The Body Artist

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The Body Artist
The body artist dellilo.jpg
Author Don DeLillo
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novella
Publisher Scribner
Publication date
6 Feb 2001
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 128 (hardback first edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-7432-0395-X
OCLC 44676019
813/.54 21
LC Class PS3554.E4425 B63 2001

The Body Artist is a novella written in 2001 by Don DeLillo. It explores the highly abnormal grieving process of a young performance artist, Lauren Hartke, following the suicide of her significantly older husband. The novella is sometimes described as a ghost story due to the appearance of an enigmatic figure that Lauren discovers hiding in an upstairs room of the house following her husband's death.

Plot summary[edit]

Lauren Hartke and her film director husband, Rey Robles, are occupying an isolated house outside New York City. They have a sparse verbal exchange over breakfast before Rey leaves to go for a drive. Later that morning, Rey is found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his first wife's Manhattan apartment. An obituary detailing the frequently ambiguous details of Rey's life ensues, where Rey's age (64) is revealed, along with his history of depression and the fact that Lauren had been Rey's third wife.

A bereaved Lauren remains alone in the house against the advice of her friends and relatives. She becomes disconnected from the temporal world and from her own body, experiencing frequent and inexplicable déjà vu. Lauren spends the subsequent hours, days and weeks exploring this disconnection. She practices her trademark 'bodywork'-- aerobic and stretching techniques she has developed to prepare her body for performance pieces. Lauren also integrates a sequence of daily rituals, including chopping firewood and gazing for hours at webcam footage of a road in Kotka, Finland.

One morning, Lauren hears a noise coming from the upper floor of the house. She goes upstairs to investigate but finds no one there. Lauren goes upstairs again the next day. This time, she finds a man sitting in one of the bedrooms. The man's appearance varies each time Lauren sees him, but in this first incarnation, he is described as "smallish and fine-boned [resembling] a kid, sandy-haired and roused from deep sleep" (43).


Luca Guadagnino is to make an adaptation of the novel under the title Body Art, scheduled to release in France in 2014.

External links[edit]