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.