Richard Alpert (born April 11, 1947) is an American sculptor, abstract filmmaker, and performance artist. He is also known for his work in "Generating Art" and received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant in Sculpture in 1979. In 1986 he was nearly killed in a fire that destroyed his studio and much of his artwork.
He graduated with an undergraduate degree in studio arts from the University of Pittsburgh in 1970, and an MFA in sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1973.
Career in the 1980s
In the 1970s Alpert's conceptual and performance art included the performance sculpture Strategy for a Dance; the video works Post Time, A Circular Route, The Opacity of Order, and Facture; the article and collection South of the Slot; the printed works Women: On Our Way and Stretch; and the performances Hand Generated Light, Probe, Finger, and Sylph. In 1976 Artweek Magazine described several of these works. They wrote that Hand Generated Light was created by Alpert locking himself in a closet for three hours cranking a manual electrical generator keeping a tiny light aglow on the outside of the door. The magazine described this work, as well as Spent Time, Spent Energy and Sylph by the term "Generating Art", whereby the subject of the work itself was the generation of the art being created. Another of his major works from this period of his career is Sound Sculpture.
In 1975 Alpert was interviewed as a part of a Museum of Conceptual Art in San Francisco (MOCA) sponsored history of art project entitled 11 Video Interviews produced by Jeanette Willison, and was involved with another MOCA film compilation entitled A Tight Thirteen Minutes that same year, featuring one-minute color video works from thirteen artists. During this period his work was featured in magazines including Artweek and Arts Magazine. Alpert received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant in Sculpture in 1979.
Career in the 1980s
Alpert's work was described by Berkeley University's Pacific Film Archive in 1980 as "concerned with performance sculpture, video and concept-oriented drawing and object sculpture". That year a culminative exhibition of his work was shown at La Mamelle entitled Time Expands to Fit the Mold. In 1984 Alpert himself stated that his work was not only influenced by the performative arts, but also by science. The comments were made in the journal Leonardo, in an article he entitled "Tracks of Motion in an Enclosed Space: Connections between Performance and Visual Imagery". He wrote specifically that he has been inspired by Boyle's Law as well as the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Then on April 4, 1986 at 3:30pm EST Alpert's collection of work up until that point of his career was largely lost in an explosion that killed nine people and injured sixteen. During the explosion at the building that housed Alpert's studio, he was working on a new sculpture when the fire began raging on the floors below him. Alpert survived the blaze that took over 150 firefighters to contain. Alpert described the fire to a journalist that day, stating that, "There was no warning. There was a gigantic explosion. It went from daylight to pitch black. I got out because the roof collapsed around me."
Warm Water Cove is a photo-book by Richard Alpert which was published on November 1, 2015 by On Deck Publishing. The artist's website describes this collection as "… a celebration of another San Francisco; one far off the beaten path and excluded from travel brochures and TripAdvisor. This side of San Francisco was certainly was not host to the 'summer of love' nor 'little cable cars…'". The artist brings into question the value of our culture's desire to clean up the derelict, the discarded and the dirty elements of a city's reality."