Jaime Davidovich

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Jaime Davidovich
Born(1936-09-29)September 29, 1936
DiedAugust 27, 2016(2016-08-27) (aged 79)
Other namesDr. Videovich
EducationNational College
University of Uruguay
School of Visual Arts
OccupationConceptual artist
Years active1956–2016
Spouse(s)Judith Henry

Jaime Davidovich (September 29, 1936 – August 27, 2016)[1] was an Argentine-American conceptual artist and television-art pioneer.[2] His innovative artworks and art-making activities produced several distinct professional reputations including painter, installation artist, video artist, Public-access television cable TV producer, activist, and non-profit organizer.[clarification needed] He is the creator of legendary downtown Manhattan cable television program The Live! Show (1979–1984). Billed as "the variety show of the avant-garde",[citation needed] The Live! Show was an eclectic half-hour of live, interactive artistic entertainment inspired by the Dada performance club Cabaret Voltaire and the anarchic humor of American television comedian Ernie Kovacs.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Davidovich was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina[3] to Lucio Davidovich and Clara Davidovich (née Jacif). His parents were Jewish immigrants from Ukraine.[1]

When Davidovich was eight years old he contracted rheumatic fever and was bedridden for several months. It was during which time his parents introduced him to art materials to pass the time.[2]:18

In 1948 when he was 12 years old, Davidovich began to study art under his cousin Simón Feldman during which time he became interested in the work of Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. Davidovich later worked under the Hungarian cubist artist Aurel Kessler.[2]:18

In 1958, Davidovich received a bachelor's degree from the National College in Buenos Aires. In 1961, he received a degree from the University of Uruguay. In 1963, he received a degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.[4][5]


Visual art[edit]

Davidovich began exhibiting his paintings in 1956 in Argentina, Brazil, and the United States. Interested in space and texture, he experimented with the boundaries of visual artworks first by dissolving the structure of the painting's frame by affixing canvas to walls and then by installing works directly on walls, floors, stairways, and sidewalks.

Adhesive tape came to figure prominently in Davidovich's work, initially as a means to affix canvas to walls and subsequently as an artistic medium itself; he would go on to exhibit throughout Argentine museums and art galleries, as well as in Iowa, New York, Ohio, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, France, Germany, Iran, Italy and Spain; he resided in New York City until his death.[1]

The emergence of portable video equipment in the late 1960s dovetailed with Davidovich's existing interest in minimalism and the aesthetics of line. Davidovich's single channel video works "Road" in 1972 and "3 Mercer Street" in 1975 are some of his earliest video art explorations. These works are noteworthy because of their institutional backing; "Road" was produced with the assistance of the Akron Art Institute in Ohio and "3 Mercer Street" was made possible by a grant from the Creative Arts Public Service (CAPS) program. Davidovich then went on to create video installations, including his "Evita" works that developed between 1984–1992 and "Inside and Between" a 1996 work shown at El Museo del Barrio in New York City.


"I am an Argentinian artist working in New York, in context of an international world and ideas. That's what I am, and that's the way I will be until I die."

– Jaime Davidovich, Jaime Davidovich: In Conversation with / En conversación con Daniel R. Quiles. 2017.[2]:117

When cable television emerged in the mid-1970s, Jaime Davidovich was one of the first artists to recognize its potential for the contemporary arts. In 1976 he helped establish Cable SoHo. A year later he established the Artists Television Network, a nonprofit organization established to explore the artistic potential of broadcast television and encourage the dissemination of video art through a commercial broadcast medium. The organization produced television programming under the name SoHo Television, a Project of the Artists Television Network, and broadcast on Manhattan public-access television cable TV. Programming included video art, early music videos, performances and interviews with artists including Laurie Anderson, John Cage, and Richard Foreman among many others. The organization produced programming until 1984.

Davidovich is perhaps best known for his work on The Live! Show, a weekly public-access television program with a variety show format that appropriated the formal norms of television along with avant-garde performances, artwork, political satire, and social commentary. The program featured interviews and performance work by visiting artists, including Laurie Anderson, Eric Bogosian, Tony Oursler, and Michael Smith, along with musical performances, ersatz commercials, and viewer participation via live call-in segments. Presiding over the show's disparate collaborative elements was Davidovich’s own satirical character, “Dr. Videovich, specialist in curing television addiction,” whom the New York Times’ television critic John J. O’Connor described as “a persona somewhere between Bela Lugosi and Andy Kaufman.” [6] The show also featured commercials for Videokitsch, commercially produced items and art multiples made by Davidovich and others. Of The Live! Show, one critic notes, "Davidovich’s humor obviously transcends his medium, resulting in a comment as potent today as one assumes it was in 1972—harnessing new media to capture what is 'real' and 'true' is an artistic act both vitally important and profoundly absurd."[7] In 1991 the American Museum of the Moving Image presented a retrospective of The Live! Show. In 2007 the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Spain added The Live! Show to its collection of video art.[8]

Selected exhibitions[edit]

In 2010 he was honored with a retrospective exhibition at ARTIUM, Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporaneo in Spain. Other solo exhibitions include Cabinet, Brooklyn, New York; MAMBA: Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires; Vanguardia, Bilbao, Spain; and the American Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York. Davidovich has participated in a wide range of group exhibitions, at institutions such as J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; 2007 Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Long Beach Museum of Art, California; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Davidovich lives and works in New York.

Recent exhibitions included "Museum of Television Culture" (2013) and "Wooster Projects" (2012) at Churner and Churner, New York.

Selected work[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Grimes, William (30 August 2016). "Jaime Davidovich, Artist Whose Videos Bypassed the 'Gatekeepers of Culture,' Dies at 79". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c d Davidovich, Jaime; Quiles, Daniel R.; Hanhardt, John G. (Introduction by) (2017). Jaime Davidovich: In Conversation with / En conversación con Daniel R. Quiles (in English and Spanish). New York, NY/Caracas, Venezuela: Fundación Cisneros/Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and Institute for Studies on Latin American Art. ISBN 978-0-984-01736-2. OCLC 961156137.
  3. ^ "Guide to the Jaime Davidovich Collection, 1953-2000 (MSS 155)" (Finding aid). Fales Library and Special Collections. New York University. 25 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Jaime Davidovich - CV" (PDF). Henrique Faria Fine Art.
  5. ^ "Jaime Davidovich - Bio" (PDF). Churner and Churner. January 2012.
  6. ^ "Jamie Davidovich". Electronic Arts Intermix. Archived from the original on 21 January 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
  7. ^ Quagliata, Gail (July–August 2012). "Jaime Davidovich: Re: PLAY". The Brooklyn Rail.
  8. ^ NYU's Fales Library and Special Collections guide to the Jaime Davidovich Papers Archived 2009-11-20 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]