Allan Kaprow Painting 1946-1957
Allan Kaprow (1927–2006) is internationally renowned mainly as an action artist. Not only did he coin the term Happening—he gave distinction to this art form in New York in the late 1950s. Also his environments—huge, changeable installations, made from material such as car tires, drums and ice blocks – are regarded as milestones in recent art history. Allan Kaprow did, however, began his artistic career as a painter, not least in connection with his studies under Hans Hofmann; in addition, he studied art history under Meyer Shapiro and composition with John Cage. He was, therefore, not only open to theory at an early stage, but also to various artistic and interpretative approaches. He always moved between the tension-filled areas of intuition, open form and time reference on the one hand, and the reflexive practice as a theoretician and art historian on the other. The exhibition at Villa Merkel in Esslingen was, for the first time, exclusively dedicated to his early paintings from the time between 1946 and 1957, and reveals the role models the young artist chose to follow and work on, and, in particular, his interest in questions on space as well as his endeavor to somehow contextualize the achievements of Jackson Pollock and John Cage. This extends to the works created during the mid-1950s, which he called »action collages« and in which he gradually incorporated everyday materials and objects. The current book presents a large number of previously unseen paintings by Allan Kaprow.