British artist, active in various fields, including photography, video, and sculpture, but most celebrated as a *Body or *Performance artist. He was born in Haslemere and studied at Guildford School of Art, 1949–54, the *Royal College of Art, 1956–9, the Munich Academy (on a Bavarian State Scholarship), 1959–60, and Florida State University, Tallahassee (on a Fulbright Travel Award), 1960–62.
Subsequently he taught part-time at several art schools, including the *Slade School. He has won much publicity for his performances concerned with self-inflicted pain and humiliation. The best known is probably And for today…nothing, performed at Gallery House, German Institute, London, in 1972 as part of the show ‘A Survey of the Avant-Garde in Britain’. In this he lay in a bath of water for several days in a room in which the floor was scattered with pieces of rotting meat. Eventually the other artists participating in the show asked him to stop. According to Frances Spalding (1986), ‘his discomfort obliges an anaesthetized, depoliticized society forcibly to consider the isolation and alienation of the individual’.
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)