Allan Kaprow

John Gibson Gallery

“Once, the task of the artist was to make good art; now it is to avoid making art of any kind,” wrote Allan Kaprow in a 1966 manifesto, formulating a paradox that has come to pervade his entire oeuvre. The Happenings and Environments through which he made his name in the ’50s and ’60s all attempted to merge art and life, to bring the audience inside the work instead of leaving it standing stupidly around in front of it. Kaprow has never ceased to make works or pen position papers (such as “The Education of the Un-Artist: Part II,” 1972, and “Art Which Can’t Be Art,” 1986) that decry this separation of art and life—all of which made encountering the “scores” (photos and texts) for the ’70s Happenings exhibited in his most recent show somewhat problematic: we were back in front rather than inside, reading the sheet music rather than playing in the orchestra.

If by the late ’60s the Happening

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