Michael Smith (performance artist)

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Michael Smith
Born (1951-03-08) March 8, 1951 (age 68)
EducationColorado College; Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program
Known forvideo installation performance
AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship (1985); four National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Fellowships (1978, '82, '88, '91)

Michael Smith (born 1951) is an American artist born in Chicago, in 1951. He is an influential figure in performance art, video art, and installation art. In the 1980s, he was perceived as "the quirky Ed Sullivan" of the time.[1]


He is best known for his performance persona named Mike, the central figure in an ongoing series of narrative projects. Mike, an innocent character who continually falls victim to trends and fashions and his own naive ambitions, allows Smith to comment on discrepancies and absurdities in American culture while creating an unsettling and poignant mixture of humor and pathos. In a 1982 interview, Smith had once commented on his work "I’m more interested in getting a feeling across to somebody than an idea. I was interested in getting ideas across when I first started performing but I’m not too interested in that now."[2]


Michael Smith received his Bachelor of Arts from Colorado College and attended the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. He currently teaches in the Transmedia Area in the Department of Art + Art History at the University of Texas at Austin. He has taught in the Master of Fine Arts programs at Yale, the Cranbrook Academy of Art, UCLA, Art Center College of Design, Columbia University, and CalArts. He has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1985), and four National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Fellowships (1978, '82, '88, '91).


Smith has shown his work extensively around the US, Canada and Europe at a variety of venues including museums, galleries, universities, festivals, night clubs, on television and on the street. In New York City he has had solo shows and screenings at the Whitney Museum, The New Museum, the Leo Castelli Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art.


  1. ^ "Enter Laughing". New York Magazine. Sep 21, 1987. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  2. ^ Hochschild, Mary, "Michael Smith Interview", BOMB Magazine, Winter, 1982

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