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Allan Kaprow. Other Ways

Allan Kaprow. Other Ways, the exhibition the Fundació Antoni Tàpies is dedicating to Allan Kaprow (Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1927 – Encinitas, California, 2006), recovers some of the issues that the artist worked on throughout his career, through a series of happenings and activities (the name he gave to happenings from the late 1960s, when his work became more intimate) that reclaim its contemporary relevance.

In the second half of the 1940s, Kaprow was studying painting under Hans Hoffman when he discovered its performative potential. This finding led him to explore first collage and later environments (installations of objects that invite viewers to participate). In 1959, heavily influenced by Jackson Pollock and his willingness to mix art with life, he presented his first happening: 18 Happenings in 6 Parts. This piece, a complex choreography where daily activities are interspersed with artistic actions, marks the starting point for the exhibition that the Fundació Antoni Tàpies dedicates to his work and helps us understand not only his artistic development but also the historical context in which it occurred.

Among the themes that Kaprow explored in his works, we can highlight the connection, in the 1960s, with the American feminist movement, which we find reflected in pieces like Birds and Household, both from 1964, or his interest in collaborative practices and the possibility of creating working networks, such as in Self-Service (1966), or Fluids (1967), where the material used, ice, refers to the ability of transformation not only of materials but also of human beings. The practical results of these pedagogical experiments, central to his work, can be found in Six Ordinary Happenings (1969). Sweet Wall, a work from 1970, brings us to his most political practice, closely connected with the development of the Fluxus movement in Europe.

The works mentioned above will take place successively throughout the exhibition, being recreated by artists and groups from the instructions of Kaprow and following the rules that he himself defined for the future recreation of his happenings: site-specificity, respect for the place and context; impermanence, happenings are short term actions; and ‘doubt in art’, always question the actions that are performed. For Allan Kaprow, reinvention is the only way to keep art connected with the present.

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