From the NY Times:

Robert R. McElroy, a photographer who documented the evanescent when he snapped hundreds of images of the Happenings art movement, a free-spirited blend of art and performance in the late 1950s and early ’60s, died on Feb. 22 at an assisted-living center in White Plains. He was 84.

The cause was Alzheimer’s disease, his wife, Evelyn, said.

For nearly 20 years Mr. McElroy was a staff photographer for Newsweek, covering news events like presidential campaigns and disasters. But on his own time he captured on film a gaggle of young artists as they amalgamated painting, sculpture, photography, music, dance, acting, poetry, light, sound, scents and even street trash into terse presentations that influenced the course of modern art.

“They didn’t have any plots or characters, but were just rather amorphous performances set in galleries,” said Milly Glimcher, an art historian at the Pace Gallery in Manhattan where an exhibit, “Happenings: New York, 1958-1963,” is on display. Of the more than 380 photographs in the exhibit, about 285 were taken by Mr. McElroy.

“Happenings: New York” depicts more than 30 original performances and assesses the contributions of artists like Jim Dine, Simone Forti, Red Grooms, Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, Lucas Samaras, Carolee Schneemann and Robert Whitman. Their work paved the way for the performance art movement, which took root in the mid-’60s.

More after the jump.

Originally Published: March 2nd, 2012