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A new generation of artists had converged on the downtown scene. Artist and audience united in "environments," "action events," and "happenings," engaging in projects that were often critiques of social and cultural mores, as well as the politics of the Vietnam War and Watergate.

Café au Go Go was the site of Picard's first public happening in 1964, called The Bed. She performed a kind of striptease from an electric bed assisted by the dancer Meredith Monk. The bed was a theme that preoccupied Picard throughout her performance career-perhaps as a sign for the life of the body, a growing feminist issue. She often utilized white bed sheets, associating the sheet to sculpture, and the color white to purity or peace. Other performances featuring white bed sheets and/or beds included Bed Sheet Event, 1969; Working from Bed, 1971 and 1972; White Sheets and Quiet Dots, 1974 and 1976 (performers included performance artists Hannah Wilke and Peter Hutchinson); Bed Tease, 1978 and 1980; and Bed Paint, 1981.

The younger female performance artists with whom Picard associated considered Picard to be worldly wise and sexually sophisticated. The popular feminist subject of the objectified female body was depicted by Picard as a history of what her own body had literally been through.

She was unmistakably a survivor, and she presented both the strength and the vulnerability of her aging woman's body with aplomb. She had already been "liberated"-politically and socially-between the world wars.

In many of her performances Picard utilized the methods of destruction art, defined by Gustav Metzger as a "re-enactment of the obsession with destruction, the pummeling to which individuals and masses are subjected." Ralph Ortiz, an artist who famously used and promoted destruction in art as a methodology, was also a frequent "happener" in Picard's performances.

"I work with the idea of destruction and construction, dematerialization and symbolic references to our society, to the political, sociological, environmental situation and I try through Art and Self-Performance to help to achieve CHANGE for values of humane and spiritual conditions in life," wrote Picard in a 1974 statement about her 1965 environment 1965-2065-2165.

Another technique used by Picard was to draw on one inside panel of a napkin with a liquid ink pen, then blot the drawing with the other side of the napkin, creating a kind of ghost print or “dematerialization” (influenced by Lucy Lippard’s 1973 book Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972).

Constantly engaged with people, her friends as well as denizens of art and literary communities around the world, Picard sketched their portraits on napkins, as well as in notebooks and on scraps of paper, while sitting in restaurants, listening to lectures, or watching performances. The portraits are a kind of extension of the journalistic interview. The napkin drawing-and- blotting method was a means by which she could "converse" with her subject.

Indeed, she employed the napkin as a kind of print matrix, taking advantage of the element of chance that is imbedded in the printmaking experience, and she used the method as if it were a magic trick to engage her audience. The napkin portraits were an ingenious tool devised to engage Picard's various interests.

In 1965 Lil Picard met Andy Warhol at the Stable Gallery through the poet Gerard Malanga, who was also Warhol's assistant and collaborator. More than one group photograph taken at The Factory includes Picard. She was an avid Warhol and Factory fan and had close relationships with several of Warhol's actors.

Picard's sense of what an artist was came from 1920s Berlin café society and she was attracted to The Factory because it was similarly an avant-garde community. Her riveting and important performance piece Construction-Destruction- Construction (C-D-C) took place at The Factory and was filmed by Warhol. Part of the C-D-C film appears in Warhol's 1968 **** (Four Stars). Warhol included Picard in some of his films, such as Brand X, and she played Warhol's mother in his film autobiography. She wrote about Warhol for various publications, and she also wrote for Interview, beginning in 1969, when it was founded by Warhol and Malanga.

Lil Picard's alter ego was a writer. As active as she was in making art, she also wrote hundreds of articles about art and artists. Before immigrating to the U.S. she was the fashion editor for Zeitschrift für Deutsche Konfektion and contributed to the Berliner Tageblatt, Der Spiegeland Die WeltLargely responsible for expanding German perceptions of postwar American art, she introduced such artists as Chuck Close, Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Carolee Schneemann through Das Kunstwerk (1964-72) and Kunstforum International (1970- 82). In the United States she wrote for the Village VoiceEast Village OtherSoho Weekly NewsFeminist Art Journal, High Performance, and Arts Magazineamong many other publications. It was said that Lil Picard never missed an exhibition opening.

Picard also translated Tom Wolfe's 1968 Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test into German. There are at least two unpublished works of fiction and many poems, audio interviews, and films in the seventy-six linear feet of material that comprises the Lil Picard Papers.

 

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