‘Death of an Artist’ examines the death of Ana Mendieta
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Before her death in the 1980s, Ana Mendieta was a rising star on the Manhattan art scene. She was an interdisciplinary artist known for her signature style called “earth body art”. Ana’s work represented her identity as a Cuban female artist and she worked tirelessly to be recognized in a world dominated by white men.
His pieces ranged from creating bodily silhouettes out of mud, rocks, flowers, and leaves, to performance art influenced by Cuban and Mexican occult and folk traditions. Ana also created provocative self-portraits that challenged beauty and gender norms. In some rooms, she would photograph herself covered in blood, smash her face against glass to take distorted self-portraits, and disguise herself with facial hair.
Ana has often used blood in her performances, including body tracks, where she covered her hands and arms in blood and smeared them on a wall. She was considered a feminist artist and befriended peers like Carolee Schneemann, Nancy Spero and Mary Beth Edelson.
To the surprise of many, Ana married a popular, older sculptor, Carl Andre, in 1985. Carl was a wealthy, white, well-established New England artist who rose to fame in the 1960s for his minimalist sculptures and ruled the art world. inner circles. He was the polar opposite of Ana – she was a Cuban refugee, a woman and an avant-garde interdisciplinary artist whose first pieces were created in Iowa in the 1970s.
In 1985, months after their wedding, Carl called 911 and exclaimed that his wife “came out the window” of their 34th floor apartment on Mercer Street in New York City. Ana was pronounced dead and people assumed that Carl killed Ana. When Carl was charged with murder, it divided the art world.
In Pushkin’s “Death of an Artist,” host Helen Molesworth examines Ana’s death, the murder trial, and investigates both sides. Helen delves into the active protests and silence that followed this story for over 35 years. Start the true crime podcast from the beginning to hear the case unfold in episodes under 45 minutes each.
Ana’s friends and family called for an investigation after her death, but many art world leaders dismissed them as a “feminist cabal”. At the time of Ana’s death, the couple were drinking. Carl claimed he did not remember anything leading up to the incident and felt that Ana could have taken her own life. Those who knew the couple raised the possibility that Carl pushed her out the window during an argument.
When Carl was questioned his story was inconsistent, he had scratches on his face and claimed he was innocent. Episode 2 delves into Carl’s story, his relationship with Ana, and tries to make sense of what happened that night. Carl was charged 3 times and acquitted as there was insufficient evidence to support the theory that Ana was pushed out of the window.
During the trial, Carl tried to use Ana’s art against her and attempted to use his influence to support her case. On the podcast, host Helen reveals her personal connection to this case, Carl, his work and how it affected his career. We’ll also hear how audiences are still dealing with Ana’s death, what Carl is up to today, and more.
New “Death of an Artist” episodes will air throughout October wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.
Listen to “Death of an Artist”