Topless Cellist: The Improbable Life Of Charlotte Moorman by Joan RothfussTopless Cellist: The Improbable Life Of Charlotte Moorman by Joan Rothfuss

Topless Cellist: The Improbable Life Of Charlotte Moorman

byJoan RothfussForeword byYoko Ono

Paperback | March 3, 2017

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The first book to explore the extraordinary career of musician and performance artist Charlotte Moorman, whose work combined classical rigor, avant-garde experiment, and madcap daring.

The Juilliard-trained cellist Charlotte Moorman sat nude behind a cello of carved ice, performed while dangling from helium-filled balloons, and deployed an array of instruments on The Mike Douglas Show that included her cello, a whistle, a cap gun, a gong, and a belch. She did a striptease while playing Bach in Nam June Paik's Sonata for Adults Only. In the 1960s, Moorman (1933-1991) became famous for her madcap (and often unclothed) performance antics; less famous but more significant is Moorman's transformative influence on contemporary performance practice-and her dedication to the idea that avant-garde art should reach the widest possible audience. In Topless Cellist, the first book to explore Moorman's life and work, Joan Rothfuss rediscovers, and recovers, the legacy of an extraordinary American artist.

Moorman's arrest in 1967 for performing topless made her a water-cooler conversation-starter, but before her tabloid fame she was a star of the avant-garde performance circuit, with a repertoire of pieces by, among others, Yoko Ono, Joseph Beuys, John Cage, and Paik, her main artistic partner. Moorman invented a new mode of performance that combined classical rigor, jazz improvisation, and avant-garde experiment-informed by intuition, daring, and love of spectacle. Moorman's annual festival of the avant-garde offered the public a lively sampler of contemporary art in performance, music, dance, poetry, film, and other media.

Rothfuss chronicles Moorman's life from her youth in Little Rock, Arkansas (where she was "Miss City Beautiful" of 1952) through her career in New York's avant-garde to her death from breast cancer in 1991. (Typically, she approached her treatment as if it were a performance.) Deeply researched and profusely illustrated, Topless Cellist offers a fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious story of an artist whose importance was more than the sum of her performances.

Joan Rothfuss is an independent writer and curator based in Minneapolis.
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Title:Topless Cellist: The Improbable Life Of Charlotte MoormanFormat:PaperbackDimensions:464 pages, 9 × 7 × 1 inPublished:March 3, 2017Publisher:The MIT PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262533588

ISBN - 13:9780262533584

Reviews

Editorial Reviews

The first book to explore the extraordinary career of musician and performance artist Charlotte Moorman, whose work combined classical rigor, avant-garde experiment, and madcap daring.The Juilliard-trained cellist Charlotte Moorman sat nude behind a cello of carved ice, performed while dangling from helium-filled balloons, and deployed an array of instruments on The Mike Douglas Show that included her cello, a whistle, a cap gun, a gong, and a belch. She did a striptease while playing Bach in Nam June Paik's Sonata for Adults Only. In the 1960s, Moorman (1933-1991) became famous for her madcap (and often unclothed) performance antics; less famous but more significant is Moorman's transformative influence on contemporary performance practice-and her dedication to the idea that avant-garde art should reach the widest possible audience. In Topless Cellist, the first book to explore Moorman's life and work, Joan Rothfuss rediscovers, and recovers, the legacy of an extraordinary American artist. Moorman's arrest in 1967 for performing topless made her a water-cooler conversation-starter, but before her tabloid fame she was a star of the avant-garde performance circuit, with a repertoire of pieces by, among others, Yoko Ono, Joseph Beuys, John Cage, and Paik, her main artistic partner. Moorman invented a new mode of performance that combined classical rigor, jazz improvisation, and avant-garde experiment-informed by intuition, daring, and love of spectacle. Moorman's annual festival of the avant-garde offered the public a lively sampler of contemporary art in performance, music, dance, poetry, film, and other media.Rothfuss chronicles Moorman's life from her youth in Little Rock, Arkansas (where she was "Miss City Beautiful" of 1952) through her career in New York's avant-garde to her death from breast cancer in 1991. (Typically, she approached her treatment as if it were a performance.) Deeply researched and profusely illustrated, Topless Cellist offers a fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious story of an artist whose importance was more than the sum of her performances.Charlotte Moorman, a classically trained cellist, was an intrepid international icon of the avant-garde, whether being arrested while performing Nam June Paik's Opera Sextronique topless, appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, or performing Sky Kiss aloft with her cello suspended by balloons outside the Sydney Opera House. She was also the tireless, grassroots impresaria who organized the annual New York Avant Garde Festivals involving hundreds of jazz, electronic, and avant-classical musicians, poets, dancers, performance artists, and filmmakers, taking the most radical arts out of wayward spaces into the public arena. Joan Rothfuss's excellent biography opens a wonderful window on the arts of the time. She takes us from the young girl in Little Rock, Arkansas, to the woman who died too young, performing her own protracted illness and impending death. On every page between we are given the human being behind the icon.-Douglas Kahn, Professor at National Institute for Experimental Arts, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney; author of Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts and Earth Sound Earth Signal