Eleanor Antin (b. 1935) is a pioneering conceptual artist known for her impersonations and reinventions of familiar historical, fictional and contemporary characters. Through performance art, filmmaking, installations, photographs and drawings Antin breathes new life into figures and scenarios from the past in ways which highlight their relevance to the present day. She delves into history, including narratives from ancient Rome and her own Jewish heritage – often she is masqueraded within her work, blurring the distinction between her identity and that of her assumed character.
Dance of Death reinvents a popular medieval literary and pictorial allegory based on the figure of Death
summoning the living to dance along to their grave. Dressed in historical garments, the nine skeletons
appear to dance energetically around the page with humour and theatricality, carrying weapons, musical instruments and vanitas symbols. Underlying this playful work is a reminder of the inevitability of
death and the transience of earthly pleasures.