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Artists Marina Abramović
Marina Abramović Photo

Marina Abramović

Serbian-American Artist

Movements and Styles: Performance Art, Feminist Art

Born: November 30, 1946 - Belgrade, Yugoslavia

Marina Abramović Timeline

Quotes

"To me the pain and the blood are merely means of artistic expression."
Marina Abramović
"Through performance, I found the possibility of establishing a dialogue with the audience through an exchange of energy, which tended to transform the energy itself. I could not produce a single work without the presence of the audience, because the audience gave me the energy to be able, through a specific action, to assimilate it and return it, to create a genuine field of energy."
Marina Abramović
"I started realizing I could use any material I want, fire, water, and the body. The moment when I started using the body, it was such an enormous satisfaction that I had and that I can communicate with the public that I could never do anything else. I could never go back to the seclusion of the studio and be protected by the space there. The only way of expression is to perform."
Marina Abramović
"When I am performing a piece, anything that happens in that moment is part of the piece."
Marina Abramović
"Once, Picasso was asked what his paintings meant. He said, 'Do you ever know what the birds are singing? You dont. But you listen to them anyway.' So, sometimes with art, it is important just to look."
Marina Abramović
"We are always in the space in-between... all the spaces where you are not actually at home. You haven't arrived yet.... This is where our mind is the most open. We are alert, we are sensitive, and destiny can happen. We do not have any barriers and we are vulnerable. Vulnerability is important. It means we are completely alive and this is an extremely important space. This is for me the space from which my work generates."
Marina Abramović

"The audience is like a dog. They can feel immediately that you are afraid, that you are insecure, that you're not in the right state of mind - and they just leave..."

Synopsis

Towards the late 1950s, as abstract art began to lose impetus, many artists across the world began to embrace performance art. Performance had been a feature of avant-garde art since around 1910, but Marina Abramović's work is typical of the aims of the new generation in her eagerness to avoid traditional, object-based art materials (such as paint and canvas), and to cut down the distance between the artist and the audience by making her own body the medium. Born under Yugoslavia's repressive Communist dictatorship, and raised by parents closely tied to the regime, Abramović's dramatic and dangerous performances often seem like cathartic responses to these early experiences of power. She has produced a quantity of sculpture, but she remains best known for performance, and she remains one of only a handful of performance artists of her generation who have continued to perform late in their career.

Key Ideas

Marina Abramović's work is typical of the ritualistic strain in 1960s performance art. It often involves putting herself in grave danger and performing lengthy, harmful routines that result in her being cut or burnt, or enduring some privation. She views her art almost as a sacrificial and religious rite, performed by herself for a congregation of viewers. And the physical ordeals she endures form the basis for exploring such themes as trust, endurance, cleansing, exhaustion, and departure.
We might interpret her work as having displaced art from traditional media such as painting and sculpture, and moved it directly on to her body. Yet far from conceiving it as simply a surface, she has said that she thinks of the body as the "point of departure for any spiritual development."
Between 1976 and 1988 she collaborated with the German-born artist known as Ulay. The performances the pair created during this time often exploited their duality to investigate ideas such as the division between mind and body, nature and culture, active and passive attitudes, and, of course, between male and female.

Biography

Marina Abramović Photo

Childhood

Marina Abramović was born in 1946 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia to parents who held prominent positions in the Communist government. Her father, Vojin, was in the Marshal's elite guard and her mother, Danica, was an art historian who oversaw historic monuments. After her father left the family, her mother took strict control of eighteen-year-old Abramović and her younger brother, Velimir. Her mother was difficult and sometimes violent, yet she supported her daughter's interest in art. While growing up, Abramović saw numerous Biennales in Venice, exposing her to artists outside of Communist Yugoslavia such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Louise Nevelson.

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Marina Abramović Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Marina Abramović
Interactive chart with Marina Abramović's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Vito AcconciVito Acconci
Bruce NaumanBruce Nauman
Chris BurdenChris Burden
Joseph BeuysJoseph Beuys
Yves KleinYves Klein

Personal Contacts

VALIE EXPORTVALIE EXPORT
Susan SontagSusan Sontag
UlayUlay

Movements

Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
Performance ArtPerformance Art

Influences on Artist
Marina Abramović
Marina Abramović
Years Worked: 1970 - Present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Ana MendietaAna Mendieta
Matthew BarneyMatthew Barney
Coco FuscoCoco Fusco
Karen FinleyKaren Finley

Personal Contacts

UlayUlay
Laurie AndersonLaurie Anderson
Charles AtlasCharles Atlas

Movements

Performance ArtPerformance Art
Feminist ArtFeminist Art

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Content compiled and written by Rachel Gershman

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Rachel Gershman
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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