Alison Knowles, Dried mushroom, 2009, Lost-wax silver casting, 8 × 5 cm, Edition of 5 plus I AP
Courtesy of Nicola Viviani
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Originally considered lost, the edition was recovered in 2018 by Nicola Viviani during his PhD research at the University of Warwick, UK.
  • Lost-wax silver casting
  • 8 × 5 cm
    (3 ⅛ × 2 inches)
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  • Alison Knowles was among the original protagonists of Fluxus. Her graphic and pictorial works are distinguished by a textured, consistent, and tactile quality. Her performances are characterized by the indeterminacy of the scores, repetition, and everyday life. Knowles graduated in Fine Arts from Pratt University in 1956. Among her early mentors were leading figures of Abstract Expressionism, such as Adolph Gottlieb, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock, as well as, especially, Marcel Duchamp and John Cage, a collaborator and friend. Knowles married Dick Higgins in 1960 and became one of the key supporters of the activities of Something Else Press. As a core member of Fluxus, Maciunas designed Knowles’s first book-object, Bean Rolls (1963). The traditional dimension of the book was reinterpreted by Knowles on several occasions by augmenting its scale, as in the case of Big Book (1967), or through the visionary use of new technologies, as in the computer-generated poem “The House of Dust” (1967). Part of the experiments that gravitate around the sculptural potential of the book also encompasses later works such as the Large Pages series (1982) and the performance Loose Pages (1983). In 1962, Proposition #2: Make a Salad premiered at the ICA – Institute for Contemporary Arts in London, proposing the simple act of making a salad with the audience. The seemingly mundane task of food preparation was made theatrical, drawing attention to everyday simplicity, and subverting the submissiveness of the stereotype of female domesticity. Make a Salad has since been performed at the Tate Modern in London (2008), on the High Line in New York (2008), and most recently at Art Basel (2016). Strongly aligned with the minimalism of George Brecht’s event scores is also the series of communal meals, The Identical Lunch (1969), performances based on the habit of eating the same food at the same time every day. Knowles’s profound contributions to contemporary art have been widely recognized and honored by, among others, a Guggenheim Grant (1967), two National Endowment for the Arts Grants (1981 and 1985), and a College Art Association Lifetime Achievement Award (2003). In addition to her participation in numerous international exhibitions, a more recent retrospective was held at the BAMPFA – Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, California (2022).

Artworks (16)