Related themes

The Body in Art

Discover how artists represent and use the body to investigate their relationships to gender and identity.

Up to and Including Her Limits

Carolee Schneemann
(American, born 1939)

1973-76. Crayon on paper, rope, harness, super 8mm film projector, video (color, sound; 29 min.), and six monitors, Dimensions variable

Schneemann is known for her groundbreaking multimedia works, ranging from painting and film to politically charged performance and installation. Her work explores visual traditions, the body of the individual as it relates to social bodies, and preconceived notions of sexuality and gender. In Up to and Including Her Limits, a rope and harness hang above a huge canvas. Video monitors show a recording of the artist suspended naked above the canvas using her body to paint on it. With these remnants of a performance–video recordings, harness, and markings on a canvas–Schneemann addressed the male-dominated history of Abstract Expressionism and action painting.

A work of art made from paint applied to canvas, wood, paper, or another support (noun).

A term that emerged in the 1960s to describe a diverse range of live presentations by artists, including actions, movements, gestures, and choreography. Performance art is often preceded by, includes, or is later represented through various forms of video, photography, objects, written documentation, or oral and physical transmission.

A form of art, developed in the late 1950s, which involves the creation of an enveloping aesthetic or sensory experience in a particular environment, often inviting active engagement or immersion by the spectator.

The dominant artistic movement in the 1940s and 1950s, Abstract Expressionism was the first to place New York City at the forefront of international modern art. The associated artists developed greatly varying stylistic approaches, but shared a commitment to an abstract art that powerfully expresses personal convictions and profound human values. They championed bold, gestural abstraction in all mediums, particularly large painted canvases.

Art critic Harold Rosenberg coined the term “action painting” in 1952 to describe the work of artists who painted using bold gestures that engaged more of the body than traditional easel painting. Often the viewer can see broad brushstrokes, drips, splashes, or other evidence of the physical action that took place upon the canvas.