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Dennis Oppenheim


Dennis Oppenheim was an American conceptual artist whose work encompassed sculptural installation, performance, and film. Dealing with esoteric ideas of experiential phenomena, nature, and societal structures, Oppenheim’s work, like the works of his peer Robert Smithson, sought to break sculpture out of traditional modes and pose questions rather than signify aesthetic allegiances. “Most of my work comes from ideas. I can usually do only a few versions of each idea. Land Art and Body Art were particularly strong concepts which allowed for a lot of permutations,” he once reflected. “But nevertheless, I found myself wanting to move onward into something else.” Born on September 6, 1938 in Electric City, WA, he went on to study at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland before receiving his MFA from Stanford University in 1965. Moving to New York the following year, the artist began producing ephemeral projects within the landscape, as seen in his seminal piece Annual Rings (1968), which consisted of large circles carved from fallen snow. Oppenheim began experimenting with video art and performance during the 1970s, and made major contributions to the history of sculpture within public spaces throughout the remainder of his career. The artist died on January 21, 2011 in New York, NY. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Denver Museum of Art, the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Tate Gallery in London, among others.

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