David Hudson at The Criterion Collection:
Any attempt to neatly sum up the work of Carolee Schneemann, the painter, filmmaker, writer, and performance and installation artist who has passed away at the age of seventy-nine, will likely be a futile exercise. But in 2016, in a piece for the New York Times on Schneemann’s influence on artists as varied as Matthew Barney, Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson, and Lena Dunham, Hillarie M. Sheets gave it a go, arguing that the “essential question her work posed early on was, Can a naked woman be both image and image-maker?”
Schneemann aimed to reclaim the female body, starting with her own, from the objectification ingrained over centuries of art history. Her father was a doctor, and as a young girl, she not only pored over his anatomy books but also drew bodies in motion on his spare prescription pads. While studying art at Bard College in the 1950s, she was free to pose nude for the male students but was suspended for painting herself without clothes on. By the early ’60s, she was hanging with Yoko One and other Fluxus artists, dropping in on Andy Warhol’s Factory, and taking part in performance works by Claes Oldenberg and Robert Morris, while her partner, the composer and music theorist James Tenney, introduced her to the likes of Philip Glass, Terry Riley, and Steve Reich.