cover of book
 

The Way to Be: A Memoir
by Barbara T. Smith
J. Paul Getty Trust, The
eISBN: 978-1-60606-823-6 | Paper: 978-1-60606-821-2
Library of Congress Classification NX512.S638A2 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 700.92

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY
ABOUT THIS BOOK
A firsthand account of the life and work of Barbara T. Smith, one of the most important yet underrecognized performance artists in the United States.
 
For over fifty years, Barbara T. Smith has been at the forefront of artistic movements in California. Her work across many mediums explores concepts that strike at the core of human nature, including sexuality, physical and spiritual sustenance, technology, and death. In this memoir, Smith weaves together descriptive accounts of her pioneering performances with an intimate narrative of her life.
 
The Way to Be covers the years 1931 to 1981, up to the artist’s fiftieth birthday, resulting in an exhaustive catalogue of her early work. It reveals the personal stories and events behind her pieces and the challenges she faced in an art world dominated by sexism and machismo. Drawing on Smith’s archive at the Getty Research Institute, this enthralling book presents previously unpublished notes, documents, photographs, and firsthand accounts of her life and practice, as well as her more recent reflections on the past. The Way to Be demonstrates Smith’s lasting contributions to the field of contemporary art and provides an engaging commentary on a recent period of great cultural and political change.
 
This volume is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the Getty Research Institute at the Getty Center from February 28 to July 16, 2023.

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