[Lette Eisenhauer Ascending Ladder in "The Courtyard," a Happening by Allan Kaprow, New York City]
Lawrence N. Shustak (American, born 1926)
Gelatin silver print
23.9 x 15.9 cm (9 7/16 x 6 1/4 in.)
Purchase, Frances Dittmer Gift, 2002
Not on view
These photographs of Kaprow's The Courtyard (1962) were made by Lawrence Shustak, a chronicler of downtown bohemia who happened upon the scene with photographer and darkroom sharer Robert Frank. Composed of discordant noise, circling bicyclists, tires swinging from windows, and showers of spot-lit, glittering tin foil, The Courtyard was a modern-day fable (set in a hotel for transients on Bleecker Street) showing the ascension of a goddess in the guise of a teenage girl, dressed in a nightgown and carrying a transistor radio blaring the latest hits. During the piece, she slowly made her way through the audience and climbed a ladder up a giant mountainlike sculpture in the middle of the courtyard. Striking cheesecake poses for a pair of paparazzi on a mattress (the fan attaining the immortality of the starlet), the girl was then swallowed up by another mountain descending from the rooftop-a deus ex machina for our media age.
These three images in this group were reproduced in Allan Kaprow's influential compendium of avant-garde performance from around the world entitled Assemblage-Environments-Happenings (1966).
Inscription: Signed and inscribed by artist in pencil, verso BRC: "IMAGE __ L.N. SHUSTAK."
Kaprow, Allan. Assemblage, Environments, Happenings. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1966. p. 134.