Dennis Oppenheim, American (1938 - 2011)
American pioneer of Land art
and Body art, born in Mason City, Washington. Studied at California
College of Arts and Crafts, and He moved to New York in 1966 where he first taught nursery school and then high school art while working toward his first one-person exhibition in New York, held in 1968 when he was 30 years old. Oppenheim's early work tended to focus on human and animal performances. In the early 1970s, he was in the vanguard of artists using film and video in relation to performance. In a series of works produced between 1970 and 1974, Oppenheim used his own body as a site to challenge the self: he explored the boundaries of personal risk, transformation, and communication.
Stanford University. Impressed by Kienholz, but reacted against
his work c.1965. After a visit to New York 1966-7, decided to
abandon making objects. Settled in New York in 1967. From mid
1967 to 1969,
concerned with increasingly large-scale earth-orientated projects,
including the inscribing or transplanting of lines or material
associated with one site onto a second site strikingly different
from it, e.g. the tracing in snow on either side of the St John
River, the frontier between Canada and the USA, of concentric
circles corresponding to the annular rings of
a tree. First one-man exhibition in New York, of Ground Systems,
at the John Gibson Gallery 1968. Began in 1969 to use his own
body as material by subjecting it to wounds, pressures, sunburn
etc., sometimes as an investigation of biological processes.
1981 opened a new chapter, with machine pieces, complex constructions which he used to create a metaphor for the artistic process.
By the mid-eighties his sculpture was based on the transformation of everyday objects.
Since the mid-ninties his work has become larger in scale and permanent, fusing sculpture and architecture.He was included in both the Venice Biennale and the Johannesburg Biennale in 1997. He lived and worked in New York City. Oppenheim died of liver cancer on January 22, 2011.