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Guide to the Christopher Knowles Papers, 1973-2015 (bulk 1973-1990) MSS.414

Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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Fales Library and Special Collections

Collection processed by Sophie Glidden-Lyon.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on March 14, 2019
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Craig Savino to incorporate processed books  , January 2019

Biographical / Historical

Born in Brooklyn in 1959, Christopher Knowles is an artist who works within a variety of mediums including performance, poetry, paintings and what are called "typings," visual pieces created using a typewriter, most commonly with the letter "c" for "Christopher". In 1973, at the age of 14, Knowles was approached by avant-garde theater director and artist Robert Wilson, who had heard a tape of Knowles reciting his piece, "Emily Loves the TV" and hoped to collaborate with Knowles. Knowles went, with his parents, to a performance of Wilson's "The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin," where Wilson brought Knowles on stage to perform what would become Knowles' piece, "Emily Likes the TV." This was the beginning of a long friendship which would lead them to collaborate many times over the years, most famously in 1976 on "Einstein on the Beach," which was also in collaboration with composer Philip Glass and choreographer Lucinda Childs. Knowles lived in Wilson's SoHo loft and art studio for a time, working with the Byrd Hoffman School of Byrd's, Wilson's art and performance collective. Other collaborative work included performances with Cindy Lubar and Richard Kostelanetz.

Knowles has had a number of joint and solo shows of his visual art at the Kitchen, the Holly Solomon Gallery, the Byrd Hoffman Studio, Gavin Brown's Enterprise, the Museum of Modern Art, ICA Philadelphia and the Louvre. The Museum of Modern Art acquired some of Knowles' Typings in 2013. Knowles continues to live and work in New York City and travels widely to perform.