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Suzanne Lacy

Suzanne Lacy, Maps, 1971. Performance view, Los Angeles.

The case can be made that Allan Kaprow was an important influence on public art. But you’ll never get there if you ignore his influence on ’70s feminist performance (as does, for example, the ambitious but flawed exhibition on Los Angeles currently at the Centre Pompidou). In the time’s messy and interrelated worlds of Conceptual, performance, feminist, Marxist, and community-based art, Allan went beyond simple issues of equity to set the stage for a populist inquiry into the possibilities and limitations of art made in public.

When I was Allan’s student at CalArts during the ’70s, women students were drawn to the history and practices of what he termed “lifelike” art, where artmaking was a function of a reflective life, not a skill set. As he described it at a symposium on public art in 1991, artists from the late ’50s and ’60s “appropriated the real environment and not the studio,

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