Protagonist of experiments in the field of the arts starting at the end of the Fifties, Kaprow is considered one of the precursors of conceptual art and in particular of performing art. With the invention of the ‘happening’, a term he coined himself, he contributed to further changing the idea of painting that Pollock had already transformed with ‘action painting’ placing the accent more on the action than on the painting itself, so that the artist/author and the public/end user ended up coinciding, as together they executed an unique experience in which both were involved, physically and conceptually.
With his over 200 happenings – each of which was to represent a unique experience and was therefore rarely documented – it was his intention to provide a demonstration of a sort of ‘concrete art’ that made use of materials and actions typical of daily life, characterized primarily by the interaction and participation, including on an emotional level, of all the subjects involved.
After studying as an artist and art historian at New York University and Columbia University, he also studied composition with John Cage, whose influence contributed to changing his idea of painting, bringing him closer to experimental work. At the beginning of the 1960s, he was one of the founders of the group Fluxus and began an intense academic activity culminating in about twenty years of teaching at the San Diego campus of the University of California, an activity carried out parallel to his theoretical research and numerous publications, and an ongoing experimental activity through which he strove to arouse awareness and stimulate creativity through participation in any ‘event’, even the most banal, typical more of daily living than of an artistic gesture.