Artist biography

English artist and sculptor. He studied at Guildford School of Art (1949–54) and the Royal College of Art in London (1956–9), as well as at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich (1959–60) and Florida State University in Tallahassee (1960–62). Influenced by Marxist counter-cultural politics in the 1960s, he adopted performance as the democratic basis for a new relationship between artist and audience. Working solely within public spaces in the 1970s, Brisley developed a series of solo and collaborative works, such as ZL 65 63 95C (1972; see Performance art, fig. 2), Ten Days (1978; London, ICA) and Between (1979; London, ICA), that pushed the body through various extended tasks or rituals. Vulnerable, exposed, Brisley's ‘body in struggle' dramatised the conflict between human autonomy and the instrumental forces of bureaucratic and state power. In the 1980s, in the face of both changing conceptions of the political in art and the increasing implausibility of performance as avant-garde interventionist activity, Brisley moved from performance to installations, tape–slide work and object-making. His critical motivations remained unchanged: the production of a political art that in its richness of metaphor and range of expressive resources is capable of capturing the ‘morbid symptoms' of capitalist culture.

Bibliography
Stuart Brisley: A Retrospective (exh. cat., ed. S. Nairne; London, ICA, 1981) [texts by P. Overy, J. Roberts and S. Hood]
The British Show (exh. cat., ed. W. Wright and A. Bond; Sydney, A.G. NSW, 1985)
The Georgiana Collection (exh. cat., text by M. Archer; Glasgow, Third Eye Cent.; Londonderry, Orchard Gal.; 1986)

JOHN ROBERTS

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