Postcard size: 4 1/2 x 7 inches each (11.4 x 17.8 cm)
Framed size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/16 inches each (14 x 20.5 cm)
Eleanor Antin created “100 Boots” over two-and-a-half years in the early 1970’s. It consists of 51 photographic postcards, each of 100 black rubber boots in a dramatic or enigmatic situation. The postcards were mailed at irregular intervals, ranging from 3 days to 5 weeks, to people and institutions around the world. A full set is an exceedingly rare occurrence 50 years after the work was created.
MoMA, NY’s press release for the museum’s 1973 exhibition of “100 Boots” states:
The artist originally thought of “100 Boots” as a picaresque novel in the manner of Huckleberry Finn or Kerouac’s On the Road. However, she quickly saw its potential as a film “so I sold myself the movie rights.” As more cards were produced she began to see them as highlighted frames from a lengthy movie serial such as “The Perils of Pauline.” Each postcard includes a photograph of the boots (all photographs have been taken by Philip Steinmetz), a title for the particular adventure (e.g. “100 Boots on the Way to Church,” “100 Boots at the Saloon,” “100 Boots Taking the Hill”), and the date, time, and place at which the picture was taken. Individual images were not necessarily mailed in the same sequence in which they were taken. Rather, the artist re-orders distinct events into a continuous narrative, the structure of which emerges with the distribution of the work over a period of time. The boots started in the establishment culture (“At the Bank,” “In the Market”), then committed their first crime (“100 Boots Trespass”), after which they embarked on a series of adventures at deserted ranches, on river boats, in and out of odd jobs, and even had a love affair with a sad ending.
While most of the activities took place in California, where Antin lived, the boots’ exploits concluded in New York City (on the Staten Island Ferry, in Central Park, at a Greek night club, under the Brooklyn Bridge, and at various other locations), the series’ penultimate card has the boots going into MoMA for their show (where the 50 cards were shown for the first time). The final card shows the boots after the exhibition, “on vacation.”
Eleanor Antin works in drawing, film, installation, performance, photography, video, and writing. Her practices blur fiction and history, often with humorous wit, theatrical sensibility, and allegorical impulse. One-woman exhibitions include the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum and a major retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which traveled to St. Louis and toured the United Kingdom. She has been in major group exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Kunsthalle Wien, the Sydney Biennale, the Beaubourg, and Documenta 12, among others. She is represented in major collections including the Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Beaubourg, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Jewish Museum, New York, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many others. As a performance artist, she has appeared in venues around the world including the Venice Biennale and the Sydney Opera House. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 from the Women’s Caucus of the College Art Association; in 2002, the Best Show Award from the AICA (International Association of Art Critics), and earlier in 1999, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture Media Achievement Award.