Artist biography

Dennis Oppenheim born 1938

American pioneer of Land art and Body art, born in Mason City, Washington. Studied at California College of Arts and Crafts, and 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. Documented his works with photographs, maps, etc.; also from 1969 with films and videos. Lives in New York.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.576