Topless cellist : the improbable life of Charlotte Moorman

Found in the MIT FORTHCOMING BOOKS CATALOGUE,from September 2013

Topless cellist : the improbable life of Charlotte Moorman
Author: Joan Rothfuss; Yo¯ko Ono
Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts : The MIT Press, 2014.
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English

The Improbable Life of Charlotte Moorman
Joan Rothfuss
In 1967 Charlotte Moorman, a classically trained cellist from Little Rock, Arkansas, was arrested while
performing partially nude. She was quickly dubbed the Topless Cellist. Moorman (1933-1991) became
captivated by experimental art in the early 1960s after performing with John Cage, Yoko Ono, David Tudor,
La Monte Young, among others. She went on to become one of the most sought-after artists on the avant-
garde with work that blended classical music conventions, electronic technology, pop culture, and her own
extravagant stage presence. Her artistic collaboration with Nam June Paik began in 1964 and inspired several
of his most iconic works, including TV Cello , TV Bra , and the videotape Global Groove

Perhaps Moormans most impressive (and least known) achievement was the Annual New York Avant-Garde Festival (1963-1980). Begun
as a showcase for New Music, the event evolved into a multidisciplinary extravaganza featuring hundreds of
artists working in New Music, avant-garde jazz, film, video, dance, poetry, electronic music, performance, and
more. Staged in busy public venues such as Central Park, Grand Central Station, and even aboard a working
Staten Island ferryboat, the festivals became essential viewing for artists. Ten years in the making,
Topless Cellist is a scrupulously researched and profusely illustrated book that draws on a newly accessible archive of
Moormans papers as well as on the authors interMediaviews with more than one hundred of Moormans
contemporaries. The result is both an important contribution to the history of experimental music and
performance art and a critical intervention in the historiography of the postwar avant-garde. General readers
as well as scholars interested in contemporary art, music, and the avant-garde will welcome
Topless Cellist
Hardcover 336 pages; 150 b&w illustrations September

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