Carolee Schneemann: ‘I never thought I was shocking’

In 1968, Carolee Schneemann caused outrage in Britain simply by giving a talk about art. “I wore farmers overalls,” she says, “and I had lots of oranges stuffed everywhere. It was about Cézanne, so I showed slides and talked about his influence – and I kept undressing and dressing. I was naked under my overalls and I’d throw these oranges into the audience, like a still life escaping. Then I’d do my overalls back up and continue the lecture.”

The audience, at the ICA in London, did not appreciate the 29-year-old artist’s approach. “They went a bit nuts,” Schneemann recalls. “They were outraged, ‘This is infuriating! What does this mean? How can she be naked and talk about art history?’ But that was the point.”


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