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Battcock, Gregory

Date born: 1941 [some sources say 1937]

Place Born: New York, NY

Date died: 1980

Place died: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Art critic, art historian, and painter. Battcock was the son of Elizabeth T and Gregory J. Battcock. He attended Michigan State University, receiving his A.B. before graduating from Hunter College (today Hunter College, City University of New York) with an M.A. He also attained a certificate at the Academia de Belli Arti, Rome. Battcock painted as an abstract expressionist and did theater costume designs. Battcock was close friends with Andy Warhol and starred in several of the artist’s films, including "Batman Dracula," 1964 and "Horse," 1965, as well as Gregory Markopoulos' films "Galaxie," 1966 and "Iliac Passion," 1967. He became a special correspondent for Arts Magazine also in 1967. His interest in cinema led him to write articles about other Warhol films such as, “Notes on the Chelsea Girls: A Film by Andy Warhol,” 1967, and “Warhol Film,” 1968. Battcock contributed to the re-definition of what the art world categorizes as art in that many of his anthologies address "new" fields of the aesthetic exploration of media such as film and video. He advocated that video is able to serve purposes other than the commercial, as it can stimulate intellectual and artistic inquiry. Battcock was appointed associate professor of art history at Fairleigh Dickenson University, Teaneck NJ Campus, advancing to professor of art history, William Paterson College, Wayne, NJ in 1970. He accepted the additional responsibilities of editor of Arts Magazine in 1973. During these years, he wrote and edited books about minimal art, conceptual art, realism, photo-realism, video art, new music and art education, and he had. In these activities Battcock sought to define a "new art." For example, the anthologies he edited investigated new types of relationships developing between artists, critics, art objects and the art world. Correspondingly, he believed that close and direct contact with artists and their work was necessary in facilitating the creation of new art. Because of Battcock’s interests in new media and the relationships he developed with artists of his time, scholars today are more closely examining the role of the art critic in the Warhol era. Upon completing his dissertation, Constructivism and Minimal Art: Some Critical, Theoretical and Aesthetic Correlations, he received his Ph.D. from New York University in 1979. By then, Battcock was a significant member of the contemporary American art world. On December 24, 1980, Battcock was stabbed to death at his condo in Puerto Rico; his murder remains unsolved. An openly gay man, he lived a lifestyle which the art historian Robert Rosenblum (q.v.) described at “performance theater.” His papers consisting of biographical information, correspondence, works of art, financial records, photographs, artist files, printed material, datebooks, and manuscripts of published and unpublished writings are in housed in the Archives of American Art, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. Alice Neel’s painting, “David Bourden and Gregory Battcock,” 1971, is in the collection of the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas Austin. [contributed by the “Methodologies in the History of Art and Visual Culture” class, University of North Texas, fall 2008, of Prof. Jennifer Way, Julie Barnofski, JC Bigornia, Richard Bond, Twyla Bloxham, Candace Dugger, Andrea Duffie, Jeremy Moore, Krissi Oden, Kristen Wagstrom, Heather White, Betsy Williamson.]

Home Country: United States

Sources: Young, Vernon. “I’ve Been Reading These Film Critics.” Hudson Review 21 (Summer, 1968): 337-344; Henry, Garritt. “Whole Picture.” Art International 15 (December 1971): 89; Battcock, Gregory. New Ideas in Art Education; A Critical Anthology. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1973; Nabakowski, Gislind. “Raimund Girke.” Heute Kunst (G.F.R.). No. 4-5 (December 1973): 16-19; “New York City Edition.” File (Canada) 3 (Spring, 1976): 18-61; Crimp, Douglas. “Yvonne Rainer, Muciz Lover.” Grey Room no. 22 (Winter, 2006): 48-67; [obituaries:] “Art Professor Is Slain in San Juan.” New York Times December 26, 1980, p. B2; [remembrance, including Rosenblum recollection] Russell, John. “Art People.” New York Times January 16, 1981, p. C20.

Bibliography [dissertation:] Constructivism and Minimal Art: Some Critical, Theoretical and Aesthetic Correlations. New York University, 1979; edited. The New Art: A Critical Anthology. New York: Dutton, 1965; edited. The New American Cinema: A Critical Anthology. New York: Dutton, 1967; ed. Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology. New York: Dutton, 1968; Idea Art: A Critical Anthology. New York: Dutton, 1973; New Ideas in Art Education: A Critical Anthology. New York: Dutton, 1973; “Aesthetic for Rebellion.” Art and Artists 7, no. 10 (January 1973): 12-14; “Aesthetics and/or Transportation.” Arts Magazine 48, no. 1 (September-October 1973): 33-5; “Abstract Expressionism: The End of an Age.” Domus 528 (November 1973): 367; “Exhibition in Rome: Contemporanea [Mostra a Roma: Contemporanea].” Domus 531 (February 1974): 48-52; “It Is.” Arts Magazine 48, no. 7 (April 1974): 31-3; “Andy Warhol: New Predictions for Art.” Arts Magazine 48, no. 8 (May 1974): 347; “Marchese Emilio Pucci di Barsento.” Arts Magazine 48, no. 9 (June 1974): 40-2; “Warhol: and an Exhibition in October in Milan [Warhol: e una Mostra in Ottobre a Milano].” Domus 541 (December 1974): 36-7; edited. Super Realism: A Critical Anthology. New York: Dutton, 1975; “New York Developments.” Art and Artists 9, no. 11 (February 1975): 4; “Art in America: Saari, Hirshmann, Oppenheim.” Domus 546 (May 1975): 53-4; “An Interview with Salvador Dali.” Art and Artists 10, no. 5 (August 1975): 4-5; “Dali.” Domus 550 (September 1975): 50-1; “News from New York.” Domus 550 (September 1975): 53; “Controversy in New York, Concerning the Article by Tom Wolfe, 'The Painted Word'.” Domus 551 (October 1975): 50-1; “Andy Warhol: A Book.” Domus 553 (December 1975): 52; “Good Taste, Bad Taste.” Domus 555 (February 1976): 47; “Video and Napkins.” Domus 559 (June 1976): 52; “Les Levine: 'Media Artist'.” Domus 560 (July 1976): 50-2, I-IV; Battcock, Gregory. “The Venice Biennale [La Biennale di Venezia].” Domus 564 (November 1976): 1-19, I-VI; Why Art: Casual Notes on the Aesthetics of the Immediate Past. New York: Dutton, 1977; “New York: Art Exhibitions.” Domus 566 (January 1977): 53-5, III, VI; “Without Importance.” Domus 567 (February 1977): 52-3, VI; “Soho: The Artists' Day.” Domus 575 (October 1977): 55; edited. New Artists Video: A Critical Anthology. New York: Dutton, 1978; "Forward." in Meisel, Louis K. Photo-realism. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1980; “Ocean Liners: The Way They Were.” Art in America 68, no. 6 (Summer 1980): 142–7; edited. Breaking the Sound Barrier: A Critical Anthology of the New Music. New York: Dutton, 1981.