Anatomy of a Lifework

Join us for the latest in our research seminar series, with speaker Alistair Rider, Senior Lecturer at the School of Art History, University of St Andrews.

Lifeworks are works of art in which the creator engages in a practice for an assigned stretch of time, and the work becomes a record of the changing experiences that happen to the artist during this period. Lifeworks might take just a day or a week to complete, or they can consume an entire working career and be completed only at the death of the artist. They are exercises in self-analysis and self-cultivation, and often expose processes of physical and mental transformation, which apply to all individuals, yet generally go unnoticed and overlooked.

Art of this nature is commonly associated with performance-based practices, In this talk, Alistair Rider will explore how this category can be extended to include works in other media, including painting, writing, sculpture, photography and drawing. Rider will make a case for why lifeworks deserve further attention, and what they can tell us about our conceptions of selfhood.

Alistair Rider teaches art history at the University of St Andrews. He research focuses principally on artists born in the 1930s and 1940s who work (or worked) in an abstract, minimalist idiom. Currently, he holds a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, which he is using to prepare a book-length study of life-long artists' projects in Europe and North America since 1960 (provisional working title: 'The Stretch of the Self'. He is the author of Carl Andre: Things in their Elements (2011), and has recently completed a short monograph on the life American painter James Howell, which will be published later this year.

This event is organised by the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies as part of the spring seminar series. It is free to attend and all are welcome.

David Connearn, Coming-Going, ink on paper, 203 x 203 cm. Arts Council Collection.