Those who have tried to locate any information at all about performance-oriented art from before the ‘70s and ‘80s (when the genre finally started to enjoy increased coverage in such publications as High Performance, Artforum, Flash Art), will truly appreciate the value of this handy and compact little volume. The first of the book’s three sections focuses on the “formative years, from Marinetti’s 1909 Futurist stage works to John Cage’s ‘Untitled Event’ of 1952. Section Two covers Action Art’s most fertile period: from the early ‘50s Gutai Group actions, to late ‘50s and early ‘60s Environments and Happenings, to the Fluxus and event art of the early and mid-’60s, to the hideous blood orgies of the Viennese Actionists, and including the Dutch Provos, the Situationist International, and the hijinks of the Guerrilla Art Action Group. The final section is devoted to biographical and critical studies of over 115 Action artists and artists’ groups. All this is followed by five appendixes filled with all sorts of useful information and obsessive cross-referencing, and, finally, four indexes—by artist, subject, title and author. A revelation for those who think performance art was invented by Laurie Anderson, Karen Finley or the Kipper Kids.
Hardback: 360 pages