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James Smalls

(b Somerville, NJ, 1955).

African American sculptor, printmaker, and conceptual artist. He grew up in New Jersey and attended the Boston University School of Fine Arts, the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League of New York City. Cole is best known for assembling and transforming ordinary domestic objects, such as irons, ironing boards, high-heeled shoes, lawn jockeys, hair dryers, bicycle parts and other discarded appliances and hardware into imaginative and powerful configurations and installations embedded with references to the African American experience and inspired by West African religion, mythology and culture. Visual puns and verbal play characterized his works, thereby creating layered meanings. The objects he chose were often discarded mass-produced American products that had themselves acquired an alternate history through their previous handling and use.

In 1989, he became attracted to the motif of the steam iron both for its form and for its perceived embodiment of the experience and history of the unknown persons who had previously used it. He referred to the earliest versions of these irons as ‘Household Gods’ and ‘Domestic Demons’. With them, he engaged with ideas utilizing not only the found object but also the repetitive scorch mark of the iron arranged in either purely decorative patterns or in such ways as to suggest a face or African mask (...

Article

Native American (Cheyenne and Arapaho), 20th–21st century, male.

Born 22 November, 1954, in Wichita (Kansas).

Painter, draughtsman, sculptor, printmaker, installation artist, conceptual artist, educator.

Edgar Heap of Birds is one of the most distinguished North American indigenous artists of his generation. His works reveal a distinctly critical and historical awareness of the ways that American Indian peoples, their histories and their viewpoints have been ignored and written over under colonialism. He has received numerous honours, presenting his work in competition for the United States Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale (...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1930, in Bellingham (Washington State).

Engraver, lithographer, installation artist, sculptor.

Conceptual Art.

David Ireland studied industrial design and printmaking at the Californian College of Arts and Crafts, graduating in 1953. He worked as an architectural draughtsman, a carpenter and an African safari guide before returning to art education in the 1970s. In ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Active in Italy.

Born 9 September 1928, in Hartford (Connecticut); died 8 April 2007, in New York.

Painter (gouache), installation artist, sculptor, engraver, draughtsman, illustrator. Artists’ books.

Conceptual Art, Minimal Art.

From 1945 to 1949 Sol LeWitt was a student at the University of Syracuse, New York. In 1951–1952 he did military service in Japan and Korea. By 1953 he was studying in New York at Cartoons Illustrators, which later became the School of Visual Arts. He worked for the magazine ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 9 February 1931, in Kansas City.

Sculptor, painter, performance artist, draughtsman, engraver.

Conceptual Art, Minimal Art, Process Art, Antiform.

From 1948 to 1950 Robert Morris studied engineering and art at the University of Kansas City and from 1950 to 1952 at the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco. In 1961 he studied art history at Hunter College, New York. He settled in Gardiner, New York State....