Carolee Schneemann's classic, erotic, transgressive work from the '60s takes center stage in Miami
It’s been half a century since Carolee Schneemann began the series of daring, erotic, transgressive works that played off her own image as a beauty, the role of the female nude in art history, and the scrappy objects her friends and colleagues were making to push at the boundaries of art and life.
The stand includes various objects the artist made in her studio, an old furrier’s shop off West 29th Street, in the early ’60s. There’s Fur Wheel (1962), a kinetic wall object with an affectionate nod to that Surrealist classic, Meret Oppenheim’s fur-lined teacup.
In the center of the booth is the 1963 piece Untitled (Four Fur Cutting Boards), a large construction, in the form of a moving, folding screen, that became the backdrop to Schneemann’s early and iconic experiments using her body as both canvas and material. Here she performed her famous photographic series, Eye Body (Thirty Six Transformative Actions), which are also on view.
“I wanted my actual body to be combined with the work as an integral material– a further dimension of the construction,” she wrote “… I am both image maker and image. The body may remain erotic, sexual, desired, desiring, but it is as well votive: marked, written over in a text of stroke and gesture discovered by my creative female will.”
The artist is also a strong presence at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, which opened this week in its new building. Earlier this year, photos from Eye Body were among the works in a gift of some 300 works from local collectors Dennis and Debra Scholl. And the “Sources of the Self” section of “Americana,” one of the opening exhibitions, includes documentation of Interior Scroll, the influential 1975 performance in which Schneemann ritualistically stood naked on a table, painted her body with mud, and slowly extracted a paper scroll from her vagina while reading from it.
The artist was on hand during the opening celebrations at the fair, where she agreeably recreated a pose from her landmark “Eye Body” series.