Cellist, Catalyst, Collaborator: The Work of Charlotte Moorman, 1963-1980


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art History


When classically trained cellist Charlotte Moorman (1933-1991) moved to New York City in 1957, she swiftly positioned herself at the intersection of experimental music, performance, video, and the visual arts. She interpreted works by composers like John Cage, collaborated with artists such as Nam June Paik, and founded and organized the New York Avant Garde Festival from 1963 to 1980. This dissertation argues that Moorman’s career sheds new light on what it meant to be an artist in this post-medium-specific moment. Long overlooked, the generative dynamics of her collaborations with Cage, Paik, and festival participants suggest new models for valuing catalytic creativity in an art world increasingly marked by performance-oriented, open-structured, and participatory practices.