The papers of the artist Robert Kushner measure 4.6 linear feet and date from 1967 to 2011. The collection documents primarily the early career of Robert Kushner through performance videos and other media artworks, correspondence, notes, lab records, inventories, an exhibition proposal, and subject files regarding critic Amy Goldin.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of the artist Robert Kushner measure 4.6 linear feet and date from 1967 to 2011. The collection documents primarily the early career of Robert Kushner through performance videos, other media artworks, correspondence, notes, lab records, inventories, an exhibition proposal, and subject files regarding critic Amy Goldin.
Performances and artworks comprise the bulk of the collection and include video recordings, sound recordings, and motion picture films documenting works by Robert Kushner created between circa 1967 and 1982. Most of the video footage documents live performances of Kushner's pageants and fashion shows that took place between 1972 and 1981, primarily in art spaces in the SOHO district of New York City. In addition to live performance documentation, videos and films include four moving image artworks, recorded music used in performances, and publicity including a television news magazine segment featuring Kushner and his edible costumes. Paper documentation of Kushner's video recordings includes correspondence, notes, lab records, performance programs, edit worksheets, and inventories of Kushner's performance videos. An exhibition file contains documentation of the development of a proposed exhibition from 1999-2000 entitled "Pret-a-porter: Robert Kushner, performance and fashion, 1970-1980."
Subject files compiled by Robert Kushner regarding critic Amy Goldin (1926-1978), Kushner's former teacher and close friend, contain mainly photocopies and a few original documents. Included are published and unpublished writings, letters to and from Goldin, photographs, and biographical material. A small amount of original primary sources related to Goldin are also found.
Collection is arranged in 3 series:
Series 1: Performances and Artwork, 1967-1988 (Boxes 1-4, FC 6-7; 3.7 linear feet)
Series 2: Video Documentation and Exhibition Proposal, 1988-2002 (Box 4; 0.2 linear feet)
Series 3: Research Material on Amy Goldin, 1971-2011 (Boxes 4-5; 0.7 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
Robert Kushner (1949- ) is a New York, N.Y.-based painter of the Pattern and Decoration movement and an installation artist who began his career as a performance artist.
Kushner was born in Pasadena, California in 1949 and studied visual arts at the University of California at San Diego, La Jolla in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Kushner met and worked closely with the critic Amy Goldin at UCSD, and his work was strongly influenced by her scholarship and thinking about non-Western visual cultures, particularly regarding Islamic decorative art.
Kushner began his work with fashion, costume, and performance in the early 1970s in New York City. He performed and exhibited in the many SOHO art spaces that emerged at that time supporting avant garde and experimental art, such as the 98 Greene Street Loft, the Kitchen, The Clocktower, St. Mark's Church, and Paula Cooper Gallery. The work evolved from the creation of soft sculptures using found materials, to the creation of costumes and fashion "lines" with nontraditional materials, including fresh food, which he presented in the performance genres of pageants and fashion shows, using models to exhibit his works before live audiences. In 1973, art dealer Holly Solomon became a champion of his work. He was a founding member of the Pattern and Decoration movement beginning in the mid-1970s, and his performance, costume, and paintings are strongly associated with that movement.
Kushner has exhibited his work widely, with major exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art. Kushner's work is included in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the National Gallery of Art, among many others. He is represented in New York by the DC Moore Gallery.
Donated 2013 by Robert Kushner.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.