Janine Antoni

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Janine Antoni
Born (1964-01-19) January 19, 1964 (age 55)
EducationSarah Lawrence College,
Rhode Island School of Design
Known forPerformance art, Sculpture,
Installation art
AwardsMacArthur Genius Grant

Janine Antoni (born January 19, 1964) is a contemporary artist who creates work in performance art, sculpture, and photography. Antoni's works focus mostly on process and the transitions between the making and finished product. She often uses her body, both as an entity, or paying particular attention to body parts as tools, utilizing her mouth, hair, eyelashes, and, through technological scanning, the brain, to perform everyday activities to create her artwork. Her work blurs the distinction between performance art and sculpture. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Antoni was born January 19, 1964 in Freeport, Bahamas.[2] She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1986 with a B.A., and from the Rhode Island School of Design with an M.F.A. in 1989.[1]


In her work Gnaw (1992), Antoni used her mouth and the activity of eating or chewing to carve two 600 lb (300 kg) cubes, one made of chocolate and the other of lard. She used the chewed out bits to create chocolate boxes and lipstick tubes, which she then displayed in a mock store front. Antoni made a statement about her work saying "Lard is a stand-in for the female body, a feminine material, since females typically have a higher fat content than males, making the work somewhat cannibalistic".[3] In this work and others, Antoni often confronts issues such as materiality, process, the body, cultural perceptions of femininity, and her art historical roots.[4]

In Loving Care (1993), Antoni used her hair as a paintbrush and Loving Care hair dye as her paint. Antoni dipped her hair in a bucket of hair dye and mopped the gallery floor on her hands and knees and in the process pushed the viewers out of the gallery space.[5] In this process Antoni explored the body, as well as themes of power, femininity, and the style of abstract expressionism. Her performance was at the Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, in 1993.[6]

Tableaux vivants are another art form that Antoni has used. In her installation Slumber (1994) Antoni slept in the gallery for 28 days. While she did, an EEG machine recorded her REM patterns, which she then wove into a blanket from the night gown under which she slept. This particular work was seen as a tableau vivant because of its spectacle aspect:

The aspirational focus of this tableau vivant, while situating the artist as an object on view, simulataneously [sic] insists on an aesthetics of connections: between the artist and beholders, between the artists [sic] and the art institutions, and between the artist's conscious and unconscious processes.[7]

In Eureka (1993), Antoni created a body cast of herself in a bathtub made from lard, soap, Corian soap.

In Lick and Lather (1993), Antoni produced fourteen busts, seven cast from chocolate and the other seven from soap. She then "re-sculpts" the busts by eating them (chocolate) and bathing herself (soap) as the title suggests.[8] The installation critiques notions of feminine beauty and hygiene, suggested by the extreme manner that many of the busts' features become distorted through Antoni's actions. The soap represents the societal expectation that the female body must be perpetually cleaned, while the chocolate brings to mind stereotypical depictions of female menstrual cravings[9]

In Butterfly Kisses (1996-1999), she covered a canvas 32 1/4 x 32 1/4 inches with marks made by batting her eyelashes covered in Cover Girl Thick Lash Mascara. In this process Antoni explores the body as a means of creating art.

In To Draw a Line (2003), Antoni created a sculpture using 4000 lbs. of Raw Hemp Fiber, 120 feet of hand made Hemp Rope spliced into 1200 feet of Machine made Hemp Rope, 2 Recycled Steel Reels, 140 Lead Ingots with a total weight of 13,300 lbs, 2 Steel Ramps with a 20% incline, 4 Steel and Rubber Laminated chocks. It is 35 x 20 x 10 feet.[10]

In Tear, Antoni created a wrecking ball in lead and then used it to demolish a building synchronised with the blinking of her eyelid. Each impact damaged the surface of the ball, thus telling its history. The work is currently installed at the Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York.[11][12]

Another important component of this work was Antoni's ability to communicate directly with the museum-goers. Antoni explains this desire to be involved in the viewer's experience when she writes:

[Performance] wasn't something that I intended to do. I was doing work that was about process, about the meaning of the making, trying to have a love-hate relationship with the object. I always feel safer if I can bring the viewer back to the making of it. I try to do that in a lot of different ways, by residue, by touch, by these processes that are basic to all of our lives... that people might relate to in terms of process... everyday activities--bathing, eating, etc. But there are times when the best way to keep people in that place, which for me is so alive and pertinent, is to show the process or the making.[5]

[13] In her show Move: Choreographing You, Antoni interacted with her audience by slipping them a mysterious note that read: "The minute you saw me, you came straight over and then stopped. As if you couldn’t think and move at the same time, it seemed that you’d come to some conclusion because your thoughts started to lead you with such intensity. It was as though you had taken me into your body, I remained still, quietly absorbing my surrender to your desire. You came so close to me that I felt the breeze of your movement on my surface. Swept away by your burning attention, I felt as if I was made for you. I was completed by your presence. Will you carry me in your memory? Or is that too much to ask?"

She says of this performer/audience interaction: "This letter sums up my relationship to my audience. I have a deep love for the viewer; they are my imaginary friend."[14]

Antoni has cited Louise Bourgeois as a strong artistic influence, referring to Bourgeois as her 'art mother.' [15] She works as a mentor at Columbia University School of the Arts.[16]



  1. ^ a b "Janine Antoni - CV", Artist's website, JanineAntoni.net, Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Collection Online | Janine Antoni - Guggenheim Museum". Guggenheim.org. 1964-01-19. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "The Collection | Janine Antoni. Gnaw. 1992". MoMA. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  5. ^ a b [2] Archived April 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Events | Cornell AAP". Aap.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  7. ^ Jennifer Fisher. "Interdependence: The Live Tableaux of Suzanne Lacy, Janine Antoni, and Marina Abramović." Art Journal. vol. 56, no. 4 (winter, 1997), 28–33.
  8. ^ "Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Self-Destructing Chocolate Head". ARTnews. 2013-02-21. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  9. ^ Doss, Erika (2002). Twentieth-Century American Art. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 230. ISBN 9780192842398.
  10. ^ "Janine Antoni". Luhring Augustine. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  11. ^ Dreishpoon, Douglas. "Janine Antoni". Art in America. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Tear, 2008". Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York. Archived from the original on 13 February 2014.
  13. ^ "Janine Antoni | Art21". PBS. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  14. ^ Allison, Leslie. "UTOPIAN STRATEGIES: Artists Anticipate their Audiences". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  15. ^ Heartney, Eleanor; Posner, Helaine; Princenthal, Nancy; Scott, Sue (2013). The reckoning : women artists of the new millennium. Munich: Prestel. p. 79. ISBN 978-3-7913-4759-2.
  16. ^ [3] Archived January 28, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Janine Antoni - MacArthur Foundation", MacArthur Foundation, Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  18. ^ "Janine Antoni - Aldrich Award", Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  19. ^ "Janine Antoni - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Gf.org. 2009-10-23. Archived from the original on 2013-10-03. Retrieved 2014-07-30.

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