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Dennis Oppenheim, 1938–2011

Reading Position for Second Degree Burn1970

Influenced by his opposition to the Vietnam War, this work documents the artist laying topless in the sun for five hours with an open book titled ‘Tactics – Cavalry Artillery’ on his chest. Froma privileged position of relative safety, Oppenheim points to the damage inflicted on bodies through the use of napalm by the United States army in Vietnam.

Often Oppenheim’s works involve uncontrollable external influences that are subject to climatic or other forces. Here, he hints at the vulnerability of the human body in relation to both nature and war-making governments. He described the piece as having its roots, “in a notion of colour change. I allowed myself to be painted, my skin became pigment.”

MediumColour photography and collage text
Dimensions Unframed, 216 x 152 cm
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Donated by the artist, 2001
Item NumberIMMA.1348
Copyright For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].
Image Caption
Dennis Oppenheim, Reading Position for Second Degree Burn, 1970, Colour photography and collage text, Unframed, 216 x 152 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Donated by the artist, 2001

For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].

About the Artist

Dennis Oppenheim 1938–2011

American artist Dennis Oppenheim was a leading figure in the development of conceptualism in the United States. From the 1970s, Oppenheim created ephemeral earth works and was in the vanguard of artists using film and video in relation to performance. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum, New York, the Pompidou Centre, Paris, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. He was the subject of a major solo exhibition at IMMA in 2001.

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