Occupation: Performance Art, Body Art
Movement: Conceptual Art
The Serbian artist Marina Abramovic is considered one of the pioneers in the field of Performance Art. Her work explores the corporeal bounds of the human body.
“Rhythm 0,” 1974
“Rest Energy,” 1980
“Balkan Baroque,” 1997
“The House with the Ocean View,” 2002
“The Artist is Present,” 2010
Early Life and Education
Born to parents who were active as Yugoslav supporters during World War II, Marina Abramovic grew up in Belgrade. Her father was a war hero, and her mother Danica too served in the army. Danica was to later become the Director of a museum in the city.
Marina and her mother were left by her father in 1964. Soon after, her mother took complete control of her life. She was not allowed to be outside after 10 at night, and her actions and movements were strictly controlled. Meanwhile, she enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in 1965, graduating five years later. She then joined the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, and graduated two years later in 1972. She had marrried Nesa Paripovic in 1971, but the couple seperated five years later.
Beginnings in Art
Abramovic began teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Novi Sad in 1973, the same time she began practicing as an artist. She quit working there in 1975, and made her way to Amsterdam the following year, initially for a performance, and finding the city suited her, decided to to settle there.
Her first major performance was in Edinburgh in 1973, entitled “Rhythm 10,” which involved a risky game of Russian Roulette with knives and her fingers where she often ended up injuring herself. She followed this up with “Rhythm 5” the following year, where she threw herself into a fire, losing conciousness from a lack of oxygen. A doctor had to be called in to revive her after.
Move to Amsterdam
Abramovic settled in Amsterdam in 1975, and the following year met the artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen, better known as Ulay. The two began performing together in the next few years, and in 1977 they performed the show “Impoderabilia,” in which the two stood face to face, naked, and asked the audience to squeeze between them. Another of their well-known performances was “Nightsea Crossing,” which they began performing in 1981, and continued to do so for the next six years. The relationship began facing troubles soon after, and they decided to put an end to their partnership in 1988.
The Middle Years
Abramovic was awarded the Golden Lion at the 1997 Venice Biennale for her work “Balkan Baroque,” which was part performance and part video art. This firmly put her in the forefront of the international art scene. She produced “The House with the Ocean View” in 2002, in which she made an installation of three large cubes in a gallery in which she lived for the next three days.
Abramovic performed “Seven Easy Pieces” in 2005, in which she reexamined and reexplored the work of five artists from the 1960s and 1970s, as a part-homage and part-alteration of the original work.
A retrospective of Abramovic’s work was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2010. She performed “The Artist is Present” for the occasion, which lasted 736 hours, and was a silent piece. The audience was invited to sit opposite her, and the popstar Lady Gaga took part, which opened up the performance to an audience that would not normally have attended, including teenagers. Abramoivc collaborated with Lady Gaga in her 2013 album “Artpop.”
Abramovic is currently working on setting up the Marina Abramovic Institute in New York. She participated in a TED Talk, “An art made of trust, vulnerability and connection” in 2015.
Marina Abramovic lives between Amsterdam and New York.
1946 - Born in Belgrade
1965 - Enrolls at the Academy of Fine Arts, Belgrade
1970 - Graduates from the Academy of Fine Arts, Belgrade
1973 - Begins teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts, Novi Sad
1976 - Begins partnership with Frank Uwe Laysiepen, aka Ulay
1988 - Ends partnershiop with Ulay
1997 - Wins the Golden Lion Award, Venice Biennale
1997 - Begins teaching at the Hochschule Bildende Kunste, Braunschweig
2009 - Wins the Lorenzo il Magnifico Career Award, Florence Biennale
1974 - Gallery of Contemporary Art, Zagreb
2004 - Contemporary Art Center, New York
2008 - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
2008 - Sao Paulo Biennale
2010 - Retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
Fundacion NMAC, Cadiz
Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid
Telefonica Foundation, Madrid
Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enscehde
Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent
“Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present” by Arthur Danto and Chrissie Iles
“When Marina Abramovic Dies: A Biography” by James Westcott
“Marina Abramovic: Dream Book” by Marina Abramovic
“Art, Love, Friendship: Marina Abramovic and Ulay, Together and Apart” by Thomas McEvilley
“L’Insoutenable Marina Abramovic” by Genevieve Breerette