Eleanor Antin Funny and unflinching – Eleanor Antin bares all at LACMA

Apollo May 23, 2019

Eleanor Antin initially made Carving: A Traditional Sculpture (1972) for the Whitney Annual. Back then, the exhibition strictly featured painting and sculpture, and Antin claimed that her work – 148 black-and-white photographs documenting her unclothed body as it shed 10 pounds over 37 days of crash-dieting – was the latter, a sculptural carving of her own form. Whitney curators balked at this logic and rejected the piece. But over subsequently decades it became revered as a provocative feminist take on body image and the reinvention of the self, and a smart jab at minimalist seriality – Antin hung all the photos in an orderly grid. Nearly half a century later, in 2017, shortly after the death of her husband, the poet David Antin, she decided to revisit the project. ‘Maybe it was that I lost him, and then I lost part of myself,’ she said in an interview at the time. ‘It helped also as I knew when he died I had to get working immediately.’

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