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Artists Carolee Schneemann
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Carolee Schneemann

American Performance Artist and Video Artist

Movements and Styles: Feminist Art, Performance Art, Body Art

Born: October 12, 1939 - Fox Chase, Pennsylvania

Carolee Schneemann Timeline

Quotes

"It was in the body that the energy and the confirmation of what I'd seen and lived was coherent. That was an area that hadn't been colonized."
Carolee Schneemann
"I can make something taboo so formally compelling the taboo becomes the after-effect. That makes it much more powerful."
Carolee Schneemann
"As I hacked at the excluding vital surfaces of Abstract Expressionism, my entire body ripped through the canvas to emerge on the other side in actual time and space as an active and activating form."
Carolee Schneemann
"By the year 2000 no young woman artist will meet the determined resistance and constant undermining which I endured as a student. Her studio and history [sic] courses will usually be taught by women; she will never feel like a provisional guest at the banquet of life or a monster defying her 'God-given' role; or a belligerent whose devotion to creativity could only exist at the expense of a man, or men and their needs. Nor will she go into the 'art world,' gracing or disgracing a pervading stud club of artists, historians, teachers, museum directors, magazine editors, gallery dealers - all male, or committed to masculine preserves. All that is marvellously, already falling around our feet."
Carolee Schneemann
"I was always discouraged, ... Even when I had a fellowship for painting, some of my teachers were very hostile. 'You're taking this too seriously. You're only a girl. Don't set your heart on art.' My boyfriends in college stole my brushes and my books, like, 'We need this more than you do.'"
Carolee Schneemann
"The female nude is part of a revered tradition, although she is not to take authority over depictions of her nudity. She is just to be available."
Carolee Schneemann
"I thought it would be seen as an integrated, powerful event. It wasn't. It was taken as narcissism and self-indulgence by the critics. They said, 'If you want to paint, put your clothes back on.' It's always been like that."
Carolee Schneemann

"I always thought, 'This is something they need. My culture is going to recognize it's missing something.'"

Carolee Schneemann Signature

Synopsis

Throughout her career Carolee Schneemann has used her body to examine the role of female sensuality in connection to the possibilities of political and personal liberation from predominantly oppressive social and aesthetic conventions. Drawing on the expressive possibilities of film, performance, photography, and installation, among other media, she has explored themes of generation and goddess imagery, sexuality, and everyday erotics, as well as personal biography and loss. Although renowned for her work in performance and other media, Schneemann began her career as a painter, stating, "I'm a painter. I'm still a painter and I will die a painter. Everything that I have developed has to do with extending visual principles off the canvas." She continues to perform, film, and record through the present day, and has been acknowledged by many as progenitor of Feminist art, as well as performance and multimedia art.

Key Ideas

While still in college, Schneemann adopted a feminist perspective, citing the hierarchal ideals of the 1950s American gallery system, the negative attitudes of male teachers, and the erasure of women's art history as influences. She incorporates feminist ideas into her art as well as her writing, teaching and lecturing, constantly reaffirming her position as a pivotal figure in the feminist movement.
Schneemann's explorations in the early 1960s opened performance art to include inquiries about sensuality and sexuality. Prior to her works, the majority of performance art was formal experimentation, rather than a specific investigation into the taboo realm of the liberating possibilities of the sexual female body.
By using her body as her primary medium, Schneemann emphasized women's agency, situating women as both the creator and an active part of the creation itself, giving the female form in art a subjectivity it previously lacked. She firmly established her practice in opposition to the traditional representation of women merely as nude objects.

Biography

Carolee Schneemann Photo

Childhood

Carolee Schneemann was born and raised in Fox Chase, Pennsylvania. She began drawing at a young age and cites this as an early premonition about her future career. She visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a young adult and recalls feeling a strong connection to the artwork. She was the first woman in her family to attend college and received a full scholarship to Bard, where she completed her Bachelor of Arts degree. While at Bard, she studied painting at Columbia University, where she met her first husband, James Tenney, an experimental music composer. She received her MFA from the University of Illinois in 1962 and she and Tenney returned to New York.

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Carolee Schneemann Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

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

Artists

Allan KaprowAllan Kaprow
Willem de KooningWillem de Kooning
Marcel DuchampMarcel Duchamp

Personal Contacts

Allan KaprowAllan Kaprow
Dick HigginsDick Higgins
Claes OldenburgClaes Oldenburg
George BrechtGeorge Brecht
Robert MorrisRobert Morris

Movements

HappeningsHappenings
Performance ArtPerformance Art
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism

Influences on Artist
Carolee Schneemann
Carolee Schneemann
Years Worked: late 1950s to present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Ana MendietaAna Mendieta
The Guerrilla GirlsThe Guerrilla Girls
Tracey EminTracey Emin
Cindy ShermanCindy Sherman

Personal Contacts

Claes OldenburgClaes Oldenburg
Robert RauschenbergRobert Rauschenberg
George BrechtGeorge Brecht

Movements

Performance ArtPerformance Art
Body ArtBody Art
FluxusFluxus

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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