Topless Cellist: The Improbable Life of Charlotte Moorman

Topless Cellist

The Improbable Life of Charlotte Moorman

Pub. price: $35.95

ISBN10: 026202750X ISBN13: 9780262027502 Contributors: Ono, Yoko (Foreword) Publisher: Mit Pr Published: Sep 12 2014 Pages: 447 Weight: 3.00lbs. Height: 9.50" Width: 7.50" Depth: 1.50" Edition: 1st Edition Language: English

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The Juilliard-trained cellist Charlotte Moorman sat nude behind a cello of carvedice, performed while dangling from helium-filled balloons, and deployed an array of instruments onThe Mike Douglas Show that included her cello, a whistle, a cap gun, a gong, anda belch. She did a striptease while playing Bach in Nam June Paik's Sonata for AdultsOnly. In the 1960s, Moorman (1933--1991) became famous for her madcap (and oftenunclothed) performance antics; less famous but more significant is Moorman's transformativeinfluence on contemporary performance practice--and her dedication to the idea that avant-garde artshould reach the widest possible audience. In Topless Cellist, the first book toexplore Moorman's life and work, Joan Rothfuss rediscovers, and recovers, the legacy of anextraordinary American artist. Moorman's arrest in 1967 for performing toplessmade her a water-cooler conversation-starter, but before her tabloid fame she was a star of theavant-garde performance circuit, with a repertoire of pieces by, among others, Yoko Ono, JosephBeuys, John Cage, and Paik, her main artistic partner. Moorman invented a new mode of performancethat combined classical rigor, jazz improvisation, and avant-garde experiment -- informed byintuition, daring, and love of spectacle. Moorman's annual festival of the avant-garde offered thepublic a lively sampler of contemporary art in performance, music, dance, poetry, film, and othermedia. Rothfuss chronicles Moorman's life from her youth in Little Rock, Arkansas(where she was "Miss City Beautiful" of 1952) through her career in New York's avant-gardeto her death from breast cancer in 1991. (Typically, she approached her treatment as if it were aperformance.) Deeply researched and profusely illustrated, Topless Cellist offersa fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious story of an artist whose importance was morethan the sum of her performances.

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