National Museum of Women in the Arts
Eleanor Antin
February 27 1935 - present
Photograph of Eleanor Antin, courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, NY, USA
Place of Birth:
New York
Phonetic Spelling:
EL-eh-nohr ANN-tin
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Drawings and prints, Multimedia (electronic, digital, video, film), Painting, Performance Art , Photography
Artistic Role(s):
Assemblage Artist, Body Artist, Director (Film), Draftsperson, Filmmaker, Installation Artist, Painter, Performance Artist, Photographer, Video Artist
Conceptual Art, Feminist Art
Artist's Biography:
As one of the first American feminist artists to emerge in the 1960s, Eleanor Antin has created an immense body of work spanning a variety of avant-garde artistic genres. Her pioneering work in performance, video, and installation can be described as both conceptual and feminist, with the focal-point of her pieces centered on the exploration of self. Using her body as an avenue for expression, Antin incorporates both autobiography and the creation of other personas into her performances on life, art, and civilization. While her work is characterized by an innate theatricality, Antin also uses photography, assemblage, literature, and history in order to confront and represent issues she finds meaningful.

Performance and theater have formed the foundation of Antin’s artistic practice throughout her career. Born as Eleanor Fineman in 1935, she studied at New York’s Tamara Daykarhanova School for the Stage from 1954 to 1956. Before turning to the visual arts, she worked as a professional actress under the pseudonym Eleanor Barrett, while also studying creative writing and art at The City College of New York.

Antin began her career in the visual arts in the early 1960s working as a painter in New York. Her work was influenced by Abstract Expressionism and Pop art. In 1968, Antin moved to Southern California where she became engaged with women’s issues causing her work to shift towards an investigation of gender roles and self-representation. In her performance-based pieces of the 1970s and 1980s, Antin developed three distinct personas – the King, the Nurse, and the Ballerina – and devoted herself completely to the character portrayal (the Ballerina’s story occupying her work for over a decade). Each of these diverse personalities contributed to the discourse of gender and ethnic stereotypes, power relations, and the state of modern American culture.

Over the four decades of her career, Antin has continued to develop new perspectives and contexts within Conceptual Art. As a professor at the University of California, San Diego since 1979, Antin has encouraged numerous students to question modern society. Her position as an artistic innovator has been recognized through major retrospectives in the United States and England, while her contributions have been honored with awards from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. In 2006, Antin was the recipient of a Women's Caucus for Art's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Other Occupation(s):
Actor, Author, Feminist, Lecturer, Poet, Producer, Professor, Writer
Place(s) of Residence:
New York
San Diego
Where Trained/Schools:
The City College of New York, New York, NY, USA (ca. 1958) Tamara Daykarhanova School for the Stage, New York, NY, USA (1954-1956)
Related Visual Artists:
friend of Martha Rosler friend of Hung Liu colleague of Ida Applebroog influenced by Marcel Duchamp
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Lifetime Achievement Award, Women's Caucus for Art, New York, NY, USA (2006) Media Achievement Award, National Foundation for Jewish Culture, New York, NY, USA (1998) Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York, NY, USA (1997)
Earliest exhibition:
Long Island University, New York, NY, USA (1968)
NMWA exhibition(s):
The First Generation: Women and Video, 1970-75
WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution
Artist retrospective(s):
Eleanor Antin: Real Time Streaming, Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Warwick, England (2001) Eleanor Antin: A Retrospective, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis, MO, USA (2000) Eleanor Antin, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA (1999)