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Lucas Samaras was born in Kastoria, Macedonia, Greece, on 14 September 1936. He emigrated with his family to the United States in 1948 and studied at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, from 1955 to 1959. There he met Allan Kaprow and George Segal. He exhibited work in solo shows at Rutgers University in 1955 and 1958, but his first exhibition of consequence was at the Reuben Gallery, New York, in 1959. Samaras became involved in the activities of the artists associated with the Reuben Gallery, notably Claes Oldenberg, Jim Dine and Red Grooms, and performed in some of their ‘Happenings’.
In 1960 he stopped painting in oils and worked on pastels, assemblages and boxes. One of his boxes was shown in the exhibition ‘Art of Assemblage’ at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1961. In 1966 he exhibited his Mirrored Room at the Pace Gallery, New York. A second mirrored room was made for exhibition at Documenta 4, Kassel, in 1968. In 1970 his series ‘Transformation: Chair’ was exhibited at the Pace Gallery, as were his series of ‘Autopolaroids’ in 1971. The Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective of his work in 1972. He has continued to exploit a variety of materials, exhibiting the ‘Photo-transformations’ in 1973, fabric ‘Reconstructions’ in 1978 and bronzes in 1982. A retrospective exhibition of his work was mounted by the Denver Art Museum in 1988 and toured major centres in the United States.
Samaras lives and works in New York.