PRINT January 2015


the Halprin workshops

Group portrait after Experiments in Environment workshop, Kentfield, CA, 1968. Photo: Paul Ryan. Lawrence Halprin Collection, Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania.

IN 1966, David Antin declared that environment was “a pretty dead word.” The critic was being more than a little ironic, yet his pronouncement diagnosed a real anxiety. For artists and critics across the ideological spectrum, environment had become a difficult—and destabilizing—term. For some, it invited a departure from ideals of flatness, threatening the art object’s increasingly precarious autonomy. For others, including those sympathetic to art’s expanded field, environment had a worrying association with movement, a disruption of the one-to-one encounter between viewer and static image. For still others, however, the allure of the word held firm. A case in point is the series of two- to four-week workshops that were organized by dancer Anna Halprin, and her husband, architect Lawrence Halprin, in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Occurring across three California

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