Born in New York City in 1935, Eleanor Antin draws inspiration from history, using motifs and symbols in her work derived from ancient Rome, the Crimean War, nineteenth-century Europe, and her own Jewish heritage and Yiddish culture. Working in a wide range of media, including painting, performance, film, photography, and installation, Antin often recreate scenes form historical eras, paying close attention to details such as costume. In some of her photographs, Antin interjects historical motifs into contemporary scenes, using history as a way to explore the present. As a performance artist Antin shifts between different personas, blurring the line between identity and character. Her best-known alternate persona is "Eleanora Antinova," personifying the discounted black ballerina of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
Antin has received numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1997 and a Media Achievement Award from the National Foundation for the Jewish Culture in 1998. She has had numerous solo exhibitions, including a major retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1999.