Dennis Oppenheim died on Saturday the 22nd Jan 2010 aged 72. His impact on contemporary art particularly in relation to challenging the supremacy of the gallery as the accepted context of art during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s should not be underestimated. Along with the likes of Gordon Matta-Clark, Michael Heizer and Robert Smithson, Oppenheim broke out of and deconstructed the gallery (literally in some cases) in pursuit of alternative or new context for art.
“Dennis Oppenheim came to the forefront of the American art-world in 1968, taking his taking his place in the Earth Art movement. At the time the idea of the site was uppermost in his work. Site Markers Fig I, II, III document Oppenheims early excursions into the landscape of New York. Made in 1967, the works were executed by finding a site in the urban landscape, documenting its location. In all ten sites were documented and ten aluminium marker stakes were manufactured and engraved with a number corresponding to each of the 10 sites. The stakes (contained within individual fitted sacks) along with the photographic documentation (rolled in a clear plastic tube) were then exhibited. It would easy to assume that these objects are the most important aspect of the work, yet the artists main concern is the site itself. What Oppenheim has done is claim the site as a context for art, an alternative to the gallery. As the art movements which proceeded Oppenheim had set themselves apart from the real world here the artist locates himself and his concerns firmly with it.” Excerpt from Dissertation: A Holligan Jan 1996.
Other notable works of the period include:
Boundary Split: http://www.dennis-oppenheim.com/early-work/9
Forrest Floor Removal: http://www.dennis-oppenheim.com/early-work/10
Gallery Decomposition: http://www.dennis-oppenheim.com/works/11
Annual Rings: http://www.dennis-oppenheim.com/early-work/8