Since the beginning of her career in Belgrade during the early 1970s, Marina Abramoviç has pioneered the use of Performance as a visual art form. The body has always been both her subject and medium. Exploring the physical and mental limits of her being, she has withstood pain, exhaustion, and danger in the quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. This particular blend of epic struggle and self-inflicted violence, was borne out of the contradictions of her childhood: both parents were high-ranking officials in the Socialist government, while her grandmother, with whom she had lived, was devout Serbian Orthodox. Though personal in origin, the explosive force of Abramoviç’s art spoke to a generation in Yugoslavia undergoing the tightening control of Communist rule.

The tensions between abandonment and control lay at the heart of her series of performances known as Rhythms (1973–74). In Rhythm 5, Abramoviç lay down inside the blazing frame of a wooden star. With her oxygen supply depleted by the fire, she lost consciousness and had to be rescued by concerned onlookers. In Rhythm 10, she plunged a knife between the spread fingers of one hand, stopping only after she had cut herself 20 times. Having made an audio recording of the action, she then played back the sound while repeating the movements—this time trying to coordinate the new gashes with the old. Using her dialogue with an audience as a source of energy, Abramoviç created ritualistic performance pieces that were cathartic and liberating. In Rhythm O, she invited her audience to do whatever they wanted to her using any of the 72 items she provided: pen, scissors, chains, axe, loaded pistol, and others. This essay in submission was played out to chilling conclusions—the performance ceased when audience members grew too aggressive. Truly ephemeral, Abramoviç’s earliest performances were documented only by crude black-and-white photographs and descriptive texts, which she published as an edition years later—choosing the most iconic images to represent the essence of her actions. Since 1976 she has utilized video to capture the temporal nature of her art. Cleaning the Mirror #I is composed of five stacked monitors playing videos of a haunting performance in which Abramoviç scrubs a grime-covered human skeleton on her lap. Rich with metaphor, this 3-hour action recalls, among other things, Tibetan death rites that prepare disciples to become one with their own mortality.

See More Lots FOR FREE
at Blouin Art Sales Index

LOT SOLD (1999 - 2009)






TOTAL SALES (1999 - 2009)


 The great China wall walk by Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovic

The great China wall walk

Los Angeles Modern Auctions, Van Nuys

October 11, 2015

$5,625  USD

 Untitled (White Robe I and II) by Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovic

Untitled (White Robe I and II)

Sotheby's, New York

October 7, 2015


 Marina Abramovi?: The Biography by Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovi?: The Biography

Auctionata, Berlin

September 28, 2015


 The Current by Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovic

The Current

Christie's, New York

July 28, 2015


 Ecstasy III by Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovic

Ecstasy III

Blomqvist, Oslo

June 15, 2015


 Untitled (rubdown) by Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovic

Untitled (rubdown)

Quittenbaum, Munich

June 11, 2015

$675  USD

 Hands as energy receivers by Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovic

Hands as energy receivers

Blomqvist, Oslo

May 31, 2015

$3,346  USD

 Art must be Beautiful, Artist must be Beautiful by Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovic

Art must be Beautiful, Artist must be Beautiful

Christie's, New York

May 12, 2015

$365,000  USD

 The Great Wall by Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovic

The Great Wall

Christie's, Amsterdam

April 14, 2015

$15,943  USD


Sotheby’s Puts Spotlight on Nudes in London Selling Exhibition

By Mark Beech | November 18, 2015

Sotheby’s has chosen the theme of the naked human body for a new exhibition.It is an obvious leitmotif for a selling show of name artists, when so many have worked with nude figurature throughout...

Marina Abramović Sued by Ex, “Percent for Art” Vetoed by MA Governor, and More

By Noelle Bodick | November 12, 2015

— Marina Abramović Sued by Former Collaborator and Lover: Performance artist Marina Abramović is being sued by her once collaborator and lover, the German artist known...

Video: Marina Abramovic on Her Sydney Residency Project

By Nicholas Forrest | July 1, 2015

“Marina Abramović: In Residence” at Pier 2/3 in Walsh Bay, Sydney is a groundbreaking two-part project that represents the latest developments in world-renowned Serbian performance artist Marina...

5 Exhibitions to See This Week in Berlin

By BLOUIN ARTINFO Germany | June 17, 2015

KW Institute for Contemporary Art: Fire and Forget. On Violence The new exhibition at Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art is definitely a must-see. Its title “Fire and Forget” is borrowed...

“My Body Is the Event”: Mumok Revisits Viennese Actionism

By Lisa Contag | March 9, 2015

Blood, feces, nudity and dead animals were among the elements frequently used by the members of Viennese Actionism, perhaps the most violent avant-garde art movement of the 1960s and...

Marina Abramovic Explains Landmark Australia Project

By Nicholas Forrest | February 19, 2015

World renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic will present two major projects in Australia later this year thanks to a collaboration between two of the country’s leading private arts...

    View More

Marina Abramovic’s Australian Projects

By Nicholas Forrest | June 29, 2015

Sean Kelly Hosts Marina Abramović and Jose Dávila

By Benjamin Park | October 24, 2014