Shop > Artists' Books

Out of Stock

Topless Cellist: The Improbable Life of Charlotte Moorman

Yoko Ono
The MIT Press
Artists' Books
7 × 9 inches
448 pages
, History

The Juilliard-trained cellist Charlotte Moorman sat nude behind a cello of carved ice, performed while dangling from helium-filled balloons, and deployed an array of instruments on The Mike Douglas Show that included her cello, a whistle, a cap gun, a gong, and a belch. She did a striptease while playing Bach in Nam June Paik’s Sonata for Adults Only. In the 1960s, Moorman (1933–1991) became famous for her madcap (and often unclothed) performance antics; less famous but more significant is Moorman’s transformative influence on contemporary performance practice—and her dedication to the idea that avant-garde art should reach the widest possible audience. In Topless Cellist, the first book to explore Moorman’s life and work, Joan Rothfuss rediscovers, and recovers, the legacy of an extraordinary American artist.

Moorman’s arrest in 1967 for performing topless made her a water-cooler conversation-starter, but before her tabloid fame she was a star of the avant-garde performance circuit, with a repertoire of pieces by, among others, Yoko Ono, Joseph Beuys, John Cage, and Paik, her main artistic partner. Moorman invented a new mode of performance that combined classical rigor, jazz improvisation, and avant-garde experiment—informed by intuition, daring, and love of spectacle. Moorman’s annual festival of the avant-garde offered the public a lively sampler of contemporary art in performance, music, dance, poetry, film, and other media.

Rothfuss chronicles Moorman’s life from her youth in Little Rock, Arkansas (where she was “Miss City Beautiful” of 1952) through her career in New York’s avant-garde to her death from breast cancer in 1991. (Typically, she approached her treatment as if it were a performance.) Deeply researched and profusely illustrated, Topless Cellist offers a fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious story of an artist whose importance was more than the sum of her performances.

Hardcover, black & white images, English text.

  1. Topless Cellist: The Improbable Life of Charlotte Moorman

Related Items

  1. Bon! Bon!
  2. The Meal
  3. Yoko Ono: 600 Eyes for Krzysztofory
  4. Yoko Ono: Imagine Peace
  5. Shawna Dempsey and Lori Millan: In the Life
  6. Vito Acconci, lynda benglis, Louise Bourgeois, Gerard Byrne, George Chakravarthi, Judy Chicago, vaginal davis, Wim Delvoye, Elmgreen & Dragset, VALIE EXPORT, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, harmony hammond, claudette johnson, Mary Kelly, Yayoi Kusama, and Robert: Sexuality
  7. Yoko Ono: Spare Room
  8. Andrea Fraser: Museum Highlights
  9. Shahrzad Darafsheh: Half-Light
  10. Derek Sullivan: Sixteen Books by Artists: Check this shit out
  11. Sean Landers, Art, Life and God
  12. Ben Burgess: Your Life Story
  13. The Adventures of Nar Duell in Second Life: Pushing Art
  14. Ho Tam: hotam #1
  15. Slide Shows
  16. The Adventures of Nar Duell in Second Life – Dancing With Myself
  17. The Adventures of Nar Duell in Second Life: Pill Flower World
  18. The Adventures of Nar Duell in Second Life - The Low Life Epic
  19. The Adventures of Nar Duell in Second Life: The Snow Globe Epic
  20. The Adventures of Nar Duell in Second Life – Finding TrackHouse
  21. Paul Buck: A Public Intimacy (A Life through Scrapbooks)
  22. Grete Neseblod: The True Meaning of S.M.H.
  23. Cabin Time: Green River
  24. Sydney Hermant: Aunt Maud’s Scrapbook
  25. David Robilliard: The Yes No Quality of Dreams
  26. Henry Roy: Feb. 17, 2009
  27. John Beeson: Relative Distance
  28. Brian Boigan: We Have Impact
  29. Peep Hole Sheet #13 - Summer 2012

Claire Fontaine: Imperceptible Abstractions
  30. Ross Sinclair: I Love Real Life Mug
  31. Erik van der Weijde: This is not my Wife
  32. Joan Jonas: In the Shadow a Shadow