Contemporary Art, 1960s–present

Conceptual Art and Other Modern Art Movements

What is performance art?

Performance art is slightly more complicated than its name might suggest. Performance art is indeed art that blends music, theatrical performance, and visual art, rather than a single painting or sculpture. But, the form itself, which became more popular in the 1960s, also blurs the line between art and artist, and frequently produces an uncomfortable reaction amongst viewers. For example, the artists Gilbert and George sing for over eight hours in their performance, The Singing Sculpture (1969). In a performance piece titled How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (1968), the often provocative artist Joseph Beuys holds a dead hare in his arms while appearing to whisper to it. A good example of the way in which both art and artist merge is Yoko Ono’s 1964 performance, Cut Piece, in which audience participants are invited to cut off pieces of Ono’s clothing until none remain. This performance is also categorized as an example of Fluxus art.


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