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Lucy R. Lippard

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Lucy R. Lippard
Born (1937-04-14) April 14, 1937 (age 87)
New York City, US[1]
AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship (1968), CAA Frank Jewett Mather Award for Criticism (1975), CAA Distinguished Feminist Award (2012), CAA Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing on Art (2015)

Lucy Rowland Lippard (born April 14, 1937) is an American writer, art critic, activist, and curator. Lippard was among the first writers to argue for the "dematerialization" at work in conceptual art and was an early champion of feminist art. She is the author of 26 books[2] on contemporary art and has received numerous awards and accolades from literary critics and art associations.

Early life and education[edit]

Lucy Lippard was born in New York City and lived in New Orleans and Charlottesville, Virginia, before enrolling at Abbot Academy in 1952. Her father, Vernon W. Lippard, a pediatrician, became assistant dean at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1939, followed by appointments as dean of Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans and then, the same position at the University of Virginia. From 1952 to 1967, he was dean of his alma mater, Yale School of Medicine.[3] She graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in 1958. She went on to earn an M.A. in art history in 1962 from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.[4]

Just out of college, Lippard began working in the library at the Museum of Modern Art in 1958 where, in addition to reshelving the library after a fire, she was "farmed out" to do research for curators.[5] She credits these years of working at MoMA, paging, filing, and researching, with preparing her "well for the archival, informational aspect of conceptual art."[6] At MoMA she worked with curators such as Bill Lieberman, Bill Seitz and Peter Selz.[5] By 1966, she had curated two traveling exhibitions for MoMA, one on "soft sculpture" and one on Max Ernst, as well as worked with Kynaston McShine on Primary Structures before he was hired by the Jewish Museum, taking the show with him.[5] It was at MoMA that Lippard met Sol LeWitt who was working the night desk; John Button, Dan Flavin, Al Held, Robert Mangold, and Robert Ryman all held positions at the museum during this time as well.[5]

In 1960, she married then-emerging painter Robert Ryman, who worked at MoMA as a museum guard from 1953 until 1960. Before divorcing six years later, the couple had one child, Ethan Ryman, who eventually became an artist himself.[7]


In 1966, Lucy Lippard organized the exhibition Eccentric Abstraction at Fischback Gallery in New York. With this exhibition, Lippard brought together a group of abstract artists which included Alice Adams, Louise Bourgeois, Lindsey Decker, Eva Hesse, Gary Kuehn, Bruce Nauman, Keith Sonnier, and more.[8] The exhibition focussed on the ‘use of organic abstract form in sculpture evoking the gendered body through an emphasis on process and materials.’ Lippard referred to eccentric abstraction as a “non-sculptural style,” which was closer to abstract painting than to sculpture.[9]

Lucy Lippard was a member of the populist political artist group known as the Art Workers Coalition, or AWC, which was founded in New York City in 1969.[10] Her involvement in the AWC as well as a trip she took to Argentina—such trips bolstered the political motivations of many feminists of the time—influenced a change in the focus of her criticism, from formalist subjects to more feministic ones.[11] Lucy Lippard is also believed to be a co-founder of West-East Bag, an international women artist network which was founded in 1971, in the early beginnings of the feminist art movement in the United States. Their newsletter W.E.B. mentioned tactics used against museums to protest the lack of female representation in museum collections and exhibitions. The group was dissolved in 1973.[12]

In 1975, Lippard travelled to Australia and spoke to groups of women artists in Melbourne and Adelaide about the creation of archives of women artists' work on photographic slides, known as slide registers, by West-East Bag, the idea being to counteract their lack of showings in art galleries. Lippard was a major influence in the establishment of the Women's Art Movement in Australia,[13] and developed a friendship with leading proponent Vivienne Binns, who later visited New York.[14]

In 1976, Lucy Lippard published a monographic work on the sculptor Eva Hesse combining biography and criticism, formal analysis and psychological readings to tell the story of her life and career. The book was designed by Hesse’s friend and colleague, Sol LeWitt. Each of her seventy sculptures and many of her drawings are reproduced and discussed within the book. Being a long-time friend of Hesse, Lippard treads a fine line between public and private life. She writes about the achievements and many struggles in Hesse’s life that had an impact on who she was as a person. Eva Hesse was born in 1936, in Germany, but because of her Jewish upbringing she and her family were forced to flee from the Nazi regime in 1938, arriving in New York in 1939. During their flight, Hesse’s father kept diaries of the journey for each of the children, a habit Hesse returned to later in her life. In these diaries she talked about the struggles in her life. Hesse is an American artist known for her innovative use of materials in her sculptures, such as fibreglass, latex and plastics. This innovative use of ‘soft’ materials, have become an inspiration source for a younger generation of women artists. Lippard further writes that although Hesse died before feminism affected the art world, she was well aware of the manner in which her experience as a woman altered her art and her career. In writing this important work on Eva Hesse, Lucy Lippard has tapped into her knowledge of and passion for feminism, particularly within the art world. Although the book is long out-of-print, this classic text remains both an insightful critical analysis and a tribute to an important female artist ‘whose genius has become increasingly apparent with the passage of time.’[12]

Since 1966, Lippard has published 26 books—including one novel and one autobiography—on feminism, art, politics and place.[4] She has received numerous awards and accolades from literary critics and art associations.[15] A 2012 exhibition on her seminal book, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object at the Brooklyn Museum, titled "Six Years": Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art", cites Lippard's scholarship as its point of entry into a discussion about conceptual art during its era of emergence, demonstrating her crucial role in the contemporary understanding of this period of art production and criticism.[16]

Co-founder of Printed Matter, Inc (an art bookstore in New York City centered on artist's books), the Heresies Collective, Political Art Documentation/Distribution (PAD/D), Artists Call Against U.S. Intervention in Central America, and other artists' organizations, she has also curated over 50 exhibitions, made performances, comics, guerrilla theater, and edited several independent publications, including the decidedly local La Puente de Galisteo from her home community in Galisteo, New Mexico, where she moved in the early 1990s.[17][18] She has infused aesthetics with politics, and disdained disinterestedness for ethical activism.[19][20]

She was interviewed for the film !Women Art Revolution.[21]

In 2023, she published an autobiography, Stuff: Instead of a Memoir.[22]

Selected honors and awards[edit]

Lippard holds nine honorary doctorates of fine arts,[23] of which some are listed below.

Selected exhibitions[edit]

  • Eccentric Abstraction, Fischbach Gallery, New York, 1966
  • Rejective Art, organized by the American Federation of Arts, New York, traveled to three US venues in 1967-8
  • Number 7, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, 1969
  • 557,087, Seattle World's Fair Pavilion, September 1969
  • 955,000, Vancouver Art Gallery, 1970
  • 2,972,453, Centro de Arte y Communicacion, Buenos Aires, 1971
  • c.7,500, CalArts, Valencia, CA, traveling throughout US and Europe, 1973–1974


Selected publications[edit]

  • Stuff: Instead of a Memoir. New York: New Village Press. 2023. ISBN 9781613322246
  • Undermining: A Wild Ride Through Land Use, Politics, and Art in the Changing West. New York: The New Press. 2014. ISBN 9781595586193
  • 4,492,040. Los Angeles: New Documents. 2012. ISBN 9781927354001
  • Weather Report. Boulder, C.O.: Boulder Museum of Contemporary Arts. 2007. ISBN 0979900700
  • On the beaten track: tourism, art and place. New York: New Press. 1999. ISBN 1565844548
  • The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society. New York: New Press. 1998. ISBN 1565842480
  • The Pink Glass Swan. New York: New Press, 1995. ISBN 1565842138
  • Mixed blessings: new art in a multicultural America. New York: Pantheon Books. 1990. ISBN 0394577590
  • A different war: Vietnam in art. Bellingham, Wash: Whatcom Museum of History and Art. 1990. ISBN 0941104435
  • "Trojan Horses: Activist Art and Power." Art After Modernism: Rethinking Representation, edited by Brian Wallis. Boston, M.A.: David R. Godine. 1985. ISBN 0879235632
  • Get the message?: a decade of art for social change. New York: E.P. Dutton. 1984 ISBN 0525480374
  • Overlay: contemporary art and the art of prehistory. New York: Pantheon Books. 1983 ISBN 0394518128
  • I See / You Mean. Los Angeles: Chrysalis Books. 1979. Reprint, Los Angeles: New Documents. 2021. ISBN 9781953441034
  • Eva Hesse. New York: New York University Press. 1976.
  • From the center: feminist essays on women's art. New York: Dutton. 1976.ISBN 0525474277
  • Six years: the dematerialization of the art object from 1966 to 1972; a cross-reference book of information on some esthetic boundaries. New York: Praeger. 1973. ISBN 0289703328
  • Changing: essays in art criticism. New York: Dutton. 1971.ISBN 0525079424
  • Surrealists on art. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. 1970. ISBN 0138780900
  • Pop art. New York: Praeger. 1966.
  • The Graphic Work of Philip Evergood. New York: Crown, 1966.

See also[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Anon (2018). "Artist, Curator & Critic Interviews". !Women Art Revolution - Spotlight at Stanford. Archived from the original on March 26, 2018. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  • "Biography – Lippard, Lucy R. (1937-): An article from: Contemporary Authors." HTML digital publication
  • Parallaxis: fifty-five points to view : a conversation with Lucy R. Lippard and Rina Swentzell. Denver, CO : Western States Arts Federation, 1996.
  • Bonin, Vincent. Materializing Six Years: Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012. ISBN 9780262018166
  • Butler, Cornelia H. From Conceptualism to Feminism: Lucy R. Lippard's Numbers Shows, 1969-74. London: Afterall Books, 2012. ISBN 9783863351021


  1. ^ Biography at arthistorians.info
  2. ^ "Stuff".
  3. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (24 December 1984). "V.w. Lippard, Ex-Yale Dean". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b "Pioneering Author, Activist, Critic, and Curator Lucy Lippard to Receive Honorary Degree". OTIS College of Art and Design. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d Obrist, Hans Ulrich (2008). A Brief History of Curating. Zurich: JRP Ringier. ISBN 9783905829556.
  6. ^ a b Lippard, Lucy R. (2009). "Curating by Numbers". Tate Papers (12).
  7. ^ Smith, Roberta (9 February 2019). "Robert Ryman, Minimalist Painter Who Made the Most of White, Dies at 88". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Antin, David (November 1966). "Eccentric Abstraction". Vol. 5, no. 3. Artforum. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
  9. ^ Kurczynski, Karen (2011). "Eccentric Abstraction". Grove Art Online. doi:10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T2094214.
  10. ^ "Art Workers' Coalition | Repensar Guernica". guernica.museoreinasofia.es. Retrieved 2023-10-01.
  11. ^ Bryan-Wilson, Julia (2009). Art Workers : Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 129.
  12. ^ a b Lippard, Lucy (1976). Eva Hesse. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 0814749720.
  13. ^ Moore, Catriona; Speck, Catherine (2019). "Chapter 5: How the personal became (and remains) political in the visual arts". In Arrow, Michelle; Woollacott, Angela (eds.). Everyday Revolutions: Remaking Gender, Sexuality and Culture in 1970s Australia. doi:10.22459/ER.2019. ISBN 9781760462970. S2CID 149614750. Retrieved 9 February 2022 – via ANU.
  14. ^ Binns, Vivienne (9 February 2022). "The radical work of Vivienne Binns" (Audio + text). ABC Radio National (Interview). The Art Show. Interviewed by Browning, Daniel. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  15. ^ "LUCY LIPPARD - Alvarez Gallery". 2022-09-09. Retrieved 2023-10-01.
  16. ^ "Six Years": Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art"
  17. ^ a b Finding Aid to the Lucy R. Lippard Papers, 1940s-2006, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 4 Nov 2013.
  18. ^ Abatemarco, Michael (2021-01-22). "The road to Galisteo: Arts writer, critic, and activist Lucy Lippard". Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved 2023-10-01.
  19. ^ "Why Conceptual and Feminist Art Would Not Have Been the Same without Lucy Lippard | Widewalls". www.widewalls.ch. Retrieved 2023-10-01.
  20. ^ "Lippard, Lucy R. | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2023-10-01.
  21. ^ Anon 2018
  22. ^ "Read an Excerpt of Lucy Lippard's Newest Book, Stuff: Instead of a Memoir". 11 September 2023.
  23. ^ "Lucy R. Lippard | The New Press". The New Press. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  24. ^ Association, College Art. "Awards for Distinction | Programs | CAA". www.collegeart.org. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  25. ^ "Honorary Degrees". Otis College of Art and Design. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  26. ^ "Why Lucy Lippard Never Gets Writer's Block". Hyperallergic. 2013-10-31. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  27. ^ Association, College Art. "Awards for Distinction | Programs | CAA". www.collegeart.org. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  28. ^ Association, College Art. "Awards for Distinction | Programs | CAA". www.collegeart.org. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  29. ^ "Process of Attrition: AMARCORD:Number Shows" Archived 2014-01-09 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  30. ^ "From Conceptualism to Feminism." Afterall Book Review.

External links[edit]