Celebrating Carolee Schneemann (1939-2019)
We honor the legacy of an artist who pushed boundaries and influenced future generations.
The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) is saddened by the passing of Carolee Schneemann (Fellow in Performance/Multidisciplinary ’87, Hall of Fame ’18), whose pioneering investigations into subjectivity, the social construction of the female body, and the cultural biases of art history have cemented her status as one of the most influential artists of the second part of the 20th century. Schneemann recognized her influence in a 2014 interview with The Guardian, saying that her work “became a bridge that had to be crossed by young feminists working with their bodies.”
In his review of the MoMA PS1 retrospective exhibition Carolee Schneemann: Kinetic Painting, New York Times Art Critic Holland Cotter praised Schneemann not only for having star quality and for majorly shaping art history but for being “one of the most generous artists around: generous with her presence, her thinking, her formal and political risk-taking, and her embrace of embracing itself—across genres, genders, and species.”
In addition to MoMA PS1, Schneemann’s painting, photography, performance, and installation work has been exhibited at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Whitney Museum of American Art; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Her work has been screened as part of film and video retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art; National Film Theatre, London; and San Francisco Cinematheque. She taught at many institutions including New York University, California Institute of the Arts, Bard College, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Smith College. In 2017, she was recognized with a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale.
Schneemann also published widely, authoring books including More than Meat Joy: Complete Performance Works and Selected Writings (McPherson & Co, 1979); Correspondence Course: An Epistolary History of Carolee Schneemann and Her Circle, edited by Kristine Stiles (Duke University Press Books, 2010); and Carolee Schneemann: Uncollected Texts (Primary Information, 2018).
In a 2017 interview with Pipilotti Rist, Schneemann was asked about the best advice she had ever received or given. “I guess my best advice is this: Be stubborn and persist, and trust yourself on what you love. You have to trust what you love,” she answered.
Image: Carolee Schneemann at NYFA’s 2018 Hall of Fame Benefit, Image Credit: Jay Brady Photography