In the modern era, there have been a variety of new works, concepts and artists which have led to new kinds of performance art. Andy Warhol was noted for staging new types of mass events and performance art in New York, notably with the Velvet Underground and also with the Warhol Superstars. Laurie Anderson's performance art has been staged at a number of major venues, such as Lincoln Center. Modern artistic concepts such as surrealism and dadaism were used by several artists to produce new kinds of performance art.
In the 1960s, an increasing number of artists produced new forms of performance art, including Yves Klein, Allan Kaprow—who coined the term Happenings—Carolee Schneemann, Hermann Nitsch,Yoko Ono, Wolf Vostell, Joseph Beuys, Barbara T. Smith, Vito Acconci, the women associated with the Feminist Studio Workshop and the Woman's Building in Los Angeles, and Chris Burden. But performance art was certainly anticipated, if not explicitly formulated, by Japan's Gutai group of the 1950s, especially in such works as Atsuko Tanaka's "Electric Dress" (1956) . In 1970 the British-based pair Gilbert and George created the first of their "living sculpture" performances when they painted themselves gold and sang "Underneath The Arches" for extended periods. Jud Yalkut, a pioneering video artist, and others, such as Carolee Schneemann and Sandra Binion, began combining video with other media to create experimental works. Guerrilla theater, or street theater, including performances by students and others, have regularly appeared within the ranks of antiwar movements.
The anarchist antiwar group the Yippies, partly organized by Abbie Hoffmann, performed street theater when they dropped hundreds of dollar bills from the balcony of the Stock Exchange in New York. Latino, Latin-American, and other street theater groups, including those like the San Francisco Mime Troupe, that stem from circus and traveling theater traditions, should also be mentioned. Although they may not be not direct antecedents of art-world performance, their influence, particularly in the United States should be noted— as should that of the U.S. conceptual artist Sol Lewitt, who in the early 1960s converted mural-style drawing into an act of performance by others. Performance art, because of its relative transience, had a fairly robust presence in the avant-garde of East Bloc countries, especially Yugoslavia and Poland, by the 1970s.
Western cultural theorists often trace performance art activity back to the beginning of the 20th century.Dada, for example, provided a significant progenitor with the unconventional performances of poetry, often at the Cabaret Voltaire, by the likes of Richard Huelsenbeck and Tristan Tzara. There were also Russian Futurist artists who could be identified as performance artists, such as David Burliuk, who painted his face for his actions (1910-20). However, there are accounts of Renaissance artists putting on public performances that could be said to be early ancestors of modern performance art. Some performance artists and theorists point to other traditions and histories, ranging from tribal to sporting and ritual or religious events. Performance art activity is not confined to European or American art traditions; many notable practitioners can be found in Asia and Latin America.