Dennis Oppenheim (1938-2011)

American conceptual artist Dennis Oppenheim was born in 1938 in Electric City, Washington. He attended the California College of Arts and Crafts and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1964 and an MFA from Stanford University in Palo Alto in 1965.

Available Dennis Oppenheim works:

Early Years

After some group shows in Belgium and California in 1967, Oppenheim had his first one man show in 1968 when he was 30 years old at the John Gibson Gallery, New York. In 1969 he started to gain recognition and had solo exhibitions in Paris at the Galerie Yvon Lambert and in Milan, Italy and group shows at the MOMA museum in New York, in the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland.


Land Art - Earthworks

As for most land art artists, photography was an important medium for Dennis Oppenheim. He used it to show his work to the public. Besides land art, his work is also classified as conceptual art. In 1969 he produced the work ‘Canceled Crop’. For this work he plowed a cross through a wheat field in Finsterwolde, Netherlands measuring 216 by 129 meters.

An important aspect of these types of land art works is that they are deliberately not suitable for sale, unlike common works of art such as a sculpture or a painting.


Body Art - Performance works

From the 1970s, Oppenheim increasingly emphatically began to use his own body for his works of art. He allowed his body to undergo natural phenomena, such as in the work ‘Reading Position for Second Degree Burn’. Lying on his back in the sun, with a book on his stomach, he let the sun's rays color his skin. The recess resulting from the book thus became clearly visible on his body.


International recognition

Dennis Oppenheim's work was presented at Documenta 5 (Kassel, Germany 1972) and 6 (Kassel, Germany, 1977), a significant event, because this international retrospective always shows the most current state of affairs in art. So, it says a lot about the importance attached to Oppenheim's work. His work has also been presented in solo museum exhibitions, including in 1972 at the Tate Gallery in London. His work was subsequently shown in the Kunsthalle in Basel in 1979 and in 1995 in the Kunstbunker Tumulka in Munich.


Dennis Oppenheim had 3 children and was married 4 times, he died in 2011, aged 72.