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Article

Absalon  

John-Paul Stonard

[Eshel, Meir]

(b Tel Aviv, Dec 26, 1964; d Paris, Oct 10, 1993).

Israeli sculptor. He adopted the name Absalon on his arrival in Paris in the late 1980s. During his short career he achieved widespread recognition for the 1:1 scale architectural models that he constructed of idealized living units. These wooden models, painted white, demonstrate an obsession with order, arrangement and containment, and have associations both of protective shelters and monastic cells. They were designed to be placed in several cities and to function as living-pods for the artist as he travelled. Exhibiting a series of six ‘cellules’ in Paris in 1993, he described how they were fitted both to his body and to his mental space, but were also able to condition the movements of his body in line with their idealized architecture. Although he denied their apparent utopianism, the sculptures can be viewed as the reduction of the utopian aims of early modern architecture (as seen in the work of the Constructivists, de Stijl and Le Corbusier) to the level of individual subjectivity. This suggests both the failure of architectural social engineering and its inevitable basis in subjective, anti-social vision. Absalon’s habitational units also have an element of protest. In an interview for the ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 15 November 1948, in Des Moines (Iowa).

Environmental artist, video artist, installation artist.

Dennis Adams lives and works in New York and Berlin. Adams' work focuses on the relationship between architecture and images taken from political literature. He creates architectural environments that act as frameworks for text, photographs and other images. These environments, which are either temporary or permanent, are public places. The series of ...

Article

Kristina Borrman

(b Dar es Salaam, Sept 22, 1966).

British architect of Tanzanian birth and Ghanaian descent. David Adjaye’s projects span a wide range of architectural categories including residential buildings, retail spaces, civic buildings, and art installations. After establishing his own practice in 2000, Adjaye’s work inspired critics and historians to consider his buildings in terms of their carefully considered spatial relationships to their sites, the intense multi-sensory experiences they offer users, and their interrogation of architecture’s ability to communicate ideas concerning place, identity, and symbolic value.

David Adjaye was born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1966. As the son of a Ghanaian diplomat, Adjaye was already well travelled by the age of 13, having resided in the Middle East and Africa before moving to London. In 1986 Adjaye received his diploma in art and design from Middlesex College. Two years later he secured a job with the offices of Chassay Architects in London while concurrently studying for his architecture BA at Southbank University. The programme at Southbank structured Adjaye’s studies to prepare him for the three-part Royal Institute of British Architects Examinations, the successful completion of which officially deemed Adjaye a fully qualified architect in ...

Article

French, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 20 January 1951, in Paris.

Painter, sculptor, draughtsman, illustrator.

Agid began his studies in 1970-1971 by taking one course of teaching and research on the environment. He studied architecture between 1971 and 1976, before registering in fine arts at the Université de Paris VIII....

Article

Walter Smith

(b Buenos Aires, 1945).

American architect and theorist of Argentine birth. She received her Diploma of Architecture at the University of Buenos Aires in 1967 and studied further in Paris at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and the Centre du Recherche d’Urbanisme (1967–9). She moved to New York in 1971. From 1976 Agrest taught at Cooper Union, New York, and at Columbia, Princeton and Yale universities. In 1980 she went into partnership with her husband, Mario Gandelsonas (b 1938), in the firm A & G Development Consultants Inc., in New York. She also formed her own firm, Diana Agrest, Architect, in New York. Agrest was deeply involved in theoretical research, and was a Fellow at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, New York, from 1972 to 1984. She was strongly influenced by semiotics and developed the idea that architecture can refer beyond itself, discussed particularly in her essay on architecture and film (...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in China and the United States.

Born 18 May 1957, in Beijing, China.

Artist, architect, designer, curator, publisher, activist.

After spending most of his childhood in the provinces of China, Ai Weiwei moved to Beijing in the mid-1970s to attend the city’s film academy. While there, he co-founded the first of the loose collectives of pro-democracy artists to emerge in the city, known as the Stars Group (1979–1983). In 1981, he travelled to the United States, first to Philadelphia before enrolling in New York City’s Parsons School of Design. During his student years, Ai worked at a printing press in the meatpacking district of New York City. In 1993, he returned to Beijing, where he co-founded the Chinese Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW), a non-profit organization and gallery. In Shanghai in 2000, Ai co-curated, with Feng Boyi, the infamous Fuck Off exhibition, which was closed by the authorities at the same time that the first Shanghai Biennial took place. He published a series of books about experimental art in Europe and North America: ...

Article

Spanish, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1950, in Antequera.

Painter. Figures, landscapes, urban landscapes, interiors.

Alfonso Albacete studied architecture and art in Valencia and Madrid until 1977. He made a trip to Greece in 1983, which had an important effect on the use of light in his work. His first solo exhibition was in ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1966, in New York.

Sculptor, painter, installation artist. Murals.

Ricci Albenda studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, including courses in architecture, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1988. His interest in architecture (as well as in graphic design and physics) figures prominently in his installation art, in which he creates environments which challenge the viewer's spatial perceptions. He uses such materials as fibreglass, wallboard, aluminium and acrylic paint. In his exhibition ...

Article

German, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Hamburg.

Born 1954.

Sculptor.

Jürgen Albrecht has had solo shows in Germany and France.

His minimalist-shape structures reveal an architectural space delineated by light and shadow. These luminous 'boxes' invite meditation.

Paris (FNAC)

Barak, Ami...

Article

Monica E. Kupfer

(b Panama City, Sept 5, 1949).

Panamian painter. A graduate of the University of Panama’s Architecture School, he became a full time painter following his first solo exhibition in 1979. From 1980 to 1983 he studied at the Art Students League in New York, his only formal training as an artist. Alfaro is best known for his beautifully rendered oil paintings but has also produced drawings, pastels and three-dimensional pieces. His first images were portraits of young women surrounded by surreal elements or in dream settings. From 1983 he painted humorous images of traditional or religious subjects such as church processions, as well as portraits of imaginary ecclesiastical figures and war heroes; capitalizing on Panama’s strong Catholic tradition. Alfaro even invented his own saints, including the Virgin of All Secrets (1986; see colour pl. I, fig.). By 1990, his compositions became increasingly baroque, crowded with human figures in often menacing natural environments that suggest abundant iconographic, literary and historical interpretations. Towards the end of the decade, Alfaro began to isolate and increasingly distort his models, achieving an expressive deformation characteristic of his disturbing view of humanity and personal vision of surrealism....

Article

Belgian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Mexico.

Born 1959, in Antwerp.

Painter, draughtsman, video artist, photographer, installation artist.

Francis Alÿs is of Belgian origin but has lived in Mexico since 1986. He trained as an architect at the Instituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice....

Article

Francis Summers

revised by Martin R. Patrick

(b Antwerp, Aug 22, 1959).

Belgian-born interdisciplinary artist, active in Mexico. He studied architecture at the Institut d’Architecture de Tournai in Belgium (1978–83) and at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice (1983–6). Alÿs moved to Mexico in 1987 and his art practice initially concentrated on Mexico City as a laboratory of urban living, often documented in the form of evocative, conceptually layered photographs, sculptures, and videos. In the slide series Ambulantes (Pushing and Pulling) (1992–2002), Alÿs photographed street vendors and workers as they passed by carting a wide variety of goods within a ten-block vicinity of his studio. For his project entitled The Liar, The Copy of the Liar (1997) Alÿs created small images of suited men inspired by the commercial sign painters of Mexico City, and subsequently commissioned from them larger versions in their own styles. In this process Alÿs deferred authorship into a semantic chain. Hovering between the banal and the surreal, these works have an uncanny theme, of individuals observed in situations that defy explanation....

Article

Spanish, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active since 1979, also active in the USA.

Born 1952, in Barcelona.

Painter (mixed media), draughtsman.

Frederic Amat studied scenography and architecture from 1969 to 1973, and he also began to paint. His first solo exhibitions took place in Barcelona in ...

Article

(b Chicago, June 5, 1947).

American performance artist, sculptor, draughtsman, and writer. She completed her BA in art history at Barnard College, New York, in 1969 and had her first one-woman show there in 1970, exhibiting sculptures and drawings among other works. She then trained as a sculptor at Columbia University, New York, receiving her MFA in 1972. Much of her work has built on her childhood instruction as a classical violinist, and she achieved popular notoriety in 1981 when her song ‘O Superman’ became a popular hit in England. Her first performance piece, Automotive, took place in 1972 at Town Green in Rochester, VT, and involved a concert of car horns. In 1974 she staged another music-based performance entitled Duets on Ice in which she appeared at four different locations on New York sidewalks wearing a pair of ice skates with their blades frozen in blocks of ice, and she proceeded to play one of several altered violins until the ice melted into water. In subsequent years, she has continued to work primarily as a performance artist, using projected photographs, films, texts, and music to create technologically sophisticated and elaborately staged events. Many of these performances have featured instruments of her own invention. The most famous of these was a violin with a recording head on its body and a strip of audio tape in the place of the hairs on its bow. This piece allowed her to play the human voice as an instrument by changing its speed and cadence with the movements of her arm. The most complex and spectacular of her performances, ...

Article

Kenneth Frampton

(b Osaka, Sept 13, 1941).

Japanese architect. Between 1962 and 1969 he travelled extensively, studying first-hand the architecture of Japan, Europe, America, and Africa. In 1969 he founded his own practice in Osaka. An inheritor of the Japanese anti-seismic reinforced-concrete tradition, Andō became one of the leading practitioners in this genre. Habitually using reinforced concrete walls, cast straight from the formwork, he created a uniquely Minimalist modern architecture. Early in his career he spoke of using ‘walls to defeat walls’, by which he meant deploying orthogonal, strictly geometrical volumes to resist the random chaos of the average Japanese megalopolis. To this end most of his early houses are highly introspective; notable examples include two houses in Sumiyoshi, Osaka: the award-winning, diminutive terraced Azuma House (1976) and the Glass Block Wall House (1979), built for the Horiuchi family. The latter is a courtyard house that gains light and views solely from its small internal atrium. The Koshino House (...

Article

French, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born c. 1950.

Painter (including gouache), draughtswoman, lithographer. Figures, interiors with figures. Wall decorations.

Dominique Andrier studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1970 to 1975. She has mostly painted since 1976. Since 1988, she has devoted herself to figurative painting, notably of women in their daily occupations, especially at their toilette....

Article

French, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1953, in Paris.

Sculptor, draughtsman.

Symbolism.

Jean Anguera is the grandson of the sculptor Pablo Gargallo. He graduated in architecture in 1978 (UP2) in Paris. He also attended lectures by César Baldaccini at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris (...

Article

Iizawa Kohtaro

(b Tokyo, May 25, 1940).

Japanese photographer. He graduated from the engineering department of Chiba University in 1963 and in the same year received the Taiyō prize for Satchin (Tokyo, 1964), a photographic series whose title was the pet name of a little girl. In 1971 he published the privately printed photographic collection Senchimentaru na tabi (‘Sentimental journey’; Tokyo, 1971) in which his own private life, in particular his wedding and honeymoon, was displayed in diary form. At first glance they seem to be naive records but in fact are staged. He also gave a performance in 1972 called the Super-Photo concert in which these photographs were reproduced on a photocopier, bound and sent, as a collection, by post. He later became very popular through photographs that skilfully anticipated public demand, accompanied by essays written in a risqué style. A prolific worker, he published many collections of essays and photographs, including Otoko to onna no aida ni wa shashinki ga aru...

Article

Felipe Hernandez

(b Santiago, 1967).

Chilean architect. Aravena received his architecture degree from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in 1992 and in 1994 established Aravena Arquitectos, an independent architecture studio where he took private commissions while teaching at his own school in Santiago and at Harvard University. In 2001 Aravena launched ELEMENTAL, described as a “do tank” focusing on projects of public interest and social impact. Their notions of incrementalism and participation introduce an important variable to the design of buildings: a dynamic hierarchical redistribution between the designer and people, both of whom are conceived as producers of their own habitable space. While Aravena continued to occupy a central position on the design (and construction) of buildings, people were not passive receivers but active producers of the houses where they live. Aravena’s most valuable contribution to low-income housing architecture thus has been the gap he left empty for people to complete.

Working within a governmental framework created in ...

Article

Swiss-French, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1963.

Painter. Figure compositions, architectural views.

Jean Arcelin settled in Paris. He studied at the school of fine arts there, as well as at the institute of fine arts and archaeology at the Sorbonne. He showed canvases in the exhibition mounted at the Hôpital Suisse in Paris in ...