Beautiful Privacy - Kaprow - Fame

This is a nice passage from Jeff Kelly in the Acknowledgements at the beginning of Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life by Allan Kaprow:

"Sensing the obsolescence of his newly invented art form [happenings] as early as 1961, Kaprow wrote: 'Some of us will probably become famous. It will be an ironic fame fashioned largely by those who have never seen our work.' He was right. Happenings soon became a species of mythology, the subject of rumor or gossip. Hoping to prolong his experiment into the meanings of everyday life, Kaprow reconciled himself to letting go of the avant-garde genre he'd become identified with, confessing: 'I shouldn't really mind, for as the new myth grows on its own, without reference to anything in particular, that artist may achieve a beautiful privacy, famed for something purely imaginary while free to explore something nobody will notice.'

"Indeed, as the century draws to a close, one still hears the question, 'What ever happened to Allan Kaprow?' Life has happened to Allan Kaprow, his life, 'something nobody will notice,' and it has happened to him as the subject matter of his practice as an artist."

Kaprow was so prescient to see that even though he had largely abandoned "happenings" by the early 60s he would forever be identified by them. He, similar to Duchamp, used his fame tactically to explore a truly radical break with art. For forty years after making that break, he plotted an alternate course for art practice, one that confronted the specter of "professionalism" and "careerism" that has come to dominate art making of the last half century or so, even among those who appear under the art/life banner. With many of these forms, the art side of art/life still prevails falling short of Kaprow's speculation "...that art and all its resonances may one day become unnecessary for today's experimenter..." It remains to be seen if that threshold will ever be crossed given how entrenched art is with commerce, but we can dream of the days when "beautiful privacy" prevails.

A much better obituary than the one linked to in the previous post can be found here.