Carolee Schneemann Wins the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

The American artist is best known for pieces like "Meat Joy" and "Interior Scroll."

Carolee Schneemann. © Patrick McMullan. Image Courtesy PAUL BRUINOOGE/

American artist Carolee Schneemann will receive the Golden Lion at the 2017 Venice Biennale, representatives have announced. The honor is awarded every two years, and honors lifetime achievement. She was nominated by this year’s curator, Christine Macel.

Schneeman is widely regarded as a pioneer in 1960s feminist performance art, and commonly uses her own body as the principle material in her work. “She is one of the most important figures in the development of performance and body art,” Macel said in a statement.

“Schneeman situates women as both the creator and an active part of the creation itself. In opposition to traditional representation of women merely as nude object, she has used the naked body as a primal, archaic force which could unify energies. Her style is direct, sexual, liberating, and autobiographical,” Macel added.

The artist, who was born in 1939 in Pennsylvania, lives and works in Hudson Valley, New York. Though she initially began as a painter in the 1950s, her career blossomed in the early 1960s as she delved into experimental film, music, poetry, dance, and performance.

She is best known for works like Meat Joy (1964) and Interior Scroll (1975), both considered key works of feminist performance art.

“Schneemann has transformed the definition of art, especially in regard to the body, sexuality, and gender,” the Biennale said in a statement.

“She champions the importance of women’s sensual pleasure and she examines the possibilities of political and personal emancipation from predominant social and aesthetic conventions. Through the exploration of a large range of media, such as painting, filmmaking, video art and performance, Schneemann re-writes her personal history of art, refusing the idea of an ‘his-tory’ narrated exclusively from the male point of view,” Macel concluded.

Schneemann will receive the award on May 13 at Ca’ Giustinian, the headquarters of La Biennale di Venezia, during the awards ceremony and opening of the 2017 exhibition.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.