Primarily an avant-garde form, performance art is often emotional and topical, frequently dealing with political and personal matters and with such issues as race, class, and feminism. Probably the best-known contemporary American performance artist is Laurie Anderson; others include Nam June Paik (also involved earlier with happenings), cellist Charlotte Moorman (whose avant-garde performances began in the 1960s), Michael Smith, Vito Acconci, Carolee Schneeman, Martha Wilson, and Marina Abramovic (who worked in Europe until 1988 with fellow artist Ulay). Often classified as performance artists are such monologist-writers Eric Bogosian, Spalding Gray, Karen Finley, Anna Deavere Smith, and John Leguizamo. The form enjoyed a widespread revival in the early 21st cent., with museums and galleries restaging works originally created in the 1970s and also presenting new examples of the art.
See G. Battcock and R. Nickas ed., The Art of Performance (1983); M. Roth ed., The Amazing Decade: Women and Performance Art in America, 1970–1980 (1983); R. Goldberg, Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present (1988); H. M. Sayre, The Object of Performance (1989); C. Carr, On Edge: Performance at the End of the Twentieth Century (1993); P. Phelan, Unmarked: The Politics of Performance (1993); and E. Diamond, ed., Performance and Cultural Politics (1996).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: American and Canadian Art