Christopher D’Arcangelo (23 January 1955 – 28 April 1979) was an American artist who worked in the 1970s until his death in 1979. He was a staunch supporter of anarchism. He was the son of the American painter Allan D'Arcangelo.
Anarchy protestsIn 1975, he performed a series of unauthorized actions in the major museums in New York: the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum. Each action was accompanied by a written statement stenciled on his back: "When I state that I am an anarchist I must also state that I am not an anarchist to be in keeping with the […] definition of anarchism. Long live anarchism." The word anarchism at the end of the first sentence and the entire second sentence were stenciled upside down.
The first action at the Whitney Museum, in February 1975, during the Whitney Biennial, consisted in chaining himself with a case-hardened chain and locks to the doors at the main entrance of the museum. D'Arcangelo remained shackled to the doors with his back exposed to visitors arriving on the museum's entrance ramp for around an hour, thus obstructing access to and from the museum. He performed two further illicit actions, in 1976, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA and, in 1978, at the Louvre in Paris.
After death acclaimIn recent years, D'Arcangelo's work has begun to be recognized as an important contribution to what has, in current art history, been termed institutional critique.
- Thomas Crow, "Unwritten Histories of Conceptual art", in Modern Art in the Common Culture (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1996) pp. 212–242
- Claudia Gould & Valerie Smith eds., 5000 Artists Return to Artists Space: 25 Years (New York: Artists Space, 1998)
- Alexander Alberro & Blake Stimson, Institutional Critique: An Anthology of Artists' Writings (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2009)
- Céline Condorelli, Support Structures (New York: Sternberg Press, 2009)
Installation shot, Louise Lawler, Untitled (L), Christopher D’Arcangelo, Four Texts for Artists Space (R), Group Exhibition, Artists Space, New York, 1978. Courtesy of Artists Space.
It is implied in the brochure that Artists Space shows work that is not shown in galleries and museums. Perhaps this is so. But the support for Artists Space is, in an indirect way, the same as the support for galleries and museums. Artists Space receives its main support from tax dollars; galleries and museums from private money. The government invests our money to maintain itself and, at the same time, to maintain the full social, cultural, and economic system (capitalism) […] Once it is understood that the support of Artists Space and the support of galleries and museums are one and the same, that the systems are one system, a discourse for change may be opened that will lead to tangible results, i.e., unqualified space and/or revolution.
Christopher Williams Bouquet for Bas Jan Ader and Christopher D'Arcangelo, 1991. Archival corrugated board, archival photocorners, compound, ...
Entretien avec Peter Nadin par Dean Inkster et Sébastien Pluot New York, septembre 2005 Still.
Photo: Video of Daniel Buren discussing Christopher D’Arcangelo’s work, in the exhibition “Anarchism Without Adjectives,” 2011; at Artists Space.
Anarchism without Adjectives: On the Work of Christopher D'Arcangelo, 1975 – 1979. Installation view at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery. Photo: Paul LItherland. Images courtesy the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montreal.
Anarchism without Adjectives: On the Work of Christopher D'Arcangelo, 1975 – 1979. Installation view at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montreal, 2013, picturing Sophie Bélair Clément Reads Plato’s Parmenides 1978, 2005, 2013 (2013). Photo: Caroline Boileau.
Bouquet: For Bas Jan Ader and Christopher D'Arcangelo | Christopher Williams | Galerie Max Hetzler, Köln (1991)
Christopher D'Arcangelo, Whitney Museum Action, 1975
Christopher D'Arcangelo, Whitney Museum Action (detail), 1975
Lorsque je déclare que je suis un anarchiste, je dois aussi déclarer que je ne suis pas un anarchiste, pour rester en accord avec l’idée (…) d’anarchisme. Longue vie à l’anarchisme.