Upper Cut

Dennis Oppenheim

American, 1938 - 2011

Upper Cut, 1999

  • Not On View

Wood, pressed board, hard foam, art books and metal

Dimensions: 58 × 55 × 43 1/2 in. (147.3 × 139.7 × 110.5 cm)

Purchased in memory of Dr. Stuart Hodge, Director of the Flint Institute of Arts (1959-1980), with funds from the Dr. Stuart Hodge memorial and partial gift from The Dennis Oppenheim Foundation, 1999.34

Dennis Oppenheim burst onto the contemporary art scene in the mid-1960s, when he became known primarily as an Earth Artist. He created works that are as conceptual as they are dedicated to traditional object-making. At the same time, he experimented with Body Art and Performance Art, where he explored universal and personal themes within the areas of world history, art history, popular culture, comedy, and his own psyche. Later, in the early seventies, Oppenheim began to experiment with video and technology, making what he has referred to as his "machine pieces." His works generated during this period employ different systems of making art, finding their final form as installations.The connection between Oppenheim's earlier and later works is in his references to the body. In many of the sculptures, the imagery can be understood as an autobiographical thread that joins his work. Upper Cut resembles a wide-open mouth that reveals specifically chosen art and philosophy books in lieu of teeth. It has some missing "teeth," perhaps a metaphor for educational gaps or stray thoughts in one's perception of the world. In this and earlier work, Oppenheim successfully transforms simple materials into a multidimensional artistic statement, at once humorous and meaningful.

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