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Charlotte Moorman
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Musician
    (November 18, 1933-November 8, 1991)
    Born in Little Rock, Arkansas
    Birth name was Madeline Charlotte Moorman
    Cellist and performance artist
    Frequent collaborator with video artist Nam Jun Paik
    Also worked with Yoko Ono, Erik Satie, Joseph Beuys and Jim McWilliams
    Founded the Annual Avant Garde Festival of New York (1963)
    During her brief career in classical music, she ticked off numerous conductors with her chronic lateness.
    After she added extra sounds (including cowbells, foghorns, pistol shots and belching) to her performance of a John Cage composition, Jasper Johns wrote to Cage, ‘Moorman should be kept off the stage.’
    She produced Yoko Ono’s first major solo concert (1961), thus inflicting her on an unsuspecting world.
    Her notoriety as the ‘topless cellist’ overshadowed her work.
    She won a ‘Miss City Beautiful’ pageant in Little Rock (1952).
    She charmed New York City bureaucrats into providing facilities for often controversial performances by avant-garde artists.
    A museum curator said, ‘She was one of the greatest ambassadors for new art the US has ever seen.’
    She was arrested and charged with indecent exposure for playing the cello topless as part of Paik’s ‘Opera Sextronique.’ (February 9, 1967)
    Edgard Varese called her ‘the Jeanne d’Arc of new music.’
    She continued performing after being diagnosed with breast cancer, undergoing a mastectomy, and discovering that the cancer had recurred.

Credit: C. Fishel


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