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Eleanor Antin

The King, from The King of Solana Beach


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An early practitioner of performance and feminist art in the late 1960s and 1970s, Eleanor Antin employed her own body to create a series of personae based on iconic figures: the King, the Ballerina, and the Nurse. For each character the artist outfitted herself with elaborate costumes and assumed distinct affects, all with the aim of confounding fixed notions of gender, class, and race, revealing these categories to be socially constructed rather than objective or innate. Acting in the noble, entitled manner she imagined a king would, for her performance as “the King” Antin wandered the streets of Solana Beach, north of San Diego, conversing with her “subjects.” The artist’s persona of the King, a symbol of masculine power, is decidedly gender ambiguous— with facial hair, men’s clothing, and developed breasts—calling into question established traditions of patriarchal privilege and authority. Antin subsequently created an hour-long performance piece, a monologue titled The Battle of the Bluffs, in which the King addresses the real gentrification of Solana Beach. In Antin’s quasi-humorous fable, the King is challenged by wealthy landowners who want to seize the royal forest for self-gain. The monologue is ultimately a rumination on power, ethical leadership, and ecological destruction. [Permanent Collection Label, 2023]

  • Artist Eleanor Antin (American, b. 1935)
  • Title The King, from The King of Solana Beach
  • Date 1974
  • Medium Mannequin wearing original costume consisting of bush hat, fake hair and beard, wool cape, silk blouse, blue jeans, boots, and walking stick
  • Dimensions unframed | 67 1/4 x 23 x 25 3/4 in.
  • Credit line University purchase, Art Acquisition Fund and Charles H. Yalem Art Fund, 2000
  • Object number WU 2000.0481.02
  • Currently on View James M. Kemper Gallery, Room 2

Humor, Irony, and Satire: Strategies of Critique in Modern Art and Culture
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 05/21/2010 - 07/18/2010

Within/Without: artists working with the collection
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 04/02/2004 - 04/18/2004

The American West: Selections from the Washington University Collection
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 01/03/2002 - 04/14/2002

(The World May Be) Fantastic: Biennale of Sydney 2002
Venue Unknown (Sydney, Australia), 05/15/2002 - 07/28/2002

Eleanor Antin: A Retrospective
Eleanor Antin: Real Time Streaming, Mead Gallery, Warwick University, 09/29/2001 - 12/01/2001
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 09/08/2000 - 11/12/2000

Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York

This artwork record may be incomplete or need refinement. Our staff actively researches the collection and revises records when new information is available. If you have questions or comments about this record, please contact us.