Allan Kaprow  (American, 1927-2006) 

Allan Kaprow (American, 1927–2006) was a performance artist and academic instructor known for his invention of the term Happening. He was born in Atlantic City, NJ, but moved to Tuscon, AZ for boarding school from 1933 to 1942. After showing an interest in drawing, Kaprow moved back to New York City where he began his education in the arts at the High School of Music and Art (now known as LaGuardia Arts). Kaprow received a BA at New York University in 1949 and an MA in Art History at Columbia University, where he studied Medieval and Modern Art under renowned art historian Meyer Schapiro. While in school, he also trained in painting under Hans Hofmann (German, 1880–1966) at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts. After graduating from Columbia in 1952, Kaprow co-founded Hansa Gallery, where he held his first solo show a year later. He was also the co-founder of Reuben Gallery and co-director of Judson Gallery, both in New York City. In the 1960s, these galleries became the sites for Kaprow’s Happenings and other hybrid art genres that began populating the art world. Before delving into a conceptual and philosophical approach to art, he created what he called “action collages,” which were inspired by Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–1956) and Abstract Expressionism. During this time, Kaprow became more interested in the act and theatricality of painting and creating. He began to produce sculptural installations he called Environments, which were assemblages of various sensory stimulants like light and sound; he ceased production after 1965.

For most of his career, Kaprow worked mainly on Happenings, which he documented in photographic publications. Happenings were an extension of Environments; they started out as ritualistic performances and by 1968 became more of an activity that all spectators could participate in. A Service for the Dead II (1962) is a good example of Kaprow’s early ritualistic Happenings, which was given a specific setting and script to follow. His later Happenings were spontaneous events like The Perfect Bed (1986); participants had to find their favorite bed and take it to an outdoor location. This particular Happening took place in various sites throughout Germany. Apart from his work as a performance artist, Kaprow also studied musical composition under John Cage, and composed music for the Eileen Passloff Dance Company in 1958. He also spent a great deal of time teaching and lecturing at various institutes including Rutgers University, the Pratt Institute, State University of New York at Stoney Brook, the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, and University of California in San Diego. In 1979, Kaprow received the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and the National Endowment for the Arts in both 1974 and 1979. His written works include his thesis Piet Mondrian: A Study of Seeing (1952), Assemblage, Environments, and Happenings (1966), and Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life (1993).

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Artworks for sale (8)

Allan Kaprow, Untitled from the portfolio: The Readymade Boomerang


Allan Kaprow
Untitled from the portfolio: The Readymade Boomerang

Carl Solway Gallery
Allan Kaprow, “Tree” (Happening Poster)


Allan Kaprow
“Tree” (Happening Poster)

Sragow Gallery
Allan Kaprow, Untitled Nude


Allan Kaprow
Untitled Nude
circa 1950

F.L. Braswell Fine Art
Allan Kaprow, Sawdust


Allan Kaprow

Galerie Inge Baecker
Allan Kaprow, Aktstudie II


Allan Kaprow
Aktstudie II

Galerie Inge Baecker
Allan Kaprow, Pose (2) and (3)


Allan Kaprow
Pose (2) and (3)

Galerie Inge Baecker
Allan Kaprow, Pose (1)


Allan Kaprow
Pose (1)

Galerie Inge Baecker
Allan Kaprow, Calling


Allan Kaprow

Sragow Gallery
Past auction results (27)  View All
Allan Kaprow, Repair


Allan Kaprow
Repair, 1987
right show from Vibram, size 8 1/2, with band aids in a perspex box


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Allan Kaprow, Ohne Titel (2 works)


Allan Kaprow
Ohne Titel (2 works), 1995
watercolor on paper


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Allan Kaprow, Ohne Titel (2 works)


Allan Kaprow
Ohne Titel (2 works), 1995
watercolor on paper


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1947 - 1948   Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts, New York. Painting.
1945 - 1949   New York University, New York. BA in Philosophy and Art History.
1949 - 1950   New York University. Credit toward MA in Philosophy.
1950 - 1952   Columbia University, New York. MA in Art History.
1957 - 1952   New School for Social Research, New York. Music Composition with John Cage.
  Selected Solo Exhibitions:
  2006, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
  2006, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany
  2005, Allan Kaprow, Hauser & Wirth Züruch, Switzerland
  2002, Happening und Fluxus der 60er und 70er Jahre, Galerie Inge Baecker, Cologne
  1997, Allan Kaprow: Activity-Fotos aus den 60ern und 70ern, Galerie Inge Baecker, Cologne
  1997, Just Doing, Caterina Gualco Gallery, Genoa, Italy
  1997, Just Doing, Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como, Italy
  1997, Allan Kaprow: Installation, Biblioteca Comunale, Como, Italy
  1997, Photo-Text: Plans of Happenings 1960s–1970s, Archivio Conz, Verona
  1997, Allan Kaprow, Hyde Gallery, Grossmont College, El Cajon, California
  Selected Group Exhibitions
  2005, Art Unlimited, Basel, Switzerland
  2005, Covering the Real: Art and the Press Picture from Warhol to Tillmans, Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  2005, Generations of Art – 10 Years at FAR, Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como, Italy
  2005, Recent Acquisitions from the Athenaeum’s Artist’s Books and Artworks Collection, Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, La Jolla, California
  2005, Marking Time, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions Gallery (LACE), California
  2005, Yoko Ono: Horizontal Memories, Astrup Fearnely Museum for Modern Art, Oslow, Norway
  2004, Attraversare Genova: Percorsi e linguaggi internazionali del contemporaneo. Anni ‘60–’70, Museo d’arte contemporanea di Villa Croce
  2004, Life as Art: Dedicated to Allan Kaprow, Vlepo Gallery, Staten Island, New York
  2004, Topographies, San Francisco Art Institute, California. Traveled to Pasadena Museum of California Art, California
  2004, Topographies, San Francisco Art Institute, California
  2004, That bodies speak has been known for a long time, Generali Foundation, Vienna, Austria
  2003, Intermedia: The Dick Higgins Collection at U.M.B.C, Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland
  2003, Work Ethic, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland. Traveled to Des Moines Art Center, Iowa and Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio
  2003, European Art Expo, Dusseldorf, Germany
  2003, A Happening Place, The Gershman Y, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  2003, Collection. Nouvelle presentation, Musée d’Art Contemporain Lyons, France
  2003, Critical Mass: Happenings, Fluxus, Performance, Intermedia and Rutgers University 1958–1972, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts. Traveled to Mason Gross Art Galleries, New Brunswick, New Jersey