Listening to Marina Abramović: Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful

In this clip from the CD (as discussed in a previous post) that accompanies the catalogue of Marina Abramović’s current retrospective, The Artist Is Present, Marina discusses her performance Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful (1975) and shares with the reader her thoughts about the work and its creation. This is complemented by a discussion of the performance in one of the essays featured in the catalogue, “The Art of Marina Abramović: Leaving the Balkans, Entering the Other Side,” by art historian and critic Jovana Stokić.

Pages showing Art Must Be Beautiful in the publication Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present

As Stokić relates, during the early and mid-1970s, Marina performed a series of works in which she “explored passive aggression, constructing the actions around her rather spectacular body.”  She notes that Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful is one example of how, in the early years of performance art, female artists used their own bodies to challenge the institution of art and the notion of beauty. Marina has said in an interview that during the 1970s, “if the woman artist would apply make-up or put [on] nail polish, she would not have been considered serious enough.” Through this performance, says Stokić, Marina comments on “the commodification of art and artist by critiquing conventions of and demands for female beauty in art and contemporary culture.”

Stokić’s essay is one of five in the book that explore Marina Abramović’s career over the past four decades. By examining concepts of time and duration, elements of danger, and the role of the public in the artist’s performances, these essays offer a solid introduction to one of the early pioneers of performance art and help contextualize the works the artist discusses on the CD.


Overacting, and she aint that hot anyway, what a vain lil lass. My chocolate Tae Bo goddess wife is ten times better looking, but very humble. And never wears makeup or preens in front of a camera. This is pretense to exhibtionism, and false modesty. Art is not about artists, PERIOD. The very discussion is for ones own benefit and exploiting media. Wheres the beef?

art collegia delenda est

I’m very thankful to Mr. Frazell for finally telling me what art is and is not about, PERIOD. Perhaps he could also share his wife’s Tae Bo aesthetic with the wide, unworthy world?

Sorry, have to be in shape and eat right for that. You can call this art if you like, but what kind? There are as many as there are many, applied art, decorative art, fine art and that which goes in museums or more appropriately places where humans gather and worship life. but self expression is always for children, and why pretty much all great artists started later in life. They dont have to break bad habits that way, and very few ever graduated from an art school they had to through out what they had been “trained” to think and start anew, like Picasso and Klee. In the arts, those who can do, those who cant teach and look for career.

How you make art is irrelevant, as is the subject, the motif. It only must be understood and used by the artist to trigger intense emotions in the viewer, there is no conversation, thats for babies. Creative art is the mingled layering of defining humanity, exploring nature, and searching for god. With out one, you re crippled, without two, you are a fool. Art schools don’t tell you this, because artists are so rare, and they are in the business of selling MFAs. It is an industry, a brood as insidious as Eisenhower military Industrial complex, that of the academic/museo/gallery art careerist business.

I have today been put in charge of saving the Watts Towers and raising both awareness and monies for a Music Museum of the America’s on the site. This by the Rev. Cecil Murray famous of the First AME here in LA, who was on Nightline and other news shows during the 90s in the aftermath of the King Riots. It i time god, humanity and nature were reunited, and this is the place, the greatest work of art in America, neglected by the art world itself as it was not by one of them. And not in their sheltered confines, but in the heart of the city, true strength and passion reside.

The greatest work surrounded by the worlds greatest musics, that of mingled European, African and native cultures. Jazz the greatest form of art in our land, ignored by those in the ivory towers. Armstrong the Cezanne, Ellington the Monet, Bird and Coltrane the Picasso, Miles the Matisse. No kiddy music here, Blues, Salsa, Bossa Nova, Samba, Reggae, Gospel. You can learn more at my website, I am contacting a list he supplied me of the religious leaders of our area, from Catholic to Mormon. God must be returned to art, the only concept ever worth imagining. For if it doesnt evolved, it degrades, and falls into reactionary hands. The artist is a priest, as Cezanne said. Be true to what is holy. and fulfill our role in society, reflecting humanity, nature and god as one.

Save the Watts Towers, tear down the Ivories
Google Donald Frazell and join.

Is this thread about Marina anymore? I mean, I agree with most of what the guy above is saying, but I think maybe Marina would too. In other words, her show is worth actually seeing.

Her being against the “elevation” of artists into entertainment artistes is like sayin my homie Snoop’s raps are not misogynist and promote a vacant and souless lifestyle. Please!!!!!
From the heart of the LBC.

“false” Vanity and self absorbtion are not the traits of a saint, which you children see her as. That is the LCD, entertainment, identifying yourself with someone beyond you. The false path, and so, not art. Nothing is more pathetic than trying to be something you are not. Art reflects truth, of the whole, not the small and privileged sect of the emotionally disturbed of “contempt” art.

Fine art colleges must be destroyed. Life must return to our places of reflection, the tribes must be gathered, and rediscover who We are.

Donald—-you’re a moron. Clearly you want to stroke your own ego in public by attempting to put down the artwork of others. Just say you don’t get it and move along.

MOMA/Marina– attending this show was one of the highlights of my life. Being introduced to Marina’s work over ten years ago changed my perspective/perception of art and process—in everyday life. She has been one of my biggest inspirations and I am eternally grateful for the fact that she exists and shares her art with the world. For every one like Donald (see above posts) there are countless people who you are deeply touched and positively affected by you, Marina. I humbly thank you-always.

Um, no, more like countless who are bored by such drivel to the handful who are “moved” by its self absorbed therapy. it’s not art. My ego, and body soul and mind, are fairly healthy. This is hardly public. What she is doing is a king baby demanding attention. Boring.

are u crazy

you know, I don’t get a lot of artworks sometimes and some of them make me think.. why????? a lot of people think that art should not even be taught at university, but that’s like saying you shouldn’t teach history at university – art is part of the society and time it came from and it will eventually be more important than a textbook from the same era.. a picture tells a thousand words. put enough together and u have world history in all its different versions. and im also pretty sure most artists lucky enough to get shows anywhere important have graduated from somewhere, which is more than quite a few people in politics im pressuming.
also, if self expression is for the mindless and the youthful then you should stop having sex and talking to people. and stop posting insulting comments about people who are trying to contribute something to this sad existence they call life. you are not allowed to express your opinions for that is self expression. and please for the love of god do not bring god into this.

Hey! Donald has feelings just like Abrimovic!

I think Marina makes challenging, accessible (yes, because every one can see exactly what she’s doing, there’s no cerebral reference required like more pretentious art), universal, and deeply personal work.

I am amazed at Donald’s comments of someone who has the conceit to tell me what is art and what isn’t. Are you some kind of art-cop? or more precisely, art-tyrant? Enough about you.

Thank you Marina for pushing so far with your work. I appreciate the tremendous determination and discipline required for you to share it, and the honesty of your motives in your interview (Globe & Mail 2012-02-21).

Look your all right! Personal I think, ” No its not about the artist, BUT without artist you will have no human connection.” For me a “Piece” of Art has always made me feel an emotion and that goes for any shape or form. Also Personally Art should only mean something to you if it makes you feel an emotion, If not then that person wont consider it art. –J.C.I

See this? Notice this anger from the non purit spirit? You all are individuals that are not satisfied with all your activities. Your comments are non pertinents.

LMAO! One is born every minute, as the art of snake oil is the ultimate american idiosyncrasy.

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