“Always be too expensive to buy.”
Adrian Margaret Smith Piper (b. 1948) is a first-generation Conceptual artist and analytic philosopher. She began exhibiting her artwork internationally at the age of twenty, and graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 1969. While continuing to produce and exhibit her artwork, she received a B.A. in Philosophy with a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Musicology from the City College of New York in 1974 and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard University in 1981 under the supervision of John Rawls; and studied Kant and Hegel with Dieter Henrich at the University of Heidelberg in 1977-1978. Her formal education lasted a total of 27 years.
Adrian taught philosophy at Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, Stanford, and UCSD. Following in the steps of trailblazing pioneer Dr. Joyce Mitchell Cook, in 1987 she became the first tenured African American woman professor in the field of philosophy.
Adrian introduced issues of race and gender into the vocabulary of Conceptual art and explicit political content into Minimalism. In 2000 she further expanded the vocabulary of Conceptual art to include Vedic philosophical imagery and concepts. Her artwork is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Centre Pompidou, and the Generali Foundation, Vienna, among others.
Adrian has been a Non-Resident Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University since 1994 and was a Scholar at the Getty Research Institute in 1998-1999. She has been awarded Guggenheim, AVA, NEA, NEH, Andrew Mellon, Woodrow Wilson, Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, and Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin Institute for Advanced Study Research Fellowships, as well as the Skowhegan Medal for Sculptural Installation and the New York Dance & Performance Award (the Bessie) for Installation & New Media.
Adrian began her study and practice of yoga in 1965 with the Upanishads and Swami Vishnudevananda’s Complete Book of Yoga. She studied with Swami Satchidananda from 1966, became a svanistha in 1971 and a brahmacharin in 1985. In 2012, on her 64th birthday, Adrian Piper retired from being black. She lives and works in Berlin, where she runs the APRA Foundation Berlin and edits The Berlin Journal of Philosophy
Photo: Albert Landau