Chris Kraus (American writer)

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Chris Kraus
Born1955 (age 68–69)
New York City, U.S.
  • Writer
  • Critic
Alma materVictoria University of Wellington
Literary movementThe Artists Project

Chris Kraus (born 1955[1]) is a writer and critic. Her work includes the novels I Love Dick, Aliens and Anorexia, and Torpor, which form a loose trilogy that navigates between autobiography, fiction, philosophy, and art criticism,[2] and a sequence of novels dealing with American underclass experience that began with Summer of Hate.[3] Her approach to writing has been described as ‘performance art within the medium of writing’[4] and ‘a bright map of presence’.[5] Her work has drawn controversy through its equalisation of high and low culture, mixing critical theory with colloquial language and graphic representations of sex.[6] Her books often blend intellectual, political, and sexual concerns with wit,[7] oscillating between esoteric referencing and parody.[8] She has written extensively in the fields of art and cultural criticism.

Kraus has also produced numerous plays and films, including the feature film Gravity & Grace. Her work has featured in publications such as Artforum, Art in America, Modern Painters, Afterall, The New Yorker, The New York Times Literary Supplement, The Paris Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Bookforum, and Texte zur Kunste.[9] She taught creative writing and art writing at The European Graduate School/EGS for ten years and has been Writer in Residence at ArtCenter College of Design. Kraus is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for General Non-Fiction (2016), a Warhol Foundation Arts Writing Grant (2011), and Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism from the College Art Association (2008).[10] Kraus is co-editor of the publishing house Semiotext(e). Her bestselling novel, I Love Dick, was adapted for television by Joey Soloway and released on Amazon Video (2018). Holland Cotter has described her as ‘one of our smartest and most original writers on contemporary art and culture’.[11]


Christine Kraus was born in The Bronx, New York City, and spent her childhood in Milford, Connecticut, and New Zealand.[12][13] Kraus completed a BA in literature and political theory at Victoria University of Wellington, beginning at the university at the age of 16.[14] She worked as a journalist for five years after the completion of her BA. When she was 21 she arrived in New York, where she began studying with actor Ruth Maleczech and director Lee Breuer, whose studio in the East Village was called ReCherChez.[15]

Kraus is Jewish and deals with many spiritual and social aspects of Judaism in her works.[16] She says that her parents attended Christian church and did not tell her that her family is Jewish until she moved back to Manhattan at age 21, possibly to shield her from antisemitism.[17][18]

She continued to make films through the mid-1990s. As of 2006 she was married to Sylvère Lotringer, a Jewish man who survived the Holocaust as a child.[18] They had divorced by 2016.[17] Some of her works are based on her marriage and her ex-husband.[17][18]

Kraus' I Love Dick was first published in North America in 1997, initially receiving a poor reception but going on to become a popular success.[19] At first, according to Anakana Schofield of The Irish Times, the novel was only a "cult hit" among the visual arts community and did not receive much attention from "mainstream literary culture".[20] I Love Dick was not published in the United Kingdom until 2015.[21]

In 2017, Kraus published After Kathy Acker, a biography of Kathy Acker.[22]

Kraus is a landlord, owning several low-income properties in Albuquerque, New Mexico - she describes this as "a day job".[23] Kraus "chose early on not to pursue full-time teaching", instead focusing on property management which she claims takes "a couple of hours every day".[24]


I Love Dick[edit]

I Love Dick is an epistolary novel with autofiction elements.[25] The Guardian described it as "a cult feminist classic" despite its poor reception on release in 1997.[26] I Love Dick is written as a series of love letters written to an addressee who is derived from the real-life cultural critic Dick Hebdige. Hebdige described the novel as a violation of his privacy.[25]

In 2016, Joey Soloway adapted the novel as a TV series, produced by Amazon Studios.[27] The first season was released on May 12, 2017.[28]

Where Art Belongs[edit]

Where Art Belongs is a non-fiction essay examining contemporary art and sexuality.[29] In a series of vignettes, Kraus discusses various forms of early 21st century art, detailing her personal association with some of the artists. Artists whose work is discussed include Ariel Pink, Bernadette Corporation, Bas Jan Ader, Elke Krystufek, Moyra Davey, Louis Malle, and James Benning[citation needed]. Ariel Pink's visual art is discussed in connection with Tiny Creatures, an art collective that was active in Los Angeles from 2006-2007. Elke Krystufek's visits to Easter Island and Palau are described as being inspired by Ader's disappearance at sea, journeys that were undertaken for the purpose of producing art. Photographer Moyra Davey's diagnosis of multiple sclerosis[30] is described as influencing her choice to incorporate writing into her artwork, particularly fragments by Walter Benjamin. Kraus also discusses her participation in the Sex Workers' Art Show, a touring show which precipitated the firing of Gene Nichol, president of the College of William & Mary, when he allowed the troupe to perform at the college.[31]

Additionally, Kraus cites two historical countercultural documents on sexuality which have informed contemporary art. Suck was an underground newspaper founded in 1969 by Jim Haynes, Germaine Greer, Bill Levy, Heathcote Williams and Jean Shrimpton.[32] The twelfth issue of Recherches, a French journal, was edited by Félix Guattari in collaboration with the Front homosexuel d'action révolutionnaire, a gay rights group.[33] Titled "Three Billion Perverts", the issue was devoted to homosexuality, with many copies being seized and destroyed by French authorities.[34][35] Kraus cites Andrea Fraser's Untitled (2003), a video work showing a sexual encounter between the artist and a collector who subsequently purchased a copy of the video, as an example of an artwork informed by the literature.[36]


Sylvère Lotringer, Kraus's husband from the late eighties to the late nineties, founded Semiotexte's Foreign Agents series, which mostly published French critical theorists, in 1980. Ten years later Kraus founded the press's Native Agents imprint to publish fiction, mostly by women, as an analogue to the French theories of subjectivity in the Foreign Agents series.[37] In addition to groundbreaking works of fiction by writers like Michelle Tea and Ann Rower, Native Agents has published notable volumes of poetry and prose by Eileen Myles, Barbara Barg, and Fanny Howe, as well as memoirs and interviews by Kathy Acker, Bob Flanagan, David Rattray, and William Burroughs. In a 2012 piece for n+1, senior editor Elizabeth Gumport wrote "What united the Native Agents authors was the way their work combined elements of theory, fiction, and biography, explicitly refusing to identify absolutely with any single genre."[37]

In 2017, Kraus came under sustained criticism from anti-gentrification activists who believed she and other artists were being used to promote displacement in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.[38] Semiotext(e) chose to cancel an event at which she was slated to speak rather than face further protests.[39] In an April 2023 interview with Kraus in Interview magazine, Gary Indiana talked about how people were ganged up on by social media. Kraus: "It's the worst kind of elementary school bullying." Indiana: "I've seen it done to you. I've seen it done to a lot of people we really care about...putting down this person for something they know nothing about."


Before beginning her career as writer, Kraus was an artist and filmmaker, making a number of short films and videos, including one feature Gravity & Grace.[citation needed]. Her films have been the focus of a number of international retrospective exhibitions and screenings, beginning in 2008 with “Plastic is Leather, Fuck You: Film and Video 1983-1993” at Galerie Cinzia Friedlaender, Berlin[citation needed]. In the press release for the 2011 exhibition at Real Fine Arts in Brooklyn, Kraus detailed her thoughts behind the production of these films.[40]


In 2008, Kraus received the Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism from the College Art Association.[41]


  • I Love Dick, 1997 (Semiotext(e) / Native Agents). ISBN 9781584350347
  • Aliens & Anorexia, 2000 (Semiotext(e) / Native Agents). ISBN 9781584351269
  • Hatred of Capitalism: A Semiotext(e) Reader by Kraus and Sylvere Lotringer, 2001. ISBN 9781584350125
  • Video Green: Los Angeles Art and the Triumph of Nothingness, 2004 (Semiotext(e) / Active Agents). ISBN 9781584350224
  • LA Artland: Contemporary Art from Los Angeles by Kraus, Jan Tumlir, and Jane McFadden, 2005 (Black Dog). ISBN 9781904772309
  • Torpor, 2006 (Semiotext(e) / Native Agents). ISBN 9781584350279
  • I Love Dick by Kraus, Eileen Myles, Joan Hawkins; 2006 (Semiotext(e) / Native Agents).
  • Where Art Belongs, 2011 (Semiotext(e) / Intervention Series). ISBN 9781584350989
  • Summer of Hate, 2012 (Semiotext(e) / Native Agents). ISBN 9781584351139
  • You Must Make Your Death Public: a collection of texts and media on the work of Chris Kraus. Mute. 5 January 2015. pp. 135–. ISBN 978-1-906496-64-7.
  • After Kathy Acker: A Biography, 2017 (Allen Lane). ISBN 978-0241318058
  • Social Practices, 2018 (Semiotext(e) / Active Agents). ISBN 9781635900392

Books in Spanish[edit]

Filmography and performance history[edit]

  • In Order to Pass (1982), 30 minutes, Super8 film/video.
  • Terrorists in Love (1985), 5 minutes, Super8 film/video.
  • Voyage to Rodez (1986), 14 minutes, 16mm film.
  • Foolproof Illusion (1986), 17 minutes, video.
  • How to Shoot a Crime (1987), 28 minutes, video.
  • The Golden Bowl or Repression (1990), 12 minutes, 16mm film.
  • Traveling at Night (1991), 14 minutes, video.
  • Sadness at Leaving (1992), 20 minutes, 16mm film.
  • Gravity & Grace (1996), 88 minutes, Lonely Girl Films (New Zealand/USA/Canada).
  • Disparate Action/Desperate Action (1980), performance.
  • Readings From The Diaries of Hugo Ball (1983–84), performance.
  • Longing Last Longer (1998), performance with Penny Arcade based on I Love Dick, directed by Eric Wallach and produced by The Kitchen, New York, January 1998.


  1. ^ "Chris Kraus". Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  2. ^ Hänggi (2015). "Professor of Creative Writing at The European Graduate School / EGS. Biography". Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  3. ^ Jeppesen (2012). "Travis Jeppesen on the best of 2012 (ArtForum)". Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  4. ^ Masschelein (2019). "Who's Peaked? Chris Kraus's Writing Performances as a Case Study for Twenty-First Century Writing Culture". Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  5. ^ Jamison (2015). "This Female Consciousness: On Chris Kraus". Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  6. ^ El Kholti (2022). "Hedi El Kholti and Chris Kraus on Sylvère Lotringer". Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  7. ^ Vogel (2013). "Summer of Hate". Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  8. ^ Mullaly (2016). "Chris Kraus: 'The more seriously you take something, the funnier it is". Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  9. ^ Hänggi (2015). "Professor of Creative Writing at The European Graduate School / EGS. Biography". Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  10. ^ Hänggi (2015). "Professor of Creative Writing at The European Graduate School / EGS. Biography". Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  11. ^ Cotter (2011). "CHRIS KRAUS: 'Films'". Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  12. ^ "Conversations with iconic people – Chris Kraus".Archived 2017-04-06 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Chris Kraus".
  14. ^ "Chris Kraus".
  15. ^ Guthrie, Kayla. "Interview: Performing Is Storytelling: Q+A with Chris Kraus." Art in America. 2011 June 22.
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b c Sonkin, Rebecca (5 August 2016). "Chris Kraus and the K-Word". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  18. ^ a b c Cahmi, Leslie (7 June 2006). "The Tense of Trauma - Novelist Chris Kraus ponders the meaning of "It would have been"". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  19. ^ "Chris Kraus: I Love Dick was written 'in a delirium'". 30 May 2017.
  20. ^ "I Love Dick by Chris Kraus review: A cult tale of infatuation". The Irish Times.
  21. ^ "I Love Dick is an assault on power - especially the oblivious kind". 8 January 2016.
  22. ^ Laing, Olivia (31 August 2017). "After Kathy Acker by Chris Kraus review – sex, art and a life of myths". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  23. ^ "Chris Kraus on the Enduring Relevance of I Love Dick and Her New Book, A Biography of Kathy Acker". 16 October 2017.
  24. ^ "Novelist Chris Kraus: 'Who hasn't had an affair?'". 30 April 2017.
  25. ^ a b "Chris Kraus, Female Antihero". The New Yorker. 14 November 2016.
  26. ^ "I Love Dick: The book about relationships everyone should read". 2 November 2015.
  27. ^ Gajanan, Mahita (2016-02-18). "Coming from the creator of Transparent: I Love Dick, the TV version of cult novel". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  28. ^ "I Love Dick critic reviews". May 24, 2017. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  29. ^ Kraus, Chris (2011). Where Art Belongs. Semiotext(e) Intervention Series. Vol. 8. Semiotext(e). ISBN 9781584350989.
  30. ^ Where Art Belongs, p. 102.
  31. ^ Where Art Belongs, p. 95.
  32. ^ Where Art Belongs, pp. 76-82.
  33. ^ "Trois milliards de pervers: Grande Encyclopédie des Homosexualités". Éditions Recherches. (French)
  34. ^ Where Art Belongs, pp. 83-86.
  35. ^ Genosko, Gary. "Busted: Félix Guattari and the Grande Encyclopédie des Homosexualités". Rhizomes.
  36. ^ Where Art Belongs, p. 86.
  37. ^ a b "Female Trouble," Elizabeth Gumport, n+1 Magazine, 14 February 2012
  38. ^ "Destroying the Neighborhood to Save It". 10 October 2017.
  39. ^ McGahan, Jason (5 October 2017). "Boyle Heights Event by I Love Dick Author Canceled After Pressure From Activists". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  40. ^ "Press release for "Chris Kraus Films"" (Press release). Brooklyn, New York: Real Fine Arts.
  41. ^ "Awards". The College Art Association. Retrieved 11 October 2010.

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