but also assemblages, paintings, and collages, which have been presented in numerous international galleries and museums, including the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; the Tate Modern, London; the mumok – Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

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