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Article

Andrew Weiner

(b Beirut, 1925).

Lebanese painter and writer active in the USA. Daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, Adnan was educated in Lebanon before going on to study philosophy at the Sorbonne, Harvard, and the University of California, Berkeley. For many years she taught aesthetics at Dominican College, San Rafael, CA; she also lectured and taught at many other colleges and universities. During the 1970s Adnan regularly contributed editorials, essays, and cultural criticism to the Beirut-based publications Al-Safa and L’Orient-Le Jour. In 1978 she published the novel Sitt Marie Rose, which won considerable acclaim for its critical portrayal of cultural and social politics during the early years of the Lebanese Civil War. Adnan published numerous books of poetry, originating in her opposition to the American war in Vietnam and proceeding to encompass topics as diverse as the landscape of Northern California and the geopolitics of the Middle East. Her poetry served as the basis for numerous works of theater and contemporary classical music....

Article

Klaus Ottmann

American not-for-profit organization founded in 1909 that initiates and organizes art exhibitions and provides educational and professional programs in collaboration with the museum community. Established by an act of Congress in 1909, after former Secretary of State and US Senator Elihu Root called for the founding of an organization “whose purpose is to promote the study of art, the cultivation of public taste, and the application of art to the development of material conditions in our country,” the American Federation of Arts (AFA) is one of the oldest art organizations in the country and serves nearly 300 museum members in the USA and abroad. Root’s then revolutionary proposal was unanimously endorsed by representatives of 80 American art institutions in attendance. Among the 35 founders, in addition to Root, were presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, as well as artist William Merritt Chase and businessmen Mellon family §(1), and J(ohn) Pierpont Morgan...

Article

Deborah Cullen

One of the oldest and largest artist-run schools of art instruction in the USA. The Arts Students League (ASL) was founded in 1875 by and for art students, many of whom were women. It opened largely in response to student dissatisfaction with the classes and conservative leadership at the National Academy of Design (NAD), then the predominant school of art instruction. The Academy had been founded in 1825 by artists including Samuel F(inley) B(reese) Morse, Asher B(rown) Durand, and Thomas Cole. Faced with financial difficulty, it was rumored that live figure drawing classes were to be canceled at the Academy, and therefore students and concerned teachers called for a meeting to initiate a new program of art instruction. The Art Students League was independently funded by tuition fees and vowed that life drawing would always be available. The mission of the ASL remains to emphasize the importance of artistic creativity, to maintain the greatest respect for artists who devote their lives to art and to educate students in the process of making art in an environment where anyone who wishes to pursue an art education can realize their full potential....

Article

Matico Josephson

American multi-ethnic arts organization based in New York’s Chinatown. The Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) and its predecessors, the Asian American Dance Theatre (1974–93) and the Asian Arts Institute (1981–8), emerged from the milieu of the Basement Workshop, the first working group of the Asian American Movement on the East Coast, whose mouthpiece was the journal Bridge (1970–81). After the closing of the Basement Workshop in 1987, the Dance Theatre and the Asian Arts Institute were consolidated as the AAAC.

Directed by Eleanor S. Yung, the Dance Theatre was at the core of the organization’s activities from the 1970s through the early 1990s, performing traditional dances from several Asian cultures alongside modern and postmodern forms. In the early 1980s, the Asian Arts Institute began to hold exhibitions and collect slides of artists’ work and documentation of their activities, working primarily with artists involved in the downtown art scene. Early programs included open studio events for artists working in Chinatown and exhibitions of the work of Arlan Huang (...

Article

(b Brooklyn, NY, Nov 4, 1940).

American graphic designer, installation artist and design educator. De Bretteville attended Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, NY, and was included in the school’s Art Squad by teacher and artist Leon Friend, who submitted his students’ work to national competitions. She received a prestigious Alex Award, named after the designer Alex Steinweiss, also a former member of the Art Squad. She received a BA in art history from Barnard College, New York in 1962 and received her MFA in the graphic design program at Yale University’s School of Art in 1964. She joined the faculty of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and founded the first design programme for women in 1970. In 1981 she founded the communication design programme at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles (now the Otis College of Art and Design), which was at the time affiliated with the Parsons School of Design in New York. In ...

Article

Sharon Matt Atkins

(b Oakland, CA, Aug 26, 1925; d Tucson, AZ, June 4, 2009).

American painter, printmaker and teacher. Colescott produced highly expressive and gestural paintings that addressed a wide range of social and cultural themes and challenged stereotypes. Interested in issues of race, gender and power, his work critiqued the representation of minorities in literature, history, art and popular culture. Stylistically, his work is indebted to European modernism, particularly Cubism and Expressionism, but also makes references to African sculpture, African American art and post–World War II American styles.

Colescott was introduced to art at an early age. His mother was a pianist and his father was a classically-trained violinist and jazz musician. Through his parents’ social circles, he often found himself surrounded by creative individuals as he was growing up, like his artistic mentor, the sculptor Sargent Johnson (1888–1967). Colescott received his BA in 1949 and later his MFA in 1952 from the University of California, Berkeley. He also studied with ...

Article

James Smalls

(b New York, NY, Dec 9, 1919; d New York, NY, Oct 27, 2009).

American photographer and teacher. A central figure in post-war American photography, DeCarava strongly believed ‘in the power of art to illuminate and transform our lives’. Using Harlem as his subject, DeCarava created groundbreaking pictures of everyday life in that enclave of New York. He is also known for scenes of civil rights protests of the early 1960s, images of jazz musicians, and lyrical studies of nature.

DeCarava studied painting and printmaking at the Cooper Union School of Art, the Harlem Community Art Center, and the George Washington Art School. He took up photography in the late 1940s and quickly mastered its vocabulary. In 1952, DeCarava won a Guggenheim Fellowship—the first awarded to an African American photographer. The scholarship allowed him to spend a year photographing daily life in Harlem. These pictures brought a new moderation and intimacy to the photographing of African Americans and their social environment. Perhaps his most memorable photographs were those that appeared in the book ...

Article

Native American (Eastern Band of Cherokee), 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1957, in Baltimore.

Multimedia artist, photographer, illustrator, basket-weaver with paper.

Shan Goshorn, given the Cherokee Wolf Clan name of Yellow Moon, began training in silversmithing at the Cleveland Institute of Art and transferred to the Atlanta College of Art for her final year, receiving a BFA degree in painting and photography (double major) in ...

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

G. Lola Worthington

(b Buffalo, NY, 1950).

Tuscarora artist, writer, educator, and museum director. Hill studied at the Art Institute of Chicago (1968–70), and was awarded a Master of Arts degree from SUNY, Buffalo, NY (1980).

Intrigued with Seneca General Ely Parker (General Grant’s Military Secretary), Hill investigated Parker’s life, which took him to Washington, DC, for two years. Hill began to identify with Parker’s experience and realized he would devote himself to enlightening others about Native American arts, knowledge, education, and culture.

Hill was skilled in painting, photography, carving, beading, and basket weaving, and many of these works are located at the Canadian Museum of Civilizations, Quebec; the Woodland Indian Cultural Center, Brantford, Ontario; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK; the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, Washington, DC; and the Seneca Iroquois National Museum, Salamanca, NY. He taught at McMaster University, Mohawk College, Six Nations Polytechnic, and SUNY at Buffalo. Hill developed a culturally based Seneca Language curriculum and training models for teaching....

Article

Native American (Wintu-Nomtipom/Tenai), 20th–21st century, male.

Born 5 October 1937, in San Francisco.

Artist, poet, writer, traditional dancer.

Frank LaPena, of the Wintu-Nomtipom/Tenai of Northern California, is a key figure, along with a number of other important Native artists working in California during the 1970s, in what has been termed a ‘Renaissance’ in California Indian arts. Many of LaPena’s artworks engage directly with his awareness of California Indian experience and memory. He has used Mount Shasta significantly as a source of inspiration. As was usual for his generation, he attended a federal Indian boarding school (in Stewart, Nevada) and experienced its harsh assimilationist doctrines. He began to be interested in the arts during high school and this developed further during his undergraduate years at California State University, Chico. Later earning a teaching credential at San Francisco State University and a Masters of Arts degree at CSU, Sacramento, he would eventually teach at the latter as Professor of Art and Ethnic Studies. He has said that he learnt more from his California Indian elders than anything presented to him in the state education system. Now retired, he continues to hold leadership roles in the arts both locally and nationally....

Article

Native American (Seneca and Tuscarora), 20th–21st century, male.

Born 1942, in Oshweken (Ontario).

Artist, educator, writer, curator.

George Longfish is a distinguished and internationally respected artist whose works often blend humour with a note of irony to draw attention to the problems of representation and stereotypic formulations found in many images and beliefs concerning American Indians. This is shown most effectively in the work ...

Article

Native American (Tongva-Acjachemen), 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1952, in California.

Painter, writer, tribal scholar, cartoonist, basket weaver, illustrator, indigenous language activist.

As cofounder of Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival, L. Frank Manriquez, a California Indian artist and activist, has become particularly associated with the movement for language revitalisation and recovery of indigenous knowledge in the state. A multi-talented figure with a gift for humour, especially in her cartoon works, she has exhibited nationally and internationally, and is a board member of the Cultural Conservancy, supporting indigenous rights, self-determination and the protection of native lands. She also makes and teaches about baskets and is a board member of the California Indian Basketweavers Association. As the author of ...

Article

Dennis Raverty

(b Birmingham, AL, Oct 17, 1955).

African American painter, writer, film production designer, and multimedia installation artist. Marshall’s works portray idealized subjects derived from African American experience in large-scale, multiple-figure paintings and installations that share many characteristics with European history painting in the “grand manner” of Peter Paul Rubens, Benjamin West, Jacques-Louis David, and the 19th-century academic tradition. This “high culture” Euro-American tradition is juxtaposed with elements of African American vernacular culture in order to reinsert African American subjects and aesthetics into the larger mainstream of America’s artistic and cultural history—a history from which, the artist believes, blacks have been largely excluded.

Marshall was born in Birmingham, AL, one of the most segregated cities in the United States at that time, and the site of civil rights demonstrations in the early 1960s. He moved with his parents in 1963 to Nickerson Gardens public housing project in Watts, CA, just a few years before the riots there. Consequently, the struggles of the civil rights movement profoundly affected him and are a major theme in his mature work....

Article

Benjamin Flowers

[Thom]

(b Waterbury, CT, Jan 19, 1944).

American architect and educator. Mayne trained at the University of Southern California (BA 1968) and Harvard (MArch 1978) and his work is influenced by the twin traditions of Russian Constructivism and Postmodern deconstruction. Many of his buildings grapple with both questions of form (in particular its relation to program) and the shifting nature of materials. He, along with Frank O(wen) Gehry, is among the best known of a generation of West Coast architects to emerge from the turbulent social and cultural milieu of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

As a young boy Mayne moved with his mother to Whittier, CA, where he was, by his own account, something of a loner and a misfit. Mayne matriculated at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, but soon transferred to the University of Southern California whose faculty at the time included Craig Ellwood, Gregory Ain and Ralph Knowles. After completing his bachelor of architecture in ...

Article

Alissa Walker

(b Decatur, IL, Oct 12, 1945).

American graphic designer and design educator. In 1964 a trip to the Museum of Modern Art during the New York World’s Fair exposed Katherine McCoy to the world of design, yet when she applied to Michigan State University intending to major in architecture, the counsellor suggested the more historically female profession of interior design. She enrolled in the industrial design programme, receiving a BA in 1967, and took her first job as a graphic designer at Unimark International, Detroit. The corporate design firm was where McCoy was exposed to the stark simplicity of modernist and Swiss design, with an emphasis on typography, both influential for McCoy’s subsequent work. After a year at Chrysler Corporation’s Corporate Identity Office, McCoy worked at the Boston firm Omnigraphics, and then at Designers and Partners, an advertising design studio in Detroit.

In 1971 McCoy founded the practice McCoy & McCoy, Inc. with her husband, the industrial designer Michael McCoy (...

Article

Gary Schwartz

[Jean-Michel]

(b Paris, Oct 3, 1928; d Branford, CT, July 26, 2005).

French art historian and economist, active in the USA. Montias was a specialist in Eastern European command economies who in mid-career changed fields and became a historian of Dutch painting. His interest in the subject was threefold. Before he began writing on Dutch art, he collected it, with the advice of a leading specialist in the field, Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, a fellow professor at Yale University. This led him to pursue knowledge concerning the minor masters he could afford, which brought him closer to the basics of the Dutch art world. It was an approach diametrically opposed to how most students learn about this material, which is from the iconic masterworks down. His second focus of interest was economic. Three-quarters of a century after the appearance of the last, largely anecdotal survey of the economics of Dutch art, by Hanns Floerke, Montias applied the techniques of neo-classical economics to the field in a way that was accessible to art historians. Entirely on his own, he opened up new perspectives that inspired art historians, economists, and economic historians alike to revisit the subject of Dutch art. Thirdly, Montias was entranced by the ...

Article

Deborah Cullen

[MoMA] (New York)

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was founded in 1929 by patrons Lillie P(lummer) Bliss, Cornelius J. Sullivan and Rockefeller family §(1) to establish an institution devoted to modern art. Over the next ten years the Museum moved three times and in 1939 settled in the Early Modern style building (1938–9) designed by Philip S. Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone that it still occupies at 11 West 53 Street. Subsequent renovations and expansions occurred in the 1950s and 1960s by Philip Johnson, in 1984 by Cesar Pelli and in 2002–4 by Yoshirō Taniguchi (b 1937). MoMA QNS, the temporary headquarters during this project, was subsequently used to provide art storage. In 2000, MoMA and the contemporary art space, P.S.1, Long Island City, Queens, announced their affiliation. Recent projects are shown at P.S.1 in Queens in a renovated public school building.

According to founding director, Alfred H(amilton) Barr...

Article

Deborah Cullen

(Raphel)

(b Brooklyn, New York, 1934).

American performance artist, educator and founder of El Museo del Barrio, New York. Ortiz grew up in New York and received his BFA and MFA from Pratt Institute in 1964, and his PhD in Fine Arts and Fine Arts in Higher Education at the Teachers College of Columbia University, 1982.

In the late 1950s, Ortiz began exploring ritual and destruction. Taking found filmstrips, he placed them in a medicine bag and used a hatchet to cut them into pieces. He then spliced them together in random order, creating a series of short, cut-up films. This led to his first private, ritually transformed domestic objects between 1959 and 1961, which often included cushions, chairs and sofas from his studio worked over several days, and the Archaeological Finds series between 1961 and 1967. He authored Destructivism: A Manifesto between 1957 and 1962.

Carrying out public Destruction Ritual Realizations between 1965 and 1970...

Article

Native American (Crow), 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1981, in Billings (Montana).

3D, collage and installation artist, photographer, printmaker.

Wendy Red Star, member of the Crow Nation and niece of noted Crow painter Kevin Red Star, works in a variety of media to produce multi-layered artworks which point to complexities in indigenous North American experience today. Drawing particularly on her years growing up near to the Crow Indian Reservation in Northern Montana, in collages such as ...