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October 3rd, 1997
Video Program Explores Artistic Use Of The Body

In the late 1940s, American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) placed his canvases on the floor so that he could "feel more a part of the painting" as he dripped and splattered with paint-dipped sticks. His example, captured in a famous series of photographs and films by Hans Namuth, has inspired generations of artists to find ways to place themselves more directly in their work. In 1960, when French conceptual artist Yves Klein (1928-1962) rolled his models in blue paint and pressed their bodies onto canvas, he initiating a more literal approach to using the body as a tool for making art. For contemporary artists, particularly those involved with video and performance, Pollock's and Klein's working methods have proven to be especially fertile ground. This influence is explored in The Body: Expression/Impression, an exhibition on view in the Video Gallery of the Philadelphia Museum of Art from September 9 through November 30, 1997.

Starting points in this exploration are provided by Namuth's famous 1951 film of Pollock and an excerpt from the 1961 film Mondo Cane showing Klein making his Anthropometry paintings. Later works, drawn from the 1970s to the present, extend the possibilities suggested by these two early examples. Some have responded to Pollock's highly theatrical dance-like engagement as he encircled his canvases throwing down paint. Others take the vision of the masculine, heroicized action painter as a point of departure for critique or emulation. Klein's similarly unusual and spectacular performances that created the Anthropometry paintings have also inspired a range of responses for contemporary artists exploring issues of the body, gender and creativity.

Included in the program are videos of Janine Antoni performing Loving Care in which she mops the gallery floor with her dye-soaked hair, Karen Finley's Nursing Tape, Ron Athey's Human Printing Press segment from his Four Scenes in a Harsh Life, Damien Hirst creating one of his "spin paintings" by pouring paint onto a rotating wheel, a performance by Philadelphian Gabriel Martinez, works by Cheryl Donegan, and early pieces by Ana Mendieta, Dennis Oppenheim, Carolee Schneemann, Skip Arnold, and Paul McCarthy.

Programming in the Video Gallery is made possible by the generous support of the Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 227,000 works of art and more than 200 galleries presenting painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, decorative arts, textiles, and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Its facilities include its landmark Main Building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Perelman Building, located nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Rodin Museum on the 2200 block of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and two 18th-century houses in Fairmount Park, Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove. The Museum offers a wide variety of activities for public audiences, including special exhibitions, programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.

For additional information, contact the Marketing and Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at (215) 684-7860. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100, or visit the Museum's website at www.philamuseum.org.

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