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Article

Carol Magee

(b Dec 8, 1956).

Ethiopian painter, installation artist, graphic designer, and writer, active in the USA. She grew up in Addis Ababa in a family of painters before moving to the USA. She graduated from Howard University, Washington, DC, with a BFA in painting (1975) and returned in 1994 for an MFA. Her early works, based on dreams or visions, have richly textured surfaces. In the 1980s she abandoned her early palette of reds, ochres, and greens for one of purples and blues. Later paintings depict an urban environment and frequently evoke the feeling of dislocation and nostalgia that comes from living in a country that is not one’s own. Her use of themes and motifs from myriad cultures (including those of Ethiopia and Latin America) comes out of her experiences as a diasporic subject as well as the lives of the women around her. Her pieces often tell their stories, as in the Dream Dancers series (...

Article

Dennis Raverty

(b Charlotte, NC, Sept 2, 1911 or 1912; d New York City, Mar 12, 1988).

African American painter, collagist, and author. Bearden is best known for his collages, which often addressed urban themes (e.g. The Dove). He was a founding member of Spiral, a group of African American artists who started meeting at his downtown New York studio in 1963. He also published essays and cartoons, designed book jackets, magazine and album covers, and is widely regarded as the first African American artist to successfully enter the mainstream of the contemporary art world. The posthumously published book he co-authored with Harry Henderson, A History of African-American Artists: From 1792 to the Present (1993), in a very short time became an almost canonical text in the field.

Bearden’s family moved permanently to Harlem, a predominately black neighborhood of New York City, in 1920. His mother, Bessye Bearden, was the New York correspondent for the Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper, and through her Bearden was introduced to many of the artists, writers, and intellectuals associated with the ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 2 September 1911, in Charlotte (North Carolina); died 12 March 1988, in New York.

Painter (including gouache), watercolourist, lithographer, screen printer, engraver, collage artist, newspaper cartoonist, illustrator, art theorist. Religious subjects, figure compositions, local figures. Humorous cartoons, frontispieces, stage sets...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Staten Island, NY, Feb 18, 1926; d Los Angeles, CA, Feb 18, 1976).

American collagist and poet. After a short period in the US Navy, Berman studied briefly in Los Angeles at the Chouinard Art School and the Jepson Art School in 1944. Later he was associated with the Beat artists and writers, and with experimental art on the West Coast. In 1955 he started Semina magazine, a hand-printed poetry journal produced in very limited editions until 1964. This contained poems by many Beat writers, including his own works under the nom de plume Pantale Xantos. In 1956 Berman began making ‘parchment paintings’, thin paper inscribed with random Hebrew letters mounted on canvas, perhaps making reference to the vogue for ancient writings inspired by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. Twelve such works were exhibited at his first solo exhibition, at the Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles (1957). This exhibition resulted in his arrest and the gallery’s temporary closure, as well as the destruction of the exhibited works on the grounds of pornography. After a period of disenchantment, Berman began in the early 1960s to make works using a Verifax, a primitive photo-reproductive machine that produced sepia-toned images. Many of the Verifax works used the repeated image of a hand holding a transistor radio with an image pasted over it as if it were a small television (...

Article

Michelle Yun

(b New York, Feb 5, 1960).

American multimedia artist, curator, and writer. Blake received a BA from Bard College, Annadale-on-Hudson, NY, in 1982 and an MFA from the California Institute of Arts in Valencia in 1984. Upon graduation he moved to San Francisco where he worked as a curator at New Langton Arts, San Francisco, until his return to New York in 1996. Most notable of his curated exhibitions was In a Different Light, at the University Art Museum, Berkeley, in 1995, the first museum exhibition to examine the influence of lesbian and gay artists on contemporary art. In 2003 Blake became the founding Chair of the International Center of Photography/Bard Masters Program in Advanced Photographic Studies at the International Center for Photography in New York.

Blake’s performances, installations, and curated exhibitions have consistently tackled issues relating to sexuality, race, and representation. In his youth the artist was influenced by Joseph Cornell, and early sculptures such as ...

Article

Margaret Barlow

(b Pittsburgh, PA, Aug 23, 1940).

American conceptual artist, draughtsman, painter, and writer. He studied painting at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh (BFA, 1962). In 1964 Bochner moved to New York. His first exhibition (1966), described by Benjamin Buchloch as the first conceptual art exhibition, was held at the Visual Arts Gallery, School of Visual Arts, New York, and titled Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to be Viewed as Art. In his work he investigated the relation between thinking and seeing. In his first mature works (1966), which are both conceptual and perceptual in basis and philosophical in content, he was interested to eliminate the ‘object’ in art and to communicate his own feelings and personal experience, and he did not wish to accept established art-historical conventions. He also experimented with word-drawings (see fig.) and number systems. For his Measurement series (late 1960s) he used black tape and Letraset to create line drawings accompanied by measurements directly on to walls, effectively making large-scale diagrams of the rooms in which they were installed. Bochner continued to make series of installational line drawings into the 1970s and 1980s, but from ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1950, in Brook Alexander, New York.

Installation artist, video artist, poet.

David Bunn graduated with a master's degree from the University of California at Los Angeles and has received several awards and fellowships including two National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowships, the City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship and the Ethel Fortner Award for creative writing....

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 7 June 1931, in Eatonton (Georgia).

Painter, draughtsman (including ink), collage artist, print artist, sculptor, collector, art historian. Religious subjects, figures, portraits, figure compositions, scenes with figures, landscapes. Designs for stained glass.

David C. Driskell earned a BFA at Howard University in ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 27 September 1965, in Billings (Montana).

Installation artist, performance artist, video artist, writer. Multimedia.

Andrea Fraser studied at the School for Visual Arts (1982(1983) and at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, New York (...

Article

Deborah Cullen

(b Mexico City, 1955).

Mexican–American performance and installation artist and writer. Guillermo Gómez-Peña studied linguistics and Latin American literature at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (1974–8) in Mexico City. He moved to Los Angeles in 1978 and received both his BA (1981) and his MA (1983) from the California Institute of the Arts. A performance artist, writer, activist and educator, Gómez-Peña’s work addresses the north–south border and US–Mexican interactions. He pioneered performance art, experimental radio, video and installation art.

Gómez-Peña relocated to San Diego in the early 1980s, where he co-founded the performative collaborative Poyesis Genética in 1981 with Sara-Jo Berman. In 1984 he was a founding member of the Border Art Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo (BAW/TAF), originally based at the Centro Cultural de la Raza, Balboa Park, where he collaborated until 1990.

Gómez-Peña became known for his densely written texts, often expressed through newspaper, radio or experimental publications, including the early border journal ...

Article

Catherine M. Grant and Margaret Rose Vendryes

(b Cleveland, OH, 1959).

American printmaker, film maker, installation and conceptual artist and writer.

Green, of African descent, has worked primarily with film-based media, and has published criticism and designed installations that reveal her commitment to ongoing feminist and black empowerment movements. She earned her BA from Wesleyan University in 1981 and also spent some time at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1980, returning in the late 1980s to study in the Whitney Independent Study Program, graduating in 1990. At the age of 24 she began exhibiting her comparative compositions containing found objects, images, and texts that question recorded history.

Green’s work deals with issues of anthropology and travel. By undertaking projects via the methodology of the 19th-century explorer, she exposed the arbitrary and prejudiced nature of classification, as in Bequest (1991; see 1993 exh. cat.), an installation she made at the invitation of the Worcester Museum of Art to commemorate their 50th anniversary. Using the museum as a ready-made stage set, she installed works of art alongside 19th-century texts explaining stereotypes of whiteness and blackness. Green characteristically intervened in the history of her chosen site to produce a fiction that included her own responses as an African American woman to her findings. In ...

Article

Annie Dell’Aria

American painter, sculptor, conceptual artist, writer and curator. Hammond became active in feminist and lesbian art circles following her move to New York in 1969 after receiving her BA from the University of Minnesota in 1967. Hammond soon co-founded the feminist cooperative gallery AIR in ...

Article

Walter Smith

(b New York, July 19, 1929; d New York, July 3, 2000).

American architect, conceptual artist, teacher and writer. He studied at the Cooper Union, New York (1947–50), University of Cincinnati, OH (1950–52), Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (1952–3), and the University of Rome (Fulbright scholar, 1954). Hejduk began teaching architecture in 1954, and in 1964 he joined Cooper Union, becoming Dean of the School of Architecture there in 1975. He also worked in various architectural offices in New York, including that of I. M. Pei (1956–8), and in 1965 he established his own office in New York. From 1954 to 1963 he worked in a purposefully dry, reductive style strongly influenced by Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and De Stijl. This is illustrated in the Nine Square Problem (c. 1954), a linear grid concerned with such concepts as frame, post, centre, periphery, extension and compression, which was developed as a pedagogical tool for first-year students. It became the basis for his Texas Houses project (...

Article

Klaus Ottmann

(b New York, Sept 24, 1955).

American sculptor, installation artist, draughtsman, photographer, and writer. Horn studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and at the Yale University School of Art. From 1975 she began to travel frequently to Iceland, whose primordial, unstable landscape influenced her artistic practice.

Always intent to maintain the integrity of her chosen materials, be it solid glass, literature, or the volcanic topography of Iceland, Horn created complex relationships between the viewer and her work. She was less interested in the meaning of the work (the ‘why’ and ‘what’) and more in the interaction of action and being the ‘how’, ultimately creating art that unites both.

Her series of aluminium sculptures, which feature fragments from the writings of Franz Kafka and Emily Dickinson, such as Kafka’s Palindrome (1991–4) or Keys and Cues (1994), are reminiscent of the Minimalist sculptures of Donald Judd and Michael Fried’s famous definition of Minimalist art as ‘literal art’. However, Horn’s ‘literal’ transfer of words onto matter changes the meaning of both the original words and the materials used: taken out of context, the meaning of the original words becomes amalgamated with the meaning embedded in the material. By adding literacy to matter, the sculpture becomes nonliteral, but not devoid of content....

Article

Native American (Haudenosaunee/Cattaraugaus, Huron clan), 20th century, male.

Born in 1945, in New York.

Painter, mixed-media artist (acrylics, video/film), paper-maker, curator.

Peter Jemison received his BA in art education from Buffalo State College. His artwork combines contemporary art practices with traditional Native American themes, such as in the Haudenosaunee notion of ...

Article

Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander

(Jennifer )

(b Barre, VT, Feb 15, 1974).

Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander

American film maker, artist, and writer.

She attended the University of California, Santa Cruz, but left after her second year and never returned to school. She has had no formal artistic training. After leaving Santa Cruz, she moved to Portland, OR, where she began exploring performance art and film-making. One of her earliest projects, Joanie4Jackie (1995), demonstrates July’s early and continued interest in collaborative artistic practice. In this work July circulated pamphlets where she invited women to send her short films on VHS tapes, and in return, she would send them films made by other women. The project acted as an arena for free film distribution to create a conversation among and women film makers. Though she has worked in a wide array of media, much of her work explores similar subjects such as human relationships, intimacy, and mortality. Her online project, Learning to Love You More...

Article

Joan Marter

(b Albert Lea, MN, June 7, 1941).

American conceptual artist and writer. Kelly received instruction in fine art and music at the College of St Teresa, Winona, MN, and fine art and aesthetics at the Pius XII Institute, Florence (MA 1965). She taught art briefly in Beirut in the 1960s. In 1968 she moved to London, where she received a postgraduate certificate in painting at St Martin’s School of Art. From 1968 Kelly worked in London as artist, teacher, editor, and writer. She practised a long-term critique of conceptualism, informed by feminist theory. Her work was related to her active involvement in the women’s movement throughout the 1970s. Kelly is best known for projects addressing questions of sexuality, identity, and memory. Her installations feature large-scale narratives including relevant documentation. Kelly’s work is renowned for its enquiry into cultural identity, particularly the construction of femininity and power in Western capitalist society, and it draws on and criticizes the work of Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, and other cultural theorists....

Article

Nancy Ring

(b Toledo, OH, Jan 31, 1945).

American conceptual artist and writer. He was deeply interested in philosophy and the social sciences and conducted a sustained, methodical inquiry into the rules that govern art. He trained at the Toledo Museum School of Design (1955–62), also taking private lessons, and completed his studies as a painter at the Cleveland Art Institute (1963–4). In 1965 he began to produce works with a basis in language, some fashioned from neon and glass, others linking objects, images, and texts into simple and self-referential series. The work One and Three Chairs (1965; Cologne, Paul Maenz Gal.), for example, consists of a full-scale photograph of a chair, an actual chair and a dictionary definition of the word ‘chair’ lined in a row, together forming a closed system that resists any kind of transcendent meaning.

Kosuth dispensed with objects entirely in his Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) series (...

Article

(b Newark, NJ, Jan 26, 1945).

American conceptual artist, designer, and writer. She enrolled at Parsons School of Design, New York, where her teachers included the photographer Diane Arbus and Marvin Israel (1924–84), a successful graphic designer and art director of Harper’s Bazaar, who was particularly encouraging. When Kruger’s interest in art school waned in the mid-1960s, Israel encouraged her to prepare a professional portfolio. Kruger moved to New York and entered the design department of Mademoiselle magazine, becoming chief designer a year later. Also at that time she designed book covers for political texts. In the late 1960s and early 1970s she became interested in poetry and began writing and attending readings. From 1976 to 1980 she lived in Berkeley, CA, teaching and reflecting on her own art. Kruger later taught at Art Institute of Chicago and joined the visual arts faculty of the University of California San Diego in 2002, and later the University of California Los Angeles, dividing her time between Los Angeles and New York....

Article

Catherine M. Grant

(b Liberty, NY, Sept 29, 1961).

American photographer, installation artist, film maker and writer. She dropped out of school at the age of 15, and began to take photographs after borrowing her mother’s camera a year later. Her early photographs were mainly aerial and landscape shots taken while travelling around America working at a variety of odd jobs. In the late 1980s and early 1990s Leonard took a number of photographs concerned with the control and representation of women, including a series of images of catwalk models taken from an low angle so that the model’s underwear is revealed, literally ‘undressing’ them; see for example, Legs, Geoffrey Beene Fashion Show (1990; see 1994 exh. cat.). She also continued to take pictures of the urban environment, sometimes focusing on graffiti, as in Blow Me (1994; see 1997 Basle exh. cat., p. 3). In 1993 Leonard collaborated with the Liberian-born American film maker Cheryl Dunye (...