Allen Kaprow


Allan Kaprow was born in Atlantic City in 1927, and died when he was 78 because of a natural illness. Kaprow began his career as an abstract painter in the 1940’s with Hans Hofmann school of Fine Arts. He was influenced by composer John Cage, whose Kaprow studied with from 1956- 1958 for Social Research; and also Dewey’s book “Art as Experience.” Kaprow combined the choice and accident to create a new art.


Allan Kaprow changed the meaning of the art by the idea of happenings, which shows any action at a time. This was an important revolution in the history of the art. Considering his definition of art, art is not an object on the wall like a painting or creating a harmonic music; rather, it can be any movement, scence or sound around us. Although some people still believe in the traditional definition of art, Kaprow conveyed the idea that there is not any distinction between viewers and the art work. For example, in the “Yard”, he invites the viewers to interact with the old tires. In the picture below, we can see people are jumping, walking and rearranging the tires. In Kaprow’s view of art, these people and their movements are part of the art.


Kaprow erased the boundary between the art and non- art. Some people named the Kaprow anti art. After one of his performances, he invited the people to build a structure of ice under the sun, which is shown below. The name of this artwork is “Fluid”, and the purpose of this activity was isolating the experience at the same time of engaging the attention. As we know, the ice blocks under sun are going to melt before ending the project. Regarding this point, we can realize that Kaprow tries to show that the art is more about creating than what is created.


From the video about artist of the week, we learn that Kaprow stopped when he was in the top of the art world, and walked away from New York. He decided to slow down and think about every detail of creating of an artwork. We can see this in the “fluid” very clearly. If we want to see the end sculpture, we cannot see the structure made of ice blocks, because as we mentioned before the ice is going to melt during the work. But, if we see the art as Kaprow view, we can see the creation of this structure as an art. Allen Kaprow was the most famous artist that connected the art and life. In order to wrap the idea, Allan Kaprow believed an art not in the past , not in the future, but at the moment.


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