Kristine Stiles (born Kristine Elaine Dolan in Denver, Colorado, 1947) is the France Family Professor of Art, Art History and Visual Studies at Duke University. She is an art historian, curator, and artist specializing in global contemporary art. She is best known for her scholarship on artists’ writings, performance art, feminism, destruction and violence in art, and trauma in art. Stiles joined the faculty of Duke in 1988, and she has taught at the University of Bucharest and Venice International University. She received the Richard K. Lublin Distinguished Award for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence in 1994, and the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring in 2011, both at Duke University. Among other fellowships and awards include a J. William Fulbright Fellowship in 1995, a Solomon R. Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000, and an Honorary Doctorate from Dartington College of Arts in Tontes, Devon, England in 2005.
Stiles is the second of five children born to Paul G. Dolan and Katherine Haller Rogers Dolan. Stiles’s maternal genealogy includes a number of educators and public figures. Her grandfather, Frederick Rand Rogers [1894–1972], was a radical American educator, pioneer of physical fitness testing, and inventor of the Physical Fitness Index. Her great grandfather, Frederick John Rogers, was a professor of physics and Chair of the Physics Department at Stanford University and his wife, Stiles’s great grandmother, was the colorful Josephine Rand Rogers, a president of The League of Women Voters, and politically active in the Temperance Movement and in passing Child Welfare Laws. Another maternal great grandfather, Dr. George Spalatin Easterday, was mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico; and her great uncle, John Rankin Rogers, was third governor of the state of Washington and supporter of the “Barefoot School Boy Act.” Stiles’s father’s ancestry is all of Irish immigrants from Old Castle, County Cavan, but her grandfather William Joseph Dolan was born in Boston, trained in Italy as an interior decorator, and worked as a decorator of Catholic churches. Stiles retained her last name from her first marriage (1967–1974) to attorney Randolph Stiles.
Stiles earned her B.A. in Art History from San Jose State University in California (1970), and her M.A. (1974) and Ph.D. (1987) in the History of Art from the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied with Peter Selz and Herschel B. Chipp, both known for their focus on artists’ writings, the social history of art, and international art, concentrations that shaped Stiles’s scholarly direction. Stiles’s doctoral dissertation, "The Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS): The Radical Social Project of Event-Structured Live Art" (1987), was the first thesis on the subject of destruction in art. DIAS took place in London in 1966, was organized by Gustav Metzger (about whom Stiles has also published extensively), and some fifty international artists, and poets, as well as a few psychiatrists participated in DIAS.
One of Stiles's principle theoretical contributions to the history of performance art was her 1987 dissertation argument that the presentation of the artist's performing body initiates a new communicative structure in the visual arts, appending the traditional re-presentational role of metaphor with the connective function of metonymy. Countering the widespread claim in the early post-1945 period that performance art breaks down the barriers between art and life, Stiles asserted that metonymy augments interpersonal communication through its linking function, and expands the conventional modes of visual communication by creating the potential for an exchange between presenting and viewing subjects.
Stiles is among a handful of scholars who, in the late 1970s, laid the foundation for studying post-1945 performance art and related forms, writing about the pioneering artists of happenings, Fluxus, performance art, and new media. Her articles and essays, many of them book-length, have addressed the work of artists such as Jean-Jacques Lebel, Yoko Ono, Franz West, Carolee Schneemann, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Valie Export, Jean Toche, Alison Knowles, David Tudor and Henry Flynt, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Chris Burden, Kim Jones, Paul McCarthy, Barbara T. Smith, Marina Abramović, William Pope.L, Dan and Lia Perjovschi, Peter D'Agostino, STELARC, Jeffrey Shaw, Maurice Benayoun, and many others.
While still a graduate student, Stiles taught a seminar on performance art at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1979, which has been acknowledged as the second course on the subject taught in the U.S. Stiles also taught the first course in the U.S. on “Documentary Photography of the Nuclear Age” at Duke University in 1994, the same year that she curated two exhibitions on the subject, a symposium, and published an exhibition catalogue on the nuclear age photographs of James Lerager.
Stiles is also known for exposing as a myth that Austrian artist Rudolf Schwarzkogler’s castrated himself in a performance and died as a result of the wounds, a story circulated by Robert Hughes in Time magazine in 1972. Stiles provided evidence in 1990 that Schwarzkogler primarily staged his art in photographic tableaux, often using the Austrian artist Heinz Cibulka as his model. Hughes acknowledged his error in The New Yorker in 1996.
Stiles's work as an artist has included painting and mixed media pieces, conceptual and sociological art, and performance. She performed with Sherman Fleming and Yoko Ono, among others, and was the first multiple of Lynn Hershman Leeson's Robert Breitmore, appearing as Roberta in 1976. Active in the alternative art space movement during the punk era in San Francisco, Stiles performed, exhibited, and curated at JetWave (1980–82), founded by artists Randy Hussong, Sabina Ott, Bruce Gluck, and Fredrica Drotos, and at Twin Palms, founded by Lynn Hershman Leeson and Steve Dolan. She also served from 1976 to 1984 as the assistant to San Francisco artist Bruce Conner. From 1986 to 1989, she served on the Board of Directors at the Washington Project for the Arts when Jock Reynolds was its director. Stiles has worked as a curator, writer, lecturer, and/or consultant for the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Minneapolis; El Museo del Barrio, New York; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, among many other institutions.
Stiles’s collected papers 1900–2012 are housed at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University, Special Collections, and include genealogical records, letters, artists' archives, over 500 documentary photographs of performances, etcetera: http://search.library.duke.edu/search?id=DUKE004196941
- Kristine Stiles and Peter Selz, eds. Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996; Revised, enlarged 2nd edition, ed. Kristine Stiles, University of California Press, 2012.
- Kristine Stiles, “Uncorrupted Joy: International Art Actions,” in Paul Schimmel, ed. Out of Actions: Between Performance and The Object 1949–1979. Los Angeles: Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, 1998, 226–328.
- Kristine Stiles, “Between Water and Stone: Fluxus Performance, A Metaphysics of Acts,” in Elizabeth Armstrong and Joan Rothfuss, eds. In The Spirit of Fluxus. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 1993, 62–99. Reprinted in Tracy Warr, ed. The Artists’ Body. London: Phaidon Press, 2000, 211–14.
- Kristine Stiles, “Performance,” in Robert Nelson and Richard Shiff, eds. Critical Terms for Art History. 2nd edition, Chicago: University of Chicago, 2003, 75–97.
- Kristine Stiles, “INSIDE/OUTSIDE: Balancing Between a Dusthole and Eternity,” in Zdenka Badovinac, ed. Body and the East: From the 1960s to the Present. Ljubljana, Croatia: Museum of Modern Art, 1998, 19–30.
- Kristine Stiles, “Never Enough is Something Else: Feminist Performance Art, Probity, and the Avant-Garde,” in James M. Harding, ed. Contours of the Theatrical Avant-Garde: Performance and Textuality. Madison: University of Madison/Wisconsin Press, 239–289.
- Kristine Stiles, “Home Alone: ‘Reversal of Positions of Presentation’ and the Visual Semantics of Domesticity,” in Nancy Princenthal and Helaine Posner, eds. The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973–1990. Purchase, New York: Neuberger Museum, 2011.
- Kristine Stiles, “Survival Ethos and Destruction Art,” in Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 14:2 (Spring 1992): 74–102; excerpted in Tracy Warr, ed. The Artists’ Body. London: Phaidon Press, 2000, 227–229.
- Kristine Stiles, “Thresholds of Control: Destruction Art and Terminal Culture,” in English and German for Out of Control. Linz, Austria: Ars Electronica & Landesverlag, 1992, 29–50; reprinted in Timothy Druckrey, ed. Ars Electronica: Facing the Future (A Survey of Two Decades). Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000.
- Kristine Stiles, “Shaved Heads and Marked Bodies: Representations from Cultures of Trauma,” in Strategie II: Peuples Mediterraneens [Paris] 64-65 (July–December 1993): 95–117; reprinted with a new Afterword in Jean O'Barr, Nancy Hewitt, Nancy Rosebaugh, eds. Talking Gender: Public Images, Personal Journeys, and Political Critiques. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996, 36–64.
- Kristine Stiles, “Thoughts on Destruction Art,” Impakt 1997. Utrecht: Impakt Festival, 1997, 2–5.
- Frederick Rand Rogers, Educational Objectives of Physical Activity. New York: A.S. Barnes, 1931.
- Frederick Rand Rogers, Treason in American Education: A Case History. New York: Pleiades Publications, 1949.
- Garfield Gary Pennington, unpublished doctoral dissertation, “Frederick Rand Rogers: Educational Provocateur,” University of Oregon, 1972.
- Garfield Gary Pennington, “Frederick Rand Rogers: Educational Provocateur (1894–1972),” Canadian Journal of History of Sport, Vol. 12, No. 1 (May 1981): 24–50.
- Paul J. Karlstrom, Peter Selz: Sketches of a Life in Art. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.
- Kristine Stiles, “Synopsis of the Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS) and Its Theoretical Significance,” The Act 1 (Spring 1987): 22–31.
- Kristine Stiles, “The Story of DIAS and the ‘DIAS Affect’,” in Gustav Metzger. Vienna: Generali Foundation, 2005.
- Kristine Stiles, “Metzger’s Fierce, Poignant, and Prescient Manifestos” in Rett Kopi Documents the Future. Oslo, Norway: Rett Kopi, 2007.
- Kristine Stiles, “Synopsis of the Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS) and its Theoretical Significance,” The Act vol. 1 (Spring 1987): 22–31.
- Kristine Stiles, “‘Beautiful, Jean-Jacques’: Jean-Jacques Lebel’s Affect and the Theories of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari,” in Jean-Jacques Lebel. Milano: Edizioni Gabriele Mazzotta, 1999, 7–30.
- Kristine Stiles, Jean-Jacques Lebel. London: Mayor Gallery, 2003.
- Kristine Stiles, “Unbosoming Lennon: The Politics of Yoko Ono's Experience,” Art Criticism 7:2 (Spring 1992): 21–54.
- Kristine Stiles, “Being Undyed: The Meeting of Mind and Matter in Yoko Ono’s Events,” in Alexandra Monroe, ed. Yes Yoko Ono. New York: Japan Society, 2000, 145–149.
- Kristine Stiles, “Franz West’s Dialogic Paßtücke,” in Franz West (London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2003): 104–121.
- Kristine Stiles, ed. Correspondence Course, An Epistolary History of Carolee Schneemann and Her Circle. Introduction by Kristine Stiles. Duke University Press, 2010.
- Kristine Stiles, “Schlaget Auf: The Problem with Carolee Schneemann’s Paintings,” in Carolee Schneemann: Up To and Including Her Limits. New York: The New Museum, 1996, 15–25.
- Kristine Stiles, “At Last, A Great Woman Artist: Writing About Carolee Schneemann’s Epistolary Practice,” in Kristen Frederickson and Sarah E. Webb, eds. Singular Women. Berkeley: University California Press, 2003, 213–237.
- “Peggy Phelan and Kristine Stiles In Conversation,” Millennium Film Journal 54 (2011): 30–34.
- Kristine Stiles, “The Painter as an Instrument of Real Time,” introduction to Carolee Schneemann’s Imaging Her Erotics: Essays, Interviews, Projects. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001, 2–16.
- Kristine Stiles, Rafael Montañez Ortiz: Years of the Warrior, Years of the Psyche, 1968- 1988. New York: El Museo del Barrio, 1988, 8–51.
- Kristine Stiles, “Corpora Vilia: Valie Export’s Body,” in Valie Export’s Visual Syntagmatics. Philadelphia: Goldie Paley Gallery, 16–33.
- Kristine Stiles, Jean Toche: Impressions From The Rogue Bush Imperial Presidency. Durham: John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary & International Studies, 2009.
- Kristine Stiles, “Tuna and Other fishy Thoughts on Fluxus Events,” in FluxAttitudes. Buffalo and New York: Hallwalls and the New Museum, 1991, 25–34.
- Kristine Stiles, “David Tudor - Alive, Free, and Without Need of Culture,” in a special issue, “Composers inside Electronics: Music after David Tudor,” Leonardo Music Journal 14: 62–63; http://www.getty.edu/research/conducting_research/digitized_collections/davidtudor/symposium.html http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/index.html
- Kristine Stiles, “1.1.78 - 2.2.78: Roberta Breitmore,” in Roberta Breitmore Is Not Lynn Hershman. San Francisco: de Young Memorial Museum, 1978, 5–14.
- Kristine Stiles, “Burden of Light,” in Fred Hoffman, John Berger, Kristine Stiles, and Paul Schimmel, Chris Burden. Newcastle England: Merrell and Locus Plus, 2007, 22–37.
- Kristine Stiles, “Teaching a Dead Hand to Draw, Kim Jones, War and Art,” in Kim Jones: A Retrospective. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007, 45–84.
- Kristine Stiles, “Conversation with Paul McCarthy,” in Paul McCarthy. London: Phaidon Press, 1996, 6–29; reprinted in pressPLAY: Conversations with Artists 1995–2000. London: Phaidon Press, 2005.
- Kristine Stiles, “Barbara Smith’s Haunting,” in The 21st Century Odyssey Part II: The Performances of Barbara T. Smith. Pomona, California: Pomona College Museum of Art, 37–50.
- Kristine Stiles, “Cloud with its Shadow,” in Marina Abramović. London: Phaidon, 2008, 33–94.
- Kristine Stiles, “Thunderbird Immolation: William Pope L. and Burning Racism,” in Mark Bessire, ed. William Pope L: Eracism. Cambridge and Portland: MIT Press and the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art, 2002, 36–42.
- Kristine Stiles, ed. States of Mind: Dan & Lia Perjovschi. Survey essay by Kristine Stiles. Shorter essays by Marius Babias and Andrei Codrescu. Interviews by Roxana Marcoci (with Dan Perjovschi) and Kristine Stiles (with Lia Perjovschi). Durham: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, 2007.
- Kristine Stiles, “Trans-Europ Express/Expressed,” in ALPHA, TRANS, CHUNG: Peter D’Agostino, A Photographic Model: Semiotics, Film, and Interpretation. Dayton, Ohio: University Art Galleries, Wright State University, 1978, 55–58. www.peterdagostino.net/archives/pdA-ALPHA-book.pdf
- Kristine Stiles, “Come and Go,” in Peter d’Agostino, coming and going: NEW YORK (Subway), PARIS (Metro), San Francisco (BART), Washington (METRO): Peter D'Agostino. San Francisco: Not For Sale Press, 1982, 76–81. Excerpted in Glenn Phillips, ed. California Video. Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Trust, Getty Research Institute and J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007, 78.
- Kristine Stiles, “STELARC: On Evolution,” Frank [San Francisco] 3 (August 1984): 25, 35.
- Kristine Stiles, “Agnes Hegedüs, Bernd Lintermann, Jeffrey Shaw: “Reconfiguring the CAVE,” in Jeffrey Shaw and Peter Weibel, eds. Future Cinema: The Cinematic Imaginary after Film. Karlsruhe, Germany and Cambridge, Mass: Center for Art and Media and MIT Press, 2004, 492–497.
- Kristine Stiles, “7.47 a.m. (The Traumatic Visual Vocabulary of Maurice Benayoun’s So.So.So. Somebody Somewhere Some time),” in Maurice Benayoun / OPEN ART 1980–2010. Paris: CDA d'Enghien and Les Nouvelles éditions Scala, 2011, 83–87.
- Kathy O’Dell, Contract with the Skin: Masochism, Performance Art, and the 1970s. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998, xi-xii.
- Kelly Dennis, “Performance Art,” Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Michael Kelly, ed. Vol. 3. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, 474.
- Kristine Stiles, “Irreparable Damage: Meditation on James Lerager’s Tales from the Nuclear Age,” in James Lerager: Tales from the Nuclear Age. Raleigh: City Gallery Contemporary Art, 1994, 3–7.
- Robert Hughes, “The Decline and Fall of the Avant-Garde,” Time (18 December 1972): 111.
- Kristine Stiles, “Readings: Performance and Its Objects,” Arts Magazine 65:3 (November 1990): 35–47.
- Kristine Stiles, “Notes on Rudolf Schwarzkogler's Images of Healing,” White Walls: A Magazine of Writings by Artists 25 (Spring 1990): 13–26; reprinted in Rudolf Schwarzkogler. Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 1993, 29–39.
- Murray White, “Schwarzkogler’s Ear,” The New Yorker (November 11, 1996): 36.
- Ann Holcomb, Biological Factors. Atlanta, Georgia: NEXUS Gallery, 1991. Exhibition catalogue includes statements by the artists Barbara Schreiber, Joyce Scott, Kristine Stiles, and Carrie M. Weems.
- Washington Review 16:5 (February/March 1991): 5–7. Stiles’ painting “Moon Beam Catcher and the Princess” is the cover illustration.
- Kate Dobbs-Ariail, “North Carolina's Triangle,” Art Papers 15:5 (September–October 1991): 70.
- Kristine Stiles, Questions. Essays by Kathy O’Dell, Lynn Hershman, and Richard Irwin. Designed by J.C. Garrett. KronOscope Press: San Francisco, 1982.
- C. Carr, On Edge: Performance at the End of the Twentieth Century. Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 1993, 168–170, 181
- “Interview with Kristine Stiles and Sherman Fleming,” Minnesota Public Radio KSJN and KNOW, January 4, 1990.
- Yoko Ono and Kristine Stiles performed Ono’s “Bag Piece” at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2001: http://www.instantkarma.com/yowalkeropenevents2.html
- Kristine Stiles, “Bringing Back the Beat Generation,” Daily Californian (February 7, 1975): 13–14.