Carolee Schneemann (b. 1939, Fox Chase, Pennsylvania - d.2019, New Paltz, NY, USA) received a BA from Bard College, NY and an MFA from the University of Illinois. She held an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts and the Maine College of Art. In 2017, Schneemann was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 57th Venice Biennale.
Schneemann began as a painter during the 1950s before moving to New York with her then partner, the composer James Tenney, in 1960. Here, they engaged and collaborated with the growing avant-garde movement and community of artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers, from contemporaries such as Claes Oldenberg, Jim Dine and Robert Whitman to older, more established figures including Stan Brakhage, Maya Deren and Carl Ruggles. Within this experimental scene, Schneemann began to experiment with new media and forms of art-making, from performance to film, and co-founded and choreographed for the groundbreaking Judson Dance Theater. Schneemann once said that "everything that I have developed has to do with extending visual principles off the canvas." Her work, from painting-constructions and assemblages to kinetic multimedia installations, transcended the boundaries of media and discipline.
Meat Joy (performed in Paris, London and New York in 1964) marked a milestone for the artist, producing a platform from which Schneemann challenged perceptions within art. Other celebrated pieces include self-shot erotic film, Fuses (1965), and the provocative performance Interior Scroll (1975, 1977). Through these works, which incorporated her physical body and subjective experience, Schneemann reshaped discourse on gender, sexuality and the body, insisting on her status as both image and image-maker. Collapsing the personal and the political, Schneemann also engaged significantly with international politics, issues of censorship, and images of violence, as in the anti-Vietnam War film Viet-Flakes (1965). Other seminal works include Vulva's Morphia (1995), Ask the Goddess (1993-97), and Flange 6prm (2013). A feature length film on Schneemann's work and history entitled Breaking the Frame by Marielle Nitoslawska was completed in 2012.
In September 2022, Body Politics - the first major survey of Schneemann's work in the UK opened at The Barbican Centre. Schneemann's extensive retrospective Kinetic Painting, curated by Sabine Breitwiser, opened at Museum Der Moderne in Salzburg (2015) before travelling to the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main, Germany and MoMA PS1, New York in 2017. A major monograph, Carolee Schneemann: Unforgivable, was published by Black Dog in December 2015. Schneemann's first solo exhibition in London, UK, Water Light/Water Needle, took place in 2014 at Hales Gallery.
Schneemann's work has also been exhibited worldwide at institutions including Tate Modern, UK; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, CA; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; The Reina Sophia Museum, Madrid, Spain; the Haus der Kunst, Germany; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, UK; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Ireland; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. In 1997, a retrospective of her work entitled Carolee Schneemann, 'Up To And Including Her Limits' was held at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.
Schneemann's work is included in many important collections including The Whitney Museum of Art, NY; Tate, London, UK; Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Franklin Furnace, NY; Hamburger Bahnhof Museum, Berlin, Germany; Hirschhorn Museum, Washington D.C, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, UK; Institute of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, CA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY; Perez Art Museum, Miami, FL; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Reyjavik Art Museum, Reyjavik, Iceland; and Yale University Art Gallery, CT.