Carolee Schneemann is a pioneer in the discourse on the body, sexuality, and gender – utilizing a range of disciplines. Trained as a painter, she recognized early on that “the brush belonged to abstract expressionist male endeavor. The brush was phallic” – and turned instead to the locus of film, dance, theatre and performance. Her work in these areas was strongly experimental and laid the groundwork for many later artists.
Her criticality defines Schneemann apart from more ‘orthodox’ feminist artists. Always concerned with “where the taboos and censorious conventions are embedded aesthetically” she was concerned with what feminism looked like, the battles it fought, how her own body and sexuality could be expressed – while outside the ambit of male power and gaze.
The history of her work is characterized by research into archaic visual traditions, pleasure wrested from suppressive taboos, the body of the artist in dynamic relationship with the social body. She received a BA from Bard College and an MFA from the University of Illinois. She has taught at many institutions including New York University, California Institute of the Arts, Bard College, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been the recipient of a 1999 Art Pace International Artist Residency, San Antonio, Texas; Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (1997, 1998); 1993 Guggenheim Fellowship; Gottlieb Foundation Grant; National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Schneemann had conferred Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from Maine College of Art, Portland, and the California Institute of Arts. She was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award, College Art Association, in 2000.
Her painting, photography, performance art and installation works have been shown at Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Modern Art, NYC; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and most recently in a retrospective at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York entitled “Up To And Including Her Limits”. Film and video retrospectives have been mounted at Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Film Theatre, London; Whitney Museum, NY; San Francisco Cinematheque; Anthology Film Archives, NYC.
Schneemann lives and works in New York.