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«Generally I see my work as a political act:

an appropriation of icons of modern art

that I’m taking from the art world for myself

(and for others).»

Mike Bidlo, 1988

Mike Bidlo (1953)

Born on October 20, 1953, in Chicago, painter and Conceptualist Mike Bidlo studied at the Universities of Chicago, Carbondale, and New York in the 1970s. With a background in American Conceptualism, he developed a series of paintings and drawings that referred to famous twentieth-century painters. In 1982 he became known as a performance artist through his piece Jack the Dripper at Peg’s Place, which he performed at New York’s P. S.1. Jack the Dripperwas a reenactment of Pollock’s famous action, in which he urinated in the chimney at Peggy Guggenheim’s house. Other performances followed, such as Guernica: A Painting in Progress, in 1984 in Los Angeles, in which Bidlo produced Picasso’s famous painting for a second time in front of an audience at the Gagosian Gallery within a period of four weeks. That same year he recreated Andy Warhol’s Factory on the roof of P. S.1. 

In 1984 Bidlo was a guest professor at the Pratt Institute in New York, as well as in Colorado and Los Angeles. Along with Elaine Sturtevant, Richard Pettibone, Sherrie Levine, and Louise Lawler, Bidlo is considered one of the representatives of Appropriation Art. A movement that could not be ignored in the early 1980s, Appropriation Art allowed artists to use existing images to create their own works on the theme of art. Bidlo honed this approach with his deceptively real copies of paintings by Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Pollock and others. He also examined the works of younger artists, such as Warhol and Julian Schnabel. In 1988 he exhibited eighty examples of Picasso’s paintings of women at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York, under the title Not Picasso. In 1992, when Bidlo showed masterpieces by Fernand Léger under the title Not Léger at the Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, the exhibition was closed by the district attorney’s office in Zurich, pending investigation. The catalogues, invitation cards, and posters were destroyed by the director of Pro Litteris Schweiz, a Swiss copyright protection agency, in the presence of Bischofberger.

Bidlo, who is a self-taught painter, regards himself as a Conceptualist. He lives in New York.


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