Avant-garde performance artist Stuart A. Sherman died Sept. 14 of pneumonia at San Francisco General Hospital. He was 55.
Sherman, born in Providence, Rhode Island, attended Antioch College in Ohio and launched his theater career by acting with the Williamstown Playhouse in Massachusetts, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, Charles Ludlum’s Ridiculous Theater Company, and Richard Foreman’s Ontocological-Hysterical Theater.
Desiring a greater means of self-reinvention, Sherman forayed into the world of performance art in 1975. A theatrical miniaturist, he focused on the manipulation of everyday objects such as blocks, toys, and neckties. He also formulated responses to classical texts, transfiguring “Hamlet,” “Oedipus,” and “Faust” into fast-paced, condensed performances.
He performed in small, experimental theaters as well as major art museums throughout the United States and Europe.
Sherman eventually branched out into film and video in order to immortalize his work. He created over 25 short films, including “Elevator/Dance,” “The Discovery of the Phonograph,” and “Flying.”
He won the Village Voice Obie for outstanding achievement in 1977-78. Sherman was also awarded Italy’s Prix de Rome, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and Artists’ Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Visual Arts Program.
He is survived by two brothers and a sister.
Donations may be made to the Stuart A. Sherman Memorial Fund, c/o San Francisco Zen Center, 300 Page Street, San Francisco, CA 91402.