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Title: Experience, chance and change : Allan Kaprow and the tension between art and life, 1948-1976
Author: Allen, Chay
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis addresses critically the work of American artist Allan Kaprow (1927-2006), focusing especially on the tensions Kaprow proposed between 'art' and 'life'. It presents a reconsideration of the most fertile period in Kaprow's career, from his undergraduate studies in the late 1940s to his mature work of the 1970s, prior to the increasing demands made on him to produce re-enactments of his early work. The period 1948-1976 presents a fuller overview of the themes and motivations of his practice than has been scrutinised in the existing literature. The research is based on extensive examination of the Allan Kaprow Papers at the Getty Institute, Los Angeles, which revealed significant and previously unstudied documentation and images. This archive and Kaprow's personal library in Encinitas, California have provided substantial previously unpublished evidence of his early interest in the American pragmatist John Dewey, and reveal many of the motivations for Kaprow's emphasis on change, together with his relational approach to form, context and process. The role of composer John Cage in the development of Kaprow's thoughts on chance helps elucidate the complexities inherent in the development of Kaprow's negotiation between chance and control. The present study also gives, for the first time, a comparative and detailed reading of the five drafts of Kaprow's Assemblage, Environments and Happenings (1966), a reading which sheds fresh light on his art and publications of the period. The thesis also presents a thorough reconsideration of the significance of play in Kaprow's work of the late 1960s and 1970s, including the tensions between and among play, work, hierarchy and liberation. Kaprow's many struggles to conceptualise and reconcile these tensions, and others, such as between audience and participant, private and public and narrative and history, were a necessary feature of the categories of art and artistic identity, including 'Happening', 'Activity' and 'Un-artist' that he helped bring into being.
Supervisor: Taylor, Brandon; Schaar, Elisa; Reed-Tsocha, Katerina Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Art ; Fine art ; Allan Kaprow ; Happenings