Laurie Anderson has been an avant-garde artist since the 1970s and her works have included performance art, pop music, and projects with a variety of different media. Anderson was born in Chicago in 1947 and from her teenage years began to study the violin and in her 20s relocated to New York City. She graduated from Barnard College in 1969 with a B.A in art history and then got her M.F.A in sculpture from Columbia University in 1972. A year later she mounted her first public performance.
For the next 45 years, she has put on many solo exhibitions displayed in places like Museum of Modern Art, Sean Kelly Gallery, Artists Space in New York and others as well as group exhibitions at Whitney Museum of American Art, Tate Modern in London and Contemporary Arts Museum right here in Houston. She had become well known for her performances in museums, concert halls and festivals by 1976, which promoted her throughout North America and Europe. In 1980, her musical career took off with the single “O Superman”, which was an 8-minute single filled with electronic beats with a mix of singing and talking lyrics. The song was very popular in Britain and earned Anderson a full-length LP, Big Science, which is also the soundtrack to her feature-length film Home of the Brave (1986). In 1984, Anderson produced a pop-centric work with artists like Peter Gabriel and Adrian Belew called Mister Heartbreak.
Anderson is considered a pioneer of electronic music and it is evident through her continued interest in experimenting with sounds through technology with albums like Strange Angels (1989), Bright Red (1994) and The Ugly One with Jewels (1995). Between 1989 and 1994, Anderson dedicated her time to performance tours. In 1995 she released Puppet Motel, a CD-ROM that confirmed her deep interest in the evolving technology of the time.
In 2001, Life on a String was released and it focused on her musical theatric works. After the attack on the World Trade Center, Anderson recorded a live album at the New York City Town Hall in commemoration of the tragedy. While continuing to perform, she took a break from recording for seven years until she began working on Homeland (2010). Shortly, in 2013 her husband, the musician Lou Reed passed away, which led to her most recent work – Heart of a Dog (2015) released on Nonesuch.
Today, she continues to be the experimental artists she was known as in the 80s and still travels and performs at various locations. This December, she will be performing at Day for Night music festival (15th-17th) so if you’re in the area, you should probably buy some tickets and go see the performance that was the beginning of the electronic music we know now. Purchase tickets here.