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Hilary Pyle

(b Dublin, Sept 22, 1943).

Irish painter and printmaker . He studied architecture at Bolton Street Technical School, Dublin, from 1961 to 1964. While acting as assistant to Michael Farrell in 1967, he was introduced to hard-edge abstraction and decided to learn to paint. His natural inclination was towards figurative art, initially in his use of the figure as a silhouette in the Marchers series and subsequently in 3rd May—Goya (1970; Dublin, Hugh Lane Mun. Gal.) and other pastiches of paintings by Poussin, Ingres and Delacroix, in which he filled in the outline with flat colour. Such early works were heavily influenced by photography and by a social or political commitment, reinforced with a striking visual wit. These were followed by paintings satirizing the awakening interest in contemporary art in Dublin, as in Woman with Pierre Soulages (1972; Dublin, Bank of Ireland Col.) in which a figure is shown scrutinizing an abstract canvas.

A visit to Brussels, where Ballagh studied the work of Magritte, led him gradually to model his figures, both in portraits and in quasi-Surrealist autobiographical works, in a Photorealist technique in which he alluded to his artistic preoccupations and to his wife and family. The stylistic features of his paintings lent themselves also to silkscreen prints. He has photographed unusual aspects of Dublin architecture, which he published in book form as ...

Article

Aleca Le Blanc

(b São Paulo, Jun 20, 1914; d São Paulo, Dec 22, 2010).

Brazilian visual artist and designer. The formal training Barsotti received was in drawing and chemistry, and by the 1950s he had established a professional career in design, working in São Paulo during the postwar period. From 1954 to 1964 he ran a studio with Willys de Castro (1926–1988), a life-long collaborator and fellow artist, called Estúdio de Projetos Gráficos, where he created costume design, graphic design, and textile design, among other things. During this period he focused his artistic efforts exclusively on geometric abstraction, then the dominant style of the avant-garde in Brazil under the rubric of Concrete art. However, Barsotti did not immediately affiliate with any of the groups that promoted it, such as the dogmatic Grupo Ruptura in São Paulo. He was not, strictly speaking, a devotee of Concrete art, which required that the geometric composition be entirely preconceived, divorced from observed reality, and visually represent a mathematical formula. On this matter, de Castro applauded his friend in a ...

Article

The term ‘expressionism’ refers in general to the deliberate distortion and exaggeration of forms for expressive effect in artworks. It may also be used with reference to particular historical or cultural iterations—as in (most commonly) German Expressionism, which refers to specific artists and practices of the early 20th century (see Expressionism). Both approaches are useful in the context of American art history. For example, the expressive qualities of the work of such 19th-century artists as Albert Pinkham Ryder or George Inness have long been noted in histories of American art and artists. Attention has focused as well on groups of artists active at mid-century in America’s urban centres who adopted the term as a conscious description of themselves and their intentions.

Prior to 1914 Expressionism was understood more or less to be a synonym of Post-Impressionism, the somewhat ambiguous name coined by British art historian Roger Fry to describe a group of mostly French artists including Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin. In the context of an early appearance in a ...

Article

Blanca Serrano Ortiz de Solórzano

(b Havana, May 30, 1915).

Cuban painter and sculptor active in the USA. Enjoying an extraordinarily long career, Herrera received critical and financial recognition very late in her life, selling her first painting at the age of 89. Raised in an intellectual milieu in Havana, she attended finishing school in Paris. Back in Cuba, where the political turmoil affected access to education, Herrera studied sculpture at the women’s organization The Lyceum and Lawn Tennis Club. In 1938 she enrolled in Architecture at Universidad de La Habana, an experience that left a significant impression in Herrera’s creative thinking. An active participant of the Cuban arts scene then, she was close to avant-garde artist Amelia Peláez.

In 1939 Herrera married the American Jesse Lowenthal, with whom she moved to New York City. During this period, Herrera studied at the Art Students League, and she befriended Barnett Newman and Leon Polk Smith. From 1948 to 1954 she and her husband lived in Paris. While in France, Herrera exhibited five times at the Salon des Realités Nouvelles, an association of international abstract artists with a special focus on concrete painting. She also met Yves Klein and American expat artists, and saw the work of Russian Constructivists and of the multidisciplinary Swiss artist, Max Bill. These encounters nurtured her paintings from that period, which evolved from a Surrealist-inflected lyrical abstraction to a vibrant and rhythmic geometric abstraction....

Article

Francis Summers

(b Scotland, 1945).

Scottish abstract artist. Johnston studied at Edinburgh School of Art from 1964 until 1969, when he completed his BA. He moved to London to study at the Royal College of Art, where he was awarded his MA in 1972. Resident in Edinburgh, he has exhibited extensively in America, especially New York. He formulated his method of working early in his career, concentrating on the simple format of wall based drawings with pencil. An early work, Wall Drawing (1973; see 1988 exh. cat., p. 15), executed at Galerie Konrad Fischer in Düsseldorf, is a faint, slightly wobbly, triangle. Made in a rough style, this work has an austere yet imprecise geometry. Using the same technique for much of his career, Johnston made many wall drawings, all with the same title (Wall Drawing), and the same feeling of an imprecise geometric presence. He has also made paintings, such as ...

Article

Francis Summers

(b Brunswick, ME, May 3, 1961).

American sculptor and painter active in Sweden. He studied at the State University of New York, Purchase, graduating in 1985. His work draws on his experience of working methods in the carpentry business. Unwilling to interfere with the material he chooses to work with, such as kitchen cabinets or unplastered walls, he reframes the work as a kind of pragmatic abstraction. His arrangements of modular furniture stripped of its original function, as in Surface Habitat for Appliance (1997; see 1998 exh. cat., p. 129) closely resemble the work of the De Stijl group, bringing to mind especially the compositions of Piet Mondrian. Ketter’s recreation of dry wall surfaces as paintings, such as his White Wall Painting (1992; see 1995 exh. cat., p. 14) could be described as a reversal of the conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner’s removal of an area of wall surfaces from various gallery sites in 1968...

Article

Anna Bentkowska

(b Warsaw, May 25, 1948).

Polish painter. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (1965–71) under Stefan Gierowski. After a short period of abstract painting he began to create his ‘autobiographical paintings’, which he described as ‘subjected to perceived reality’ (1980 exh. cat.). At first Korolkiewicz painted rather naive, large-scale portraits of a little boy in childhood situations such as playing on a slide. He also depicted interiors and landscapes with photographic precision by means of transparencies. In 1978 he painted Breakfast (Warsaw, N. Mus.), a pensive portrait of himself at a table with a half-eaten meal. This work exemplifies Korolkiewicz’s debt to Photorealism and his interest in depicting real situations, people and places, but, because of the distressing silence, eerie light and lack of activity, it also gives a surrealist image of the world. The Garden of the Romantic (1978; Kraków, N. Mus.) initiated the series of ...

Article

Francis Summers

(b Jersey City, NJ, 30 July,1948).

American painter. He studied at the School of Visual Arts, New York, from 1975 until 1977. He then went on to the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia. His early paintings were reminiscent of the work of Matisse, with saturated colour fields combined with schematically rendered images, such as his 5 of Spades (1978; see 1997 exh. cat., p. 49), in which a chair, a television set, and a woman are surrounded by wriggling pink abstract forms. His work became far more abstract by the time of Main Event (1981; see 1997 exh. cat., p. 55), where the subject of the picture became the almost brutal working of thick paint over a smooth, patterned ground. Taking the decision-making process of painting as one of his themes, Lasker concentrated on using a system of precisely enlarging small studies. Turning little scribbles and doodles into vast organic, almost faecal, bodies of paint, Lasker emptied the painterly gesture of any heroism. Combining this ironic approach with a strong visual sense and a concern with the devices used in abstract painting (such as the grid, the colour field, the mark and the figure/ground relationship), Lasker produced a form of abstraction that was very knowing of its origins. In ...

Article

Iliana Cepero

(b Rio de Janeiro, 1960).

Brazilian painter, mixed media artist, and installation artist. From 1980 to 1982 she studied at the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro. Some of her fellow students were the painters Adriana Varejão and Daniel Senise (b 1955). Milhazes belongs to a generation of Brazilian artists who emerged in the 1980s and returned to painting. Some of these artists were Leda Catunda (b 1961), Jac Leirner, Cristina Canale (b 1961), José Leonilson (1957–1993), along with Varejão and Senise.

Her work is characterized by the use of vibrant colors and kaleidoscopic motifs drawn from Brazilian visual culture, including the floats and costumes of carnival, antique lacework, Baroque architecture, ceramics, and music. Her recurring set of circular, linear, and symmetrical colorful forms are carefully distributed inside a grid structure. She found inspiration in a wide variety of artists and movements, in Brazil and abroad, including Tarsila, Matisse, Bridget Riley, Sonia Delaunay, Mondrian, Cruz Diez, Constructivism, and geometric abstraction....

Article

Lisa Blackmore

(b Cali, Sept 2, 1955).

Colombian painter, sculptor, illustrator, and collage and installation artist. Roldán graduated in architecture from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá in 1979, then moved to Paris to study art history at the Ecole du Louvre and La Sorbonne and modern engraving at Stanley W. Hayter’s Atelier 17.

Defying the use of signature themes or motifs, Roldán draws on a broad pool of references, from mythology to art history and literature, to create works that reflect on the transitory nature of life cycles, engaging with intimate processes of the passage of time and everyday detritus in order to create rich palimpsests and repurposed objects. His early paintings, such as Reflections (1989, 1990, and 1991), embraced abstraction, amorphous forms, bold color, and strong lines, that suggest the influence of the American abstract painters whose work he encountered after moving to Milwaukee, USA, in 1981. Quotidian experiences and recycled materials are recurrently present in such works as the time-based ...

Article

Natalia Vega

(b Pitalito, Huila, Jan 5, 1957).

Colombian painter. Salas has been recognized for his contribution to the regeneration of expressionist painting especially by expanding the reaches of abstract painting through the incorporation of context and a personal narrative.

Salas studied architecture at Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá; from 1982 he devoted himself to painting and moved to Paris where he lived until 1987. He studied at Ecole de Beaux-Arts where he participated in an exhibition with fellow Colombian students (1984) and later on, in 1988, in the exhibition Doce Mundos Colombianos at the 39th Salon de la Jeune Peinture at Petit Palais and several cities in Colombia. He began exhibiting in Colombia in 1987 and participated in institutional events such as Salón Nacional (1990), which were followed by other exhibitions in Venezuela and Costa Rica. His works, constructed by the assemblage of square paintings of diverse sizes, and multiple superimposed layers of painting and marks, which stressed their physical and structural qualities, soon gained recognition and positioned him as a solid and articulate exponent of abstract painting. He was supported by critics who highlighted the formal constructive and coloristic aspects of his work; the Museum of Modern Art of Bogotá organized a retrospective exhibition in ...

Article

(b Dublin, June 30, 1945).

American painter of Irish birth. He moved to England with his family in 1949. Scully studied at Croydon College of Art (1965–7), and then studied and taught at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1967–71), and in the USA at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (1972–3). In 1975 he was awarded a Harkness Fellowship and established his studio in New York, where he settled, becoming an American citizen in 1983. His early paintings were identified with the vigorous debates of the early 1970s about art and language. In Orange Slide (1972) and Amber (1972–3; both London, Mayor Rowan Gal.), elaborately meshed grid structures challenged critical response with their insistent syncopated rhythm and vibrant impact. From the early 1980s Scully’s increasing awareness of the arid effect of formal abstraction led to a simplification of means with greater breadth of handling and pictorial construction. Paintings integrated irregular panels superimposed to produce central motifs of vertical stripes within broad bands of contrasting hues. Scully’s progress was distinguished by a remarkable and sometimes unfashionable commitment to the fundamental concerns of abstract art. In the 1990s and 2000s he explored the interconnectedness of his photographs, paintings, and works on paper, tracing the transformation of shapes, colours, and textures of walls, windows, and bricks in various lights from the photographs into paintings and related works on paper (...