Robert Whitman - Performances from the 1960s (1963 - 1966)

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Robert Whitman created some of the earliest and most important performance works of the 1960s. In his performances, the poetic and often surprising interaction of film, lights, sound, live performers, props, and objects that take on a life of their own create a dense visual, non-narrative dramatic structure.

This DVD captures for the viewer important and seminal examples of this ephemeral art form. It makes available for the first time original recordings of three of Whitman’s 1960s performances and documents the creative thinking of an innovative artist – and the artistic climate of the time.

Included is original footage of The American Moon (1960) and Flower (1963), both filmed by Whitman as notes to himself, and short documentaries about the works – featuring interviews with Trisha Brown, Jim Dine, Simone Forti, Claes Oldenburg, Lucas Samaras, and the artist. A recent performance of Prune Flat (1965) is accompanied by an interview with Whitman on the piece. A bonus video presents Ghost, Whitman’s recent theater work, first performed in September 2002, with notes by Lynne Cooke and Arne Glimcher.

Robert Whitman was born in New York City in 1935. He studied literature at Rutgers University from 1953 to 1957 and art history at Columbia University in 1958. He began in the late fifties to present performances, including the pioneering works American Moon (1960) and Prune Flat (1965), as well as to exhibit his multimedia work in some of New York's more influential experimental venues, such as the Hansa, Reuben, and Martha Jackson galleries. With the scientists Fred Waldhauer and Billy Klüver and artist Robert Rauschenberg, Whitman cofounded, in 1966, Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), a loose-knit association that organized collaborations between artists and scientists. His one-person exhibitions include such venues as the Jewish Museum, New York (1968), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1968), the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1973). Dia organized a retrospective of his theater works in 1976. Several theater projects have also toured to various European venues, including the Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1987 and 1989) and the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2001 and 2002).

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