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Modern Art in Actions, Events, Performances Essay

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Updated: Apr 29th, 2021

Moving into action was the next step and a new realm of modern art. It received a new understanding and became interdisciplinary. The relationship between the audience and a work of art was drastically transformed from observation to involvement as for the first time the viewer was placed in the art context. It managed to encompass time, space, the performer, and the observer as pieces of one whole.

Joseph Beuys, whose work is associated with the Fluxus movement, managed to cover all possible media including sculpture, painting, drawing, and action art in various combinations. The subjects ranged from political and social to psychological issues and the material usually united the organic with the synthetic to symbolize inseparability of nature and civilization. This idea is especially evident in How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare – a performative piece uniting the artist, honey, gold, metal, felt, and music. Every item is symbolic: honey stands for life, gold – for riches, hare – for death, metal is perceived as a means of conducting spiritual energy whereas felt is associated with safety.

Bruce Nauman attempted to unite Conceptualism, Minimalism, performance, and video arts with the purpose to create a unique ironical and often absurd artistic space based on his interest in political and philosophic issues. Political performance can be found in the South American Triangle depicting a suspended chair that is being tortured. It was aimed to criticize the totalitarian regime of South Africa and South America. One of the works featuring philosophic implications is One Hundred Live and Die that consists of four columns with 100 words connected with life and death (associated with different emotions and colors).

Yoko Ono was the pioneer of Conceptual Art. Her legacy marked a new step of performance: involvement of the viewer in the process of work completion. Since she rejected the idea that art had to be an object, many of her pieces were processes: e.g. Cloud Piece suggests the audience imagine digging a hole in the ground and filling it with clouds. In Cut Piece, she invited viewers to cut pieces of her garment to address the topics of materialism, gender, and class.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Modern Art in Actions, Events, Performances." April 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/modern-art-in-actions-events-performances/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Modern Art in Actions, Events, Performances'. 29 April.

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