Ulay, pioneering performance artist and famed former partner of Marina Abramović, has died at age 76.
Frank Uwe Laysiepen—or better known as Ulay—has passed away early in the morning of Monday 2 March, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, due to health complications at the age of 76. The artist had been undergoing treatment for lymphatic cancer.
He leaves behind a Foundation in Amsterdam and a project space in Ljubljana, both of which he founded in November of last year on the occasion of his 76th birthday. A major retrospective of his work is also due to open at Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in November of this year.
For 12 years, Ulay and Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović were the envy of the art world. Lovers and collaborators, they met in 1976 in Amsterdam and in the decade they lived together they produced 14 “relation works,” most of which were conceived with a collective desire to rid of individual egos and become one through performance art.
In an Instagram post, Abramović writes, “It is with great sadness I learned about my friend and former partner Ulay’s death today. He was an exceptional artist and human being, who will be deeply missed. On this day, it is comforting to know that his art and legacy will live on forever.”
The art world is oft full of bittersweet love stories, but rarely does one capture so many hearts as Ulay and Marina Abramović.
A breathtaking performance that saw Ulay and Abramović balance on opposite sides of a drawn bow and arrow, with the arrow pointed at Abramović’s heart. With just one finger, Ulay could have easily killed Abramović. Additionally Abramović held the handle of the bow, which was pointed back at herself too. The work not only tested their physical and mental limits, but symbolically suggested the power dominance of man over woman.