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Lucas Samaras

Working in mulit-medias and multi modernist styles, Lucas Samaras is both artist and theoretician who regards his life as an art object. In his work, Lucas Samaras has combined Performance Art, and many forms of abstraction including post-Dadaism, post-Surrealism, and post-Abstract Expressionism. In 1959, Lucas Samaras took part in the earliest “Happenings” led by Allan Kaprow, in which the audience participated with the artist in disconnected-seeming events. Kaprow described a “Happening” as an “assemblage of events” (Atkins 103)

Lucas Samaras has created assemblage figures and textured boxes from pins, nails, screws, cloth and plaster as well as erotic-seeming forms from wood, pins and rope. Of these objects Lucas Samaras has said that he felt he could rescue ruined and useless things and give them dignity. He often inserts photos of himself, and as his career has progressed. Lucas Samaras has focused increasingly on himself as a subject. In 1965, Lucas Samaras made a mirrored room, which made it easier to observe himself. 1969, Lucas Samaras made a film titled “Self”. The persistent use of himself as a subject has led one critic to remark that “Samaras’s almost obsessional self-observation extends past narcissism toward a physical understanding of himself.” (Getty)

Lucas Samaras was born in Kastoria, Greece in 1936, and came to America in 1948 when he was twelve years old. From 1955 to 1959, Lucas Samaras attended Rutgers University and there met George Segal, the sculptor who used white plaster, and studied with Allan Kaprow and Robert Whitman, both pioneers of “Happenings”. Between 1959 and 1962, Lucas Samaras studied art history at Columbia University.

Sources include:
Matthew Baigell, Dictionary of American Artists
Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
Robert Atkins, Art Speak
The Getty website
Encyclopedia website

Biography from the Archives of AskART.