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Tina Girouard. Photo: Anat Ebgi Gallery.

Tina Girouard (1946–2020)

American artist Tina Girouard, whose multimedia conceptual practice was infused with symbolism, narrative, and strains of post-Minimalism and Pattern and Decoration, died on Tuesday at her home in Cecilia, Louisiana. She was seventy-three years old. A pivotal figure in the 1970s SoHo art scene and its alternative spaces—such as 112 Greene Street and the restaurant FOOD—Girouard’s work included performances such as Pinwheel, 1977, in which the artist acted as both director and performer. That nearly hour-long piece, featuring three other collaborators, was set in a stage with hanging, silk-patterned fabrics, and unfolded as each player ritually performed their personae (animal, vegetable, mineral, and other). Originally presented alongside work by Lynda Benglis, Richard Landry, Robert Rauschenberg, and Keith Sonnier at the New Orleans Museum of Art’s 1977 exhibition “Five From Louisiana,” the work was restaged at Art Basel Miami Beach last year.

Girouard was born in 1946 in DeQuincy, Louisiana. After studying at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, she moved to New York in the late 1960s, where she shared a loft in Chinatown with Dickie Landry and the Philip Glass Ensemble. There, she helped nurture a downtown ethos of collaboration. From 1971 to 1974, together with artists Gordon Matta-Clark and Carol Goodden, she ran FOOD, a conceptual performance and artwork offering her milieu both sustenance and a gathering place in SoHo. She also collaborated with artists Laurie Anderson, Deborah Hay, Terry Riley, Richard Serra, and Lawrence Weiner, among others, and was a founding participant of spaces such as the Anarchitecture Group, Clocktower Gallery, Creative Time, the Fabric Workshop, Holly Solomon Gallery, and PS1.

“It’s a live performance and I use the same kind of form—there are repeated objects, and the difference here is that people are performing them into place, a kind of ritual placement,” Girouard said in a 1982 interview. “I believe one's life is made up of many parts, and that you get your world view or philosophy by adding up these parts.”

Girouard returned to Louisiana in 1979. In 1983, she was the subject of a midcareer retrospective at the Museo Rufino Tamayo in Mexico City, and her work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale (1980); the Paris Biennale (1977); and Documenta, Kassel (1972 and 1977). Her work is held in the collections of the Hessel Museum of Art, the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College; the Institute of Contemporary Art, the University of Pennsylvania; the Ludwig Forum für International Kunst; the Museo Rufino Tamayo; and the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst. “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985,” curated by Anna Katz and currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, features her work and will travel to the Hessel Museum of Art in June.

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