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Article

Latvian, 20th century, male.

Born 25 July 1922, in Riga, Latvia; died 1 March 1983, in Riga, Latvian SSR (now Latvia).

Painter and theorist. Historical, still-life, cartographic, environmental, and abstract subjects.

Ojārs Ābols distinguished himself in later years by transcending political orthodoxy and stylistic parochialism in his own work and by enabling colleagues and younger artists to do likewise. His studies began under modernist Romans Suta at Riga’s Second Gymnasium ...

Article

International group of painters and sculptors, founded in Paris in February 1931 and active until 1936. It succeeded another short-lived group, Cercle et Carré, which had been formed in 1929 with similar intentions of promoting and exhibiting abstract art. Its full official title was Abstraction-Création: Art non-figuratif. The founding committee included Auguste Herbin (president), Georges Vantongerloo (vice-president), Hans Arp, Albert Gleizes, Jean Hélion, Georges Valmier and František Kupka.

Membership of Abstraction-Création was in principle open to all abstract artists, but the dominant tendency within the group was towards the geometric formality championed by Theo van Doesburg and by other artists associated with De Stijl. Works such as Jean Hélion’s Ile-de-France (1935; London, Tate), which came to typify the group’s stance, owed more to the post-war ‘rappel à l’ordre’ interpreted by the Purists in terms of a ‘classic’ and ‘architectonic’ ordering of art, design and architecture, than to the biomorphic abstraction derived from Surrealism. During its brief existence the group published annual ...

Article

Ađalsteinn Ingólfsson

(b Reykjavík, Feb 4, 1922).

Icelandic painter, writer and designer. He studied engineering in 1941–2 at the University of Iceland, Reykjavík, and architecture privately. He then studied at the Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts (Myndlista-og handíÐaskóli Íslands), Reykjavík (until 1943), the Kongelige Kunstakademi in Copenhagen (1945–6), the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris (1947–8) and with Marcel Gromaire in Paris (1949–50). He promoted the movement towards abstract art in Iceland in 1948–52, particularly in its theoretical aspects.

Ágústsson came to geometric abstraction through an interest in Renaissance compositional theory and the theories of the Bauhaus. His meeting with Victor Vasarely in Paris in 1953 encouraged him to continue with a highly reductive series of paintings on which he had embarked shortly before. Later that year Ágústsson was one of the organizers of the Autumn Exhibition (Haustsýningin), the first group show of geometric abstraction in Iceland. At its opening he gave a lecture that became a kind of manifesto for the movement. He followed it up with a series of articles in the cultural review ...

Article

French, 20th century, male.

Born 12 February 1914, in Baugé (Maine-et-Loire).

Painter.

Marcel Albert emerged as an Informal Abstract painter in 1951, showing his work in solo exhibitions, and group exhibitions with other Informal Abstract artists.

Article

German, 20th century, male.

Active in the USA (naturalised).

Born 1910, in Dresden.

Painter.

American Abstract Artists (AAA).

Alcopley studied a very wide variety of subjects, attending faculties of medicine, biology, art, history of literature and philosophy. In 1935, he left Germany, then under the Third Reich, and lived in Switzerland until ...

Article

Greta Stroeh

[Jean] (Peter Wilhelm)

(b Strassburg, Germany [now Strasbourg, France], Sept 16, 1886; d Basle, Switzerland, June 7, 1966).

French sculptor, painter, collagist, printmaker, and poet of German birth. The son of a German father and French Alsatian mother, he developed a cosmopolitan outlook from an early age and as a mature artist maintained close contact with the avant-garde throughout Europe. He was a pioneer of abstract art and one of the founders of Dada in Zurich, but he also participated actively in both Surrealism and Constructivism. While he prefigured junk art and the Fluxus movement in his incorporation of waste material, it was through his investigation of biomorphism and of chance and accident that he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Following a brief period at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Strasbourg (1900–01), Arp received instruction from 1901 from a friend and neighbour, the painter and printmaker Georges Ritleng (1875–1972). He then attended the Kunstschule in Weimar (1904–7) and the Académie Julian in Paris (...

Article

Belgian art group designed to propagate abstract art. It was formed in April 1952 as a successor to Jeune Peinture Belge by the artists Jean Milo (b 1906), Jo Delahaut (b 1911), Pol Bury, Georges Carrey (1902–53), Léopold Plomteux (b 1920), George Collignon (b 1923) and Jan Saverys (b 1924), who were joined later that year by Jan Burssens (b 1925) and Hauror. The group first exhibited in 1952 at the Cercle Artistique in Ghent, the Galerie Le Parc in Charleroi and the Galerie Arnaud in Paris and also travelled to Britain. The following year it exhibited at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, the Association pour le Progrès Intellectuel et Artistique de la Wallonie in Liège and at the Salle Comité voor Artistieke Werking in Antwerp. The members of the group had no unifying style or aesthetic apart from being non-figurative. The abstract styles within the group ranged from thickly impastoed informal works such as ...

Article

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

Sanja Cvetnić

(Mića) [Mangelos]

(b Šid, Serbia, March 14, 1921; d Zagreb, Croatia, Dec 18, 1987).

Croatian art historian, critic, curator, and conceptual artist. His father was the landowner Ilija Bašičević Bosilj, who became a ‘naïve’ painter in the 1950s. Dimitrije studied art history in Vienna, than Zagreb. He graduated from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb with the PhD in Art History in 1956. In the fierce polemics about abstract art in the 1950s, he sided with those promoting abstraction. He not only wrote about it, but also participated in organizing Salon 54, the first group exhibition of abstract paintings in Croatia (and the former Yugoslavia), which was held in Rijeka in 1954. From 1960 until 1964 he was a curator at the Gallery of Primitive Art (now Croatian Museum of Naïve Art). In 1965 he became a curator of the Benko Horvat Collection within the Galleries of the City of Zagreb (now Museum of Contemporary Art) and, when its Centre for Film, Photography and Television opened in ...

Article

(René)

(b Paris, Dec 21, 1904; d Clanmart, March 4, 2001).

French painter and writer. He studied under the French sculptor Paul Maximilien Landowski (b 1875) at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. At the same time he studied for a degree in literature at the Sorbonne. In 1924 he made two trips to Italy and there began to paint. He first exhibited in 1930 at a group show at the Galerie Jeanne Castel in Paris where the other artists included Jean Fautrier, Jean Pougny and Marcel Gromaire. Two years later he had his first one-man show at the Galerie Van Leer in Paris where he met Bonnard, who advised and encouraged him. Also in 1932 he began his work on the review Esprit and he later contributed art criticism to Temps Présent and Poésie 43.

In 1934 Bazaine had his first watercolour exhibition at the Galerie Van Leer in Paris. In 1936 he made his first visit to Saint-Guénolé in Brittany, a place to which he returned each year. These visits resulted in such works as ...

Article

Greek, 20th century, male.

Born 1939, in Kalamoto.

Engraver.

Georges Behrakis studied at the schools of fine arts in Athens and then Paris. He produces works of abstract art involving the layering of different materials. He has participated in numerous exhibitions in Greece, Paris, Rome, São Paulo and Geneva and featured in the Paris Biennale in ...

Article

British, 20th century, male.

Born 21 November 1910, in the Transvaal, South Africa; died 9 August 1943, in Newark-on-Trent, Great Britain, on a training flight.

Painter.

Objective Abstraction.

Euston Road School.

Graham Bell studied at Durban Art School, and then moved to England in 1931...

Article

Latvian, 20th century, male.

Born 7 October 1930, in Riga, Latvia; died 11 February 2002, in Riga.

Painter, graphicist, draughtsman, and academician. Landscape, genre, still-life, human figure, and abstract subjects.

Boriss Bērziņš’s artistic training began in childhood when the electrician’s son was exposed to Russian Orthodox icons. He copied reproductions of famous paintings and took lessons from watercolourist Jānis Skučs. He studied at Riga’s Janis Rozentāls Art High School ...

Article

Beti  

Spanish, 20th century, male.

Born 1926, in San Sebastian.

Painter.

Beti took fine art courses in Valencia and Madrid. Between 1942 and 1948 he had an Expressionist period but by 1959 he had turned to Abstract Art. From there he developed into Art Informel, preoccupied with experimenting with new materials. In ...

Article

Hans Frei

(b Winterthur, Dec 22, 1908; d Zurich, Dec 9, 1994).

Swiss architect, sculptor, painter, industrial designer, graphic designer and writer. He attended silversmithing classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich from 1924 to 1927. Then, inspired by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (1925), Paris, by the works of Le Corbusier and by a competition entry (1927) for the Palace of the League of Nations, Geneva, by Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer (1894–1952), he decided to become an architect and enrolled in the Bauhaus, Dessau, in 1927. He studied there for two years as a pupil of Josef Albers, László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee and Vasily Kandinsky, mainly in the field of ‘free art’. In 1929 he returned to Zurich. After working on graphic designs for the few modern buildings being constructed, he built his first work, his own house and studio (1932–3) in Zurich-Höngg; although this adheres to the principles of the new architecture, it retains echoes of the traditional, for example in the gently sloping saddle roof....

Article

Michael Flintholm

(Kristian Torbensen)

(b Odder, nr Århus, March 6, 1910; d Indland, Denmark, May 1, 2004).

Danish sculptor, painter and writer. He trained at the Kunsthåndværkerskole in Copenhagen with Bizzie Høyer from 1930 to 1932 and at the Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi (1933). Bille made his début as a sculptor at the Kunstnernes Efterårsundstilling (Artists’ Autumn Exhibition) in Copenhagen in 1931. He became interested in abstract art very early in his career; in 1933, with the artist Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen, he was one of the first artists in Denmark to exhibit abstract sculptures and paintings. In 1934 Bille was a founder-member with Richard Mortensen and Bjerke-Petersen of the artists’ group Linien (The Line), whose journal of the same name he also co-edited. During Bille’s many trips abroad in the 1930s he was particularly stimulated by the work of Alberto Giacometti, Hans Arp and Max Ernst. His originality was nevertheless clearly apparent in the early sculptures, which often used animals as subjects, for example Marten (1931...

Article

Rigmor Lovring

(b Copenhagen, Dec 24, 1909; d Halmstad, Sept 13, 1957).

Danish painter and writer. He was the son of the art historian and museum director Carl V. Petersen (1868–1938), who introduced him to the visual arts at an early age. His extensive knowledge of art history had a considerable influence on the development of his paintings and artistic theories. He had private painting lessons before beginning studies at the Kunstakademi in Oslo in 1929. In 1930–31 he studied with Paul Klee, Vasily Kandinsky and Oskar Schlemmer at the Bauhaus in Dessau, after which he returned to Denmark inspired by new conceptions of a completely abstract art. He became a central figure in Danish artistic life in the 1930s. He was a founder-member of the Danish artists’ group Linien (The Line) in 1933, at that time an association of abstract and Surrealist artists, and he edited the group’s journal of the same name.

Bjerke-Petersen was an active artistic experimenter. He favoured Constructivist abstraction at the beginning of the 1930s. His ideas, based on first-hand knowledge of the newest international developments in the art of the time, as for example in the Bauhaus-influenced ...

Article

Latvian, 20th–21st century, male.

Born 6 September 1943, in Riga, Reichskommissariat Ostland (now Latvia).

Painter, scenographer, poster designer, graphicist, and book illustrator. Literary, allegorical and historical subjects; abstractions and symbolic representations; installations, performance, and soundworks.

Ilmārs Blumbergs spent his childhood in Siberian exile, then studied in the Department of Stage Design at Riga’s Secondary School of Applied Arts ...

Article

Joyce Zemans

(Richard)

(b Croydon, London, March 31, 1888; d Toronto, March 21, 1955).

Canadian painter, critic and writer of English birth. He emigrated in 1905 to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. In 1921 he moved to Toronto to work as an editor and publisher. He is best known as a pioneer of abstract painting in Canada. His show (1927) at Toronto’s Arts & Letters Club was the first solo exhibition of abstract art by a Canadian artist. His early work is characterized by the bold non-objective imagery seen in the complex Sounds Assembling (1928; Winnipeg, A.G.). After 1930 he reassessed his artistic direction: he turned first to figurative imagery (e.g. Torso, 1937; Ottawa, N.G.) and then looking to Cubism he re-examined the nature of abstraction in his painting, without returning to the non-objectivity of his earlier work. Between 1926 and 1930 Brooker wrote ‘The Seven Arts’, a syndicated column of art criticism for the Southam Press. In addition, he edited The Yearbook of the Arts in Canada...

Article

María Teresa Dabrio González

(b Toledo, May 17, 1935).

Spanish painter. In the late 1940s he studied privately under various painters, including Daniel Vázquez Díaz, also drawing in the afternoons at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid. He painted briefly in the style of Vázquez Díaz but in the early 1950s became interested in the work of major modernists such as Picasso, Braque and Miró. After the failure of his first commercial show, held in 1954 at the Galería Altamira in Madrid, he established contact with other painters, many of them trained by Vázquez Díaz, who joined together in 1957 as El Paso, through which Art informel became established as an influential current in Spanish art. Most of his paintings at this time, like those of his colleagues, were abstract, such as Painting No. 41 (2×1.5 m, 1959; Madrid, Mus. A. Contemp.), typical in its sombre palette and violent, impulsive brushwork.

In the 1960s Canogar began to reintroduce imagery, sometimes using retouched press photographs as a starting-point for socially concerned images such as ...