Dennis Oppenheim

September 6, 1938- January 21, 2011




JWM: Do you have a muse?
DO: No, I have to somehow trap this thing. I have to go after it through a sensory approach with all the senses operating in tangent- operating outside myself- sort of prowling this featureless thing until I can see it. And quite often, even with that, it's not good enough. You see, this wouldn't be an interesting profession unless it was really difficult.
Excerpt from an interview with J.W. Morson, published in Kiosk, Vol 11, Spring 1994:



Oppenheim is uncompromising and his works, lie the movements he has represented, from Land Art to Body Art, from Video Art to Process Art down to Public Art in which he was engaged until the end, are none other than phases of an experiential transition to a completely free and independent artistic development. This does not mean his work has developed a profound unity over the years, unbeknown to its creator. In observing the works of the last forty years you realize how much the form has changed, but far less his purpose. [Decomposition Gallery of 1968, for example, and Digestion: Gypsum Gypsies of 1989, a group of deer in fiberglass whose antlers shoot fire, are both based on decomposition caused by the absorption of energy]. His aim is not to limit himself to the creation of objects but develop an ambiguous and problematic sign system that compels viewers to question themselves about the absolute instability of the universe around them. It is the point of observation that is undermined in a permanent metamorphosis rich in consequences.
Excerpt from the essay "Art outside Itself" by Albert Fiz, published in Dennis Oppenheim, Musée d'art moderne, Saint-Etienne Métropole and Silvana Editorale, Milan, Italy, 2011: