BRUCE CONNER American, 1933-2008
b. 1933 Kansas, United States - d. 2008 San Francisco, United States
Conner first exhibited in New York after receiving his BFA from Nebraska University in 1956. In 1957, he moved to San Francisco where he soon became involved in the Beat Scene. Influenced by dada and surrealism, and particularly Marcel Duchamp, he used found objects such as women's stockings, bicycle wheels, broken dolls, fur, and candles, often combined with collaged or painted surfaces. He founded the Rat Bastard Protective Association in 1959, (named in reference to the city’s garbage collectors) which included George Herms and Wally Hedrick. Called ‘Junk’ artists for their reclamation of broken everyday detritus Conner, along with other assemblage artists such as Robert Mallary used the objects to make a commentary of what Conner saw as the discarded beauty of Post-War modern America, violence against women, consumerism and Nuclear War. Conner had a profound effect on the direction of art away from American-Action Painting towards the development of Conceptual Art, embracing, as they did not only the aesthetic concerns of previous movements but also the prevailing ecological, political and philosophical concerns of the time working simultaneously in a range of mediums. He began making short movies in the late 1950s, a medium which again allowed him to edit and splice imagery to comment on and provoke society such as Crossroads (1976) in which the 1952 atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll becomes a thing of terrible beauty when shown in extreme slow motion from 27 different angles. In the 1970s he became part of the San Francisco punk scene, working as a staff photographer for the zine Search and Destroy. A recent Retrospective Bruce Conner: It's All True was held at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, travelling to the San Francisco MOMA, 2016- 2017.