John Latham studied at the Chelsea School of Art, London from 1946 to 1950. His art and theory were consistently experimental and from the late 1950s onwards included conceptual art practices, performance art as well as painting, assemblage, film and video. Preoccupied with time, he was visionary in mapping systems of knowledge, scientific or religious. His philosophy of time, what he called ‘Event Structure’, proposes that the universe should be regarded as a system of events in time, rather than objects in space. This unconventional philosophy has informed his art, where actions and processes are central. He is most infamous for inviting the students of Central Saint Martins, where he was teaching at the time, to chew on and spit out the pages of a borrowed copy of Clement Greenberg’s art history opus, Art and Culture in 1966. He then fermented the result for a year in acid and yeast, and returned the liquified outcome to the library, describing it as ‘Essence of Greenberg’.
Solo exhibitions include Serpentine galleries, London, UK (2017); Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK (2016); Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy (2014); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK (2010); P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York City, USA (2006); John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, UK (2006); Tate Britain, London, UK (2005, 1976); Mattress Factory, Pittsburg, USA (1996); MoMA Oxford, UK (1992); Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany (1991); Société des Expositions du Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (1984); and Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, Germany (1975)
His work has been shown in group exhibitions including Documenta 6, Kassel, Germany (1977) and the 51st and 57th Venice Biennale, Venice Italy (2005 & 2017)
The artist lived and worked in London before his death in 2006.