Artist of the Week – Allan Kaprow

Throughout his career, Allan Kaprow redefined what he believed to be art. He pushed beyond the usual and inspired a different type of thinking. He loved to incorporate objects you would not consider to be art and create something that provokes thoughts, ideas and inspiration. Kaprow used objects from our daily lives and invented something spectacular.

His slow start into the art world is arguably what pushed him to think outside the box, so to say. He began rearranging paintings and which sparked an interest. After he began to get more attention, he decided to move away from the huge art scene in New York. Kaprow began creating what he called, “happenings.” According to him, a happening was meant to be something fun such as a game.

From observing his work, it seems to me that Kaprow did not just want to have people see his art; he wanted people to participate in it. Doing so encouraged the participants to take away different ideas as opposed to the artist feeding them his own ideas. Furthermore, since his “happenings” were meant to put attention on small events, it seems way more powerful that he allowed other people to get involved in the action to appreciate it because it is one thing to see an artist do weird activities and a whole different thing to see average people like yourself get involved in these events. To him, the end result was not as important as the journey the participants had to go though to appreciate whatever the small task happened to be.

Kaprow believed that his art and therefore message to take away from it is that we are meant to be in the now. You can see examples of such happenings as the “fluids” one where people were stacking ice blocks. At the end of the event, the ice melted and therefore the only way of remembering the experience is of really being present while doing it. This shows us how important it is to focus on what is happening at the moment.

Another important point, Kaprow tried to bring up in his “happenings” is to question that time’s sociopolitical ideas and challenge people to think deeply about what is going on around them. An example is his “household” happening where women were to lick a car that has jam on it. In my opinion this “happening “ is meant to question women’s role in society at that time. It is a very creative and provocative way of demonstrating his point of view.


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