via Artnet News, 4/7/06:
ALLAN KAPROW, 1927-2006
Allan Kaprow, 78, painter and assemblage artist who invented the Happening, died peacefully at his home in Encinitas, Ca., on Apr. 5. A student of Hans Hofmann, Kaprow co-founded the co-op Hansa Gallery on East 10th Street in Manhattan in 1952, where he showed his early "action-collage" paintings including all kinds of raw materials as well as flashing lights. By 1957-58 he had begun making total environments that "pointed the way to a new form of art in which action would predominate over painting." The first Happening, titled 18 Happenings in 6 Parts, took place in October 1959 at the Reuben Gallery on Fourth Avenue. He filled the courtyard of the Martha Jackson Gallery with used tires for Yard in 1961, and for the 1963 exhibition "Hans Hofmann and His Students" at the Museum of Modern Art, he installed two furnished rooms that could be rearranged by visitors. He had major survey exhibitions at the Pasadena Art Museum (1967), the Bremen Kunst Museum (1976), Fondazione Mudima in Milan (1991), Galerie Donguy in Paris (1992) and the John Gibson Gallery in New York (1995). He was professor emeritus at the University of California San Diego.
via NYTimes (AP, 4/7/06):
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Allan Kaprow, an artist who in the 1950s pioneered an unrehearsed, nonverbal form of theater called a ''happening'' that was intended to shatter the boundary between art and life, died Wednesday at his home in the San Diego suburb of Encinitas. He was 78.
Kaprow taught for years at the University of California, San Diego. He had been ill for some time and died of natural causes, said friend Tamara Bloomberg.
Kaprow's ''happenings'' took place in real-life settings and involved unrelated or bizarre scenes acted out by any willing participant. The audience was people who just happened to be there.
A typical Kaprow happening involved people standing around Times Square in New York, waiting for a signal from a window. When the signal arrived, they were directed to fall down on the sidewalk. Then they were loaded into a truck and driven away.
Born in 1927 in Atlantic City, N.J., Kaprow called himself an ''un-artist.'' He was primarily a painter and sculptor.
After studying with composer John Cage, he decided to begin staging happenings in 1958. He later filled a courtyard with tires, and, in Berlin, constructed a cinderblock wall with bread and jam as mortar and then knocked it down.