Best known as a core member of Fluxus, the avant-garde art group founded in 1962, Alison Knowles has created groundbreaking experiments that have influenced contemporary art and artists for over fifty years. This is the first comprehensive exhibition of her work, spanning the entire breadth of her still-active career, from her intermedia works of the 1960s to participatory and relational art from the 2000s.
Knowles creates poetic works from her extended engagement with ordinary materials, found objects, and everyday life. In 1959, influenced by John Cage, she experimented with chance operations to determine a painting’s composition and made silkscreen-on-canvas works predating those of Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. She became known for her Fluxus event scores, including Make a Salad and Identical Lunch, which she has performed internationally since the early 1960s. Her major intermedia works include The Big Book (1967), which expanded an artist-made publication into a monumental installation, and the multifaceted House of Dust (1970), a poetry project that produced one of the earliest computer-generated poems.
Before entering the galleries, visitors see “Alison Knowles: Art/Life/Events,” an illustrated timeline that introduces the artist and the overarching trajectory of her career. The first half of the exhibition focuses on her artistic practice from 1960 to the early 1970s, ranging from her early silk-screened painting, Fluxus event scores, and multiples to major intermedia projects. The second part includes Knowles’s diverse range of practices from the 1970s to the present, including sculpture and installations; cyanotypes and mixed media prints; sound compositions and radio works; paper scrolls and flax and bean sculptures; artists’ books, multiples, and publications; and collaborations with other artists. The exhibition is accompanied by a major exhibition catalog published by BAMPFA, the first comprehensive book on Knowles’s work to be published by a museum.
by Alison Knowles: A Retrospective (1960-2022) is guest curated by Dr. Karen Moss with Lucia Fabio, organized by BAMPFA staff, and coordinated by Stephanie Cannizzo, associate curator, and Christina Yang, chief curator.
The exhibition is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art. It is also supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.