Imaging Her Erotics

From Writing Art

Imaging Her Erotics

Essays, Interviews, Projects

By Carolee Schneemann

A visual and written record of the work of pioneer painter-performance artist Carolee Scheemann.





A visual and written record of the work of pioneer painter-performance artist Carolee Scheemann.

Carolee Schneemann is one of the pioneers of performance, installation, and video art. Although other visual artists, such as Salvador Dali and Yves Klein, had used live self-portraiture and performance as a vehicle for public provocation, Schneemann was among the first to use her body to animate the relationship between the world of lived experience and the imagination, as well as issues of the erotic, the sacred, and the taboo. In the 1960s, her work prefigured the feminist movement's sexual self-assertion for women, and by the mid-1970s, her work anticipated the field of women's studies and its critique of patriarchal institutions. In the 1980s, she was one of the first to experiment with virtual environments.

Imaging Her Erotics integrates images from Schneemann's works in painting, collage, drawing, and video sculptures with written material drawn from the artist's journals, dream diaries, essays, and lectures. Encompassing four decades of her work, it demonstrates her profound influence on artists in all media. An opening essay by Kristine Stiles presents Schneemann's major themes and places her work in a historical context. Among other topics, the book covers Schneemann's response to the widespread use by artists of the ideas of theoreticians such as Georges Bataille, Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Lacan; her relationship to male artists such as Joseph Cornell, Robert Morris, and Claes Oldenburg; and reminiscences about her friends Ana Mendieta, Charlotte Moorman, and Hannah Wilke. The book also contains essays by Jay Murphy and David Levi-Strauss and interviews with the artist by Kate Haug, Linda Montano, and Aviva Rahmani.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262194594 356 pp. | 8 in x 9 in 150 illus.


$28.95 T ISBN: 9780262692977 356 pp. | 8 in x 9 in 150 illus.


  • From the perspective of today's art world, it is difficult to grasp the extraordinary bravery and daring of Carolee Schneeman.

    Publishers Weekly

  • Schneemann's work is founded on a penetrating intellect. Schneemann's is an erotics of pleasure, pain, and knowledge.


  • Schneeman' is finally accorded the comprehensive attention it deserves...stimulating and well-designed



  • Standing alone and often naked, Carolee Schneemann has for the past forty years embodied what Lucy Lippard calls a 'mythological revolution.' Her mythic heroine is the 'eye body': the perceiving organism, simultaneously subject and object, which in itself becomes the refracting mirror of all history and political struggle, nature and culture, biology and religion, art and language. Imaging Her Erotics chronicles, through words and pictures, this artist's attempts to inscribe her own 'eye body' into the materials of painting and sculpture, photography and film, installation works and performances: her rapturous and remarkable quest to fuse with both the shamanic roots of civilization and the physical spaces of contemporary art.

    Shelly Rice

    author of Parisian Views and editor of Inverted Odysseys: Maya Deren, Claude Cahun, Cindy Sherman

  • Carolee Schneemann's legendary early film Fuses undertook to discover whether showing how sexual love looked corresponded to how it felt. But even the art world is organized into systems of resistance against 'imaging her erotics,' and her subsequent art has largely been dedicated to overcoming them. She has done this with humor, courage, tireless imagination, love, smarts, wisdom, goodness—and an amazing cheerfulness. I cherish this book as a portrait of the artist as woman warrior fighting on behalf of us all. When art is free, everyone is freed.

    Arthur C. Danto

    Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Columbia University, and Art Critic, The Nation

  • When I need to be reminded of art's sacredness, dignity, and necessity, I turn to the inspiring example of Carolee Schneemann's work. This volume gives beautiful testimony to the range and complexity of her achievement.

    Wayne Koestenbaum

    Professor of English, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, and author of Cleavage: Essays on Sex, Stars, and Aesthetics

  • A seminal figure in 20th century art, Carolee Schneemann has produced a body of work that is as capacious as the time it grew up in. Her work is startling, smart, immediate, sensual, and thoughtful. Schneemann's films – especially, for me, the magnificent two-screen 'Kitch's Last Meal' – are, in the best sense, loving experiments in moving pictures. Her performances, like 'Up To and Including Her Limits,' make the living body signify as form and place. Schneemann's writing is delightful, witty, and breathlessly articulate. This new collection is vitally important to understanding Carolee Schneemann's significant and singular contributions to contemporary practices.

    Lynne Tillman

    author of No Lease on Life and The Broad Picture


  • Carolee Schneemann is the winner of the Jimmy Ernst Award in Art presented by The American Academy of Arts and Letters. The $5000 prize is given to a "painter or sculptor whose lifetime contribution to his or her vision has been both consistent and dedicated."