Body art is the ultimate form of figurative art. It began in its current form as a kind of performance art in the 1960s. Body artists use their own bodies as the basis for works of art.
Carolee Schneemann pioneered body art with her 1964 performance, Meat Joy, in which she writhed around on the floor with actors, raw meat, fish, and poultry. Meat Joy was a shocking, orgiastic performance that challenged social norms and taboos.
David Hammons perfected body art with his “body prints.” Hammons smeared himself in grease and other fluids, pressed his body against large sheets of paper and used the impression as the basis for works of art. He included other elements into his prints as well, frequently American flags, and raised questions about race, identity, and representation in all senses of the word.
Image: David Hammons, America the Beautiful (1968). Lithograph and body print. 39 x 29 1/2 in. (99.1 x 74.9 cm.). Hammer Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles. Oakland Museum of California, Founders Fund. Photo by Ed Glendinning