Yoko Ono, performing Cut Piece at the Carnegie Hall, New York, 1965, Fluxus
Moving forward to the Fluxus movement which consisted of performative acts using everyday materials. Women started to engage in political issues at the time and became what is now known as proto feminists. Ono was a Japanese woman who came to New York City and later joined Fluxus. In her staged performance Cut Piece, she had herself sit on stage still and invited male audiences to go up and cut away her clothing with a pair of scissors. Although her performance was sexually charged, Ono’s intention was to poke at political issues through her work, “simply talking about Vietnam or the crisis in Labor movements doesn’t guarantee progress—we have to find new ways of communicating that impact the world directly.”1 Her performance became nonviolent resistance in response to Vietnam Labor crisis. This interactive performance is still seen in modern day art presentations.
Andy Warhol, Marilyn Diptych, 1962, acrylic on canvas, Pop Art
Warhol’s works represented a society of serial production and consumption in his use of repetitions. Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych represented Pop Art with its reference to an icon of pop culture, Marilyn Monroe. Shortly after Monroe’s death in 1962, Warhol produced his first silk-screen painting with the assembly-line technique. The image he used was a publicity photography of Marilyn Monroe from a film that was recognizable to the mass public. The two sides of diptych were distinctly different in the use of colors, one side was brightly colored while the other appeared to be in black and white representing the celebrity’s life and death. Although Warhol was fascinated with the machine, the repetition of images in his works did not simply imply his obsession with a particular subject matter. In Marilyn Diptych, the series of replicated images of Marilyn Monroe resulted in a loss of emotional response to the death of a great star. On the other hand, the repetition could also be reemphasizing the tragic as well as Monroe’s glorious fame. In creating Marilyn Diptych where the subject matter appeared to be women, the artist’s intention was no longer restrained by the beauty of female. The screen prints were not a mere celebration of the celebrity’s iconic status but rather poking at the increasing role of mass media in our modern life.2
1 Kurczynski, Karen. “Postwar Europe and the US”, Art History 324.
2 Paul Wood. “Warhol’s ‘Factory’: painting and the mass-cultural spectator”. Varieties of Modernism (Yale University Press, Open University, 2004), 348-356.