Laurie Anderson

(b. 1947)

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(1947– )

American Performance artist, poet, and musician, born in Chicago, the daughter of a wealthy paint manufacturer. In 1967 she moved to New York, where she gained a BA in art history from Barnard College in 1969 and an MFA from Columbia University (where she trained in painting and sculpture) in 1972. She also studied privately with Sol LeWitt. In 1972 she gave her first performance piece, Automotive, an outdoor concert for car horns, and by 1976 was well known in the USA and Europe. Her performances include numerous audio and visual effects (including slide projection and films) combined with spoken and sung elements (she is a singer and violinist, and since 1974 has been making her own instruments, notably a modified violin with an internal loudspeaker). Her sense of humour and endearing stage presence have been much admired. Anderson's major work is United States, ‘an eight-hour opus of song, narrative and sleights of hand and eye’ (RoseLee Goldberg, Performance Art, 1988). It is in four parts, and was first performed complete in 1983 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music over two nights. A song from the show, ‘O Superman’, was released on record in 1981 and got to number 2 in the British singles' chart. Her first album, Big Science, was released in 1982. In 1997 she was director of the Meltdown Festival in London, an annual concert series that specializes in unusual musical events and collaborations.

Subjects: Art.

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