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Working in the Gap between Art and Life: Frank O'Hara's Process Poems

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This essay looks at the concept of "process art" as a trend within various neo-avant-garde movements of the 1950s and 60s. It suggests that the aesthetic of process provides a useful way of re-thinking Bürger's problematic central idea of the reintegration of "art" and "life" as a goal of the avant-garde. Process art calls for a re-ordering and re-thinking of these categories in that the stability of "life" (as action) and "art" (as object) is challenged or put into play. The paper reads Frank O'Hara's poetry as self-consciously working in "the gap" between art and life (as Robert Rauschenberg once put it), and thus complicating Bürger's oversimplified theory.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2006

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