Artist Unveiling: Dennis Oppenheim

Entrance To A Garden

The 2010 Winning Piece

The Voting Process

The choices and evaluations

Dennis Oppenheim

Fusing sculpture and architecture

Photo of Entrance Piece

Dennis Oppenheim was born in 1938 in Electric City, Wash. He received his B.F.A. from the School of Arts and Crafts, and an M.F.A. from Stanford University. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Oppenheim exhibited his works internationally in galleries and museums including the Tate Gallery, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Galerie Pro Arte, Germany; and the Joseph Helman Gallery, New York.

He was commissioned by many venues including Ballerup Kommune, Copenhagen; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Olympic Park, South Korea.

Oppenheim, recognized for Lifetime Achievement at the 2007 Vancouver Sculpture Biennale, received international attention for a body of conceptual work that includes performance, sculpture and photographs. In the late 1960s, he created projects which embrace Earth and Body Art, Video and Performance Art.

In a series of works produced between 1970 and 1974, Oppenheim used his own body as a site to challenge the self: he explored the boundaries of personal risk, transformation, and communication. The year 1981 opened a new chapter, with machine pieces, complex constructions which he used to create a metaphor for the artistic process. By the mid-1980s his sculpture was based on the transformation of everyday objects. 
Since the mid-1990s, his work has become larger in scale and permanent, fusing sculpture and architecture.

Oppenheim lived and worked in New York. He died on Jan. 22, 2011. "We are terribly sad to learn of the death of Dennis Oppenheim," said Adeline Talbot, special projects consultant for the Public Art Endowment. "All those who met Mr. Oppenheim during his visit for the unveiling of Entrance to a Garden know that he embodied the energy and spark of the creative spirit. He will be missed for his talent and for his generosity. The Public Art Endowment is proud and grateful to have been the beneficiary of both."

Learn more about our 2010 winning piece and about voting process.