Original color lithograph, archivally matted and framed, 22 12 x 28 1/2 inches
American performance artist, theoretician, and instructor who invented the name “Happenings” for his performances and who helped define the genre’s characteristics.
Kaprow studied in New York City at the High School of Music & Art (now LaGuardia Arts; 1943–45) and New York University (B.A., 1949) and also trained in painting at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art (1947–48). In 1952 he was awarded an M.A. from Columbia University, where he had studied medieval and modern art under the influential art historian and critic Meyer Schapiro. Kaprow also attended a class in composition taught by the avant-garde composer John Cage at the New School for Social Research (1957–59). There Kaprow met like-minded fellow students George Brecht, Dick Higgins, Al Hansen, and others. During this period, Kaprow abandoned traditional arts and gravitated to the more theoretical and philosophical questions surrounding the making of art. He was active as a producer and promoter of live and experimental art, cofounding the Hansa Gallery in 1952 and the Reuben Gallery in 1959 and codirecting the Judson Gallery; each of these galleries was a primary venue for the many new hybrid art genres of the early 1960s. These included Happenings (which, according to Higgins, Kaprow explained by saying, “I didn’t know what to call it, and my piece was just supposed to happen naturally”) and Environments (in which the artist manipulated controlled spaces so that the spectator experienced a variety of sensory stimulants).
For Kaprow, the Happening was an inevitable extension of his own vigorous and theatrical abstract painting—inspired by the reigning Abstract Expressionists (notably Jackson Pollock)—first into the space of the audience as environment and then into live performance. He quickly abandoned the tradition of a passive audience in favour of active participation by all spectators. Some of his most memorable Happenings included the construction (and later destruction) near the Berlin Wall of a wall of bread cemented with jelly and the creation in southern California of a parcel of houses built out of ice. Kaprow documented many of his performances in photographic publications. Though Kaprow’s events were highly scripted, Happenings later were seen as spontaneous incidents, and he came to regret that his name was associated with these later events.
“1 Cent Life” began as a simple idea by artist Walasse Ting in 1962, developed during talks he had with his friend the artist Sam Francis. Ting wanted to combine international artists and different styles into a single book, linking them together in one collective spirit alongside his own art and poetry.
“1 Cent Life” was a landmark publication from 1964, and is now a collectible book based on the impressive artwork it contains. It was a revolutionary tract for a collective aesthetic; an assembled vision of Pop and European abstraction, featuring flat hard-edged and splatter painting; biomorphic art, splashing florescent colors and monochromes all meeting up in a single loud and dynamic package. “1 Cent Life” is among the most beautifully conceived and artistic book-works of the 1960s, unlike anything published before or after. With large empty spaces next to areas of maximum color saturation and layered density, “1 Cent Life” was an inspirational book of 1960s design and spirit – a polyglot enterprise –and certainly Ting’s best known work.
“1 Cent Life” is a large elephant-folio unbound book containing 62 lithographs made by 28 European and American artists with 62 letterpress poems by Walasse Ting and set in multi-colored inks. The lithography was realized and printed in Paris by Maurice Beaudet and the typography carried out in handset letterpress by George Girard. The book was published by E. W. Kornfeld, Bern, Switzerland in 1964, and edited by artist Sam Francis.
Ting’s poems are jarring and mystical, sometimes epic and soaring, screamed out in all-capitalized letters or whispered in lower-case, creating a language lost in limbo, choked off from reality, lacking standard grammar and punctuation, soaked with impulsive wit and exoticism – a language of a complete new consciousness – a tongue that is bound with the earth and sky, inflamed and out of sync with technology and the world. Ting is difficult but always true to himself.
“1 Cent Life” was dedicated to the maverick Detroit-based contemporary art collector Florence Barron, most famously known as the woman who in 1963 commissioned Andy Warhol to produce his first self-portraits. It is speculated that Florence Barron put up the funds necessary to print the edition, as one of the main themes of her collection was her love of books and words and their relationship to contemporary art, advertising media and culture. Florence may have just been close friends with Ting, an artist she supported and promoted, among her friends and contacts.
In addition to the original printing of 1900 unsigned copies, there was a numbered portfolio edition of 100 signed copies in a pink cloth-covered solander box. There are 62 original lithographs in colors by; Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Enrico Baj, Alan Davie, Jim Dine, Oyvind Fahlstrom, Sam Francis, Robert Indiana, Alfred Jensen, Asgar Jorn, Allan Kaprow, Alfred Leslie, Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Mitchell, Kiki O.K., Claes Oldenburg, Mel Ramos, Robert Rauschenberg, Reinhold, J.P. Riopelle, James Rosenquist, Antonio Saura, Kimber Smith, K.R.H. Sonderberg, Walasse Ting, Bram Van Velde, Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann.
The chosen title; “1 Cent Life” is ambiguous and unclear. His respect for the low and neglected is evident throughout the book, where painting, women and food are at the core of Ting’s life and there is little need for monetary considerations. Prostitutes, bums, movie stars, the Pope and J.F.K. are given equal billing in the poems.
There is no hierarchy or order to “1 Cent Life”, no artist is featured and all pages are loose and removable. The title could refer to “one sent life” – a nod to the creator (artistic or spiritual) as in the unity of the collection of artists contained within. Ting’s ideas and canvas were always in the now, a reflection of the eternity present in everything.