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Artists Laurie Anderson
Laurie Anderson Photo

Laurie Anderson

American Multimedia Artist and Musician

Movements and Styles: Performance Art, Installation Art

Born: June 5, 1947 - Glenn Ellyn, Illinois, USA

Laurie Anderson Timeline

Quotes

"Secretly I do think that stories can, as you say, cure you but you have to find out what's wrong first. So my goal would never be to make anyone feel better, ever, because I ... I try to make stories that really engage my mind ... I certainly would never say that it's to make things better."
Laurie Anderson
"I try to play around with small elements in it which you are no longer sure who the narrator is and what the situation is."
Laurie Anderson
"When young artists say "how did you start?" I always just say 'try to do something on the right scale, something that you can do yourself, instead of dreaming of these big systems that will solve all your problems, the big camera you need to do that, you know, use a small camera'...I really think that very dangerous art can be made with a pencil...I'm very hands-on, I really love keeping it simple."
Laurie Anderson
"Everyone is always multitasking, you are reading your email and you're having a conversation at the same time and you are aware of what's going on over there and maybe sooner or later we're going to implode, but for the moment we can almost do that. Maybe we'll catch up and maybe we'll get a little faster. I hope actually we get slower, because slower for me is deeper."
Laurie Anderson
"When I hear ideas about 'Art should make the world a better place' it just makes my blood run cold. I'm like 'Better for who?' Secretly I do make work to make the world a better place but I would never say that...I guess I just did."
Laurie Anderson

"I'm always curious about the mechanics of the story, who is narrating and I like to try to play with that. I learned how to use the word 'you' from William Burroughs.. I was into more slightly playing with the autobiographical I, but Burroughs was really wonderful at saying 'you people, you people who are in the audience' ... so I began to write somethings that were addressed that way, almost like political speeches."

Laurie Anderson Signature

Synopsis

Laurie Anderson is a highly acclaimed performance artist who also became an unlikely pop star in the 1980s. She was a pioneer of multimedia Performance and Installation art, before crossing over into the popular music industry with songs from her large-scale performance pieces, later producing full albums for commercial release. As one of the first artists of her downtown New York context to achieve a level of commercial fame, she was at the forefront of debates around the influence of mass media on the art world. She has since been recognized as being remarkably ahead of her time in embracing of new technologies in art and performance practice, and in her engagement with new media to share her work.

Anderson is a classically interdisciplinary artist, drawing on the forms, techniques and strategies of many different art forms and expressing herself across a huge array of different mediums. Performances, music, installations and film works are often autobiographical in nature, and encourage a sense of intimacy with the viewer through her characteristically meditative tone and calm delivery. Despite this calmness, Anderson's work often features political content and engages with societal issues. Her work often involves mediating and changing her own voice as she tells stories and narrates her thoughts, framed by the striking images she creates through props, costumes and the innovative use of projection and lighting. Her artworks therefore often have a futuristic, almost science-fiction aesthetic.

Key Ideas

Anderson's practice straddles several distinct artistic disciplines, questioning the division between them and opening up new hybrid possibilities for artists and musicians. She draws on her abilities as a musician, performer, conceptual artist, scientist and inventor to blend together aesthetic elements from art, theatre, opera, popular music and scientific and technological experimentation, also encouraging the cross-pollination of audiences between forms.
Technological innovation has always been key to Anderson's work, from her aural experimentation with tape loops, overdubbing, and recording technology in the 1970s and 80s to her use of projection and experimental theatrical lighting. This introduced new aesthetic vocabularies to galleries and performance spaces. She continues to innovate with her most recent digital experiments in virtual reality and binaural sound.
Her work has been particularly significant in the development of performance art in the 20th century. Anderson embarked on high profile and large-scale performances in the 1980s that introduced the more traditionally theatrical elements of large and carefully designed sets and props, extensive rehearsal and repeat performances to an art form previously dominated by spontaneity and a DIY aesthetic.
Electronic music has also been hugely influenced by Anderson. Her pioneering use of synthesizers, vocoders, and sampling technology on her albums in the 1980s are regularly cited as an inspiration by later musicians, as they were some of the first records played on commercial radio and TV.
Anderson contributed and corresponded to the postmodern dismantling of hierarchies of culture, making clear to her audiences, and artists inspired by her, that the border between 'high' and 'low' culture was artificial. In her work concepts and strategies rooted in experimental art forms and influenced by other artists and art movements are used within mass media contexts, such as the music industry or commercial television. And ideas and aesthetics from television, popular music, and commercial theatre were similarly brought back into the 'high culture' context of the gallery and opera house.

Biography

Laurie Anderson Photo

Childhood

Laurie Anderson was born in the Glenn Ellyn suburb of Chicago in 1947. She was originally named Laura Phillips, and grew up in a family of ten with four brothers and three sisters. At the age of five, Anderson began studying classical violin. As she explains, "All the kids were more or less forced to play an instrument. And some of them had absolutely no musical talent whatsoever. But they banged away on things anyway, because my parents thought it would be nice to have an orchestra." As a teenager, she would practice up to six hours a day, and often performed with the Chicago Youth Symphony. Anderson also took advanced art classes at the Institute of Chicago, and her early years were split equally between music and painting.

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Influences and Connections

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

Artists

Carl AndreCarl Andre
John CageJohn Cage
William S. BurroughsWilliam S. Burroughs

Personal Contacts

Philip GlassPhilip Glass
Lou Reed
David BowieDavid Bowie
Vito AcconciVito Acconci

Movements

MinimalismMinimalism
FluxusFluxus
Anarchitecture
DadaDada

Influences on Artist
Laurie Anderson
Laurie Anderson
Years Worked: 1969 - Present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Sophie CalleSophie Calle
Jean-Michel André Jarre
Cut Copy
Susan Stenger
Isaac Butler

Personal Contacts

Lou Reed
Philip GlassPhilip Glass
Carl AndreCarl Andre
Robert LePage

Movements

Performance ArtPerformance Art
Contemporary Theatre
Electronic Music
Spoken-Word Performance

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Lilly Markaki

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Lewis Church

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Lilly Markaki
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Lewis Church
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