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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

American, 20th century, male.

Born 7 May 1943, in Wichita (Kansas).

Sculptor, environmental artist, performance artist, video artist.

Terry Allen studied at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, receiving a BFA in 1966. His work is inspired by his travels in Mexico, Thailand, China and Colorado. He has taught at California State University Fresno (...

Article

Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy

American installation artists, active also in Puerto Rico. Jennifer Allora (b Philadelphia, Mar 20, 1974) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Richmond, Virginia (1996), and Guillermo Calzadilla (b Havana, Cuba, Jan 10, 1971) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Escuela de Artes Plastica in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1996). Allora and Calzadilla met in Italy in 1995 during a study abroad program in Florence. They then lived together in San Juan for a year before moving to New York City where they started working collaboratively while each participated in different residency and study programs. In 1998–1999, Allora participated in the year-long Whitney Independent Study Program, while Calzadilla participated in the P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center National Studio Program.

Allora & Calzadilla’s first important international exhibition was the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo in 1998 curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, which investigated the idea of cultural cannibalism known in Brazilian literature as ...

Article

Deborah Cullen

(Henry) [Spinky]

(b Charlotte, NC, Nov 29, 1907; d April 27, 1977).

African American painter, sculptor, graphic artist, muralist and educator. In 1913, Charles Alston’s family relocated from North Carolina to New York where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School. In 1929, he attended Columbia College and then Teachers College at Columbia University, where he obtained his MFA in 1931. Alston’s art career began while he was a student, creating illustrations for Opportunity magazine and album covers for jazz musician Duke Ellington.

Alston was a groundbreaking educator and mentor. He directed the Harlem Arts Workshop and then initiated the influential space known simply as “306,” which ran from 1934 to 1938. He taught at the Works Progress Administration’s Harlem Community Art Center and was supervisor of the Harlem Hospital Center murals, leading 35 artists as the first African American project supervisor of the Federal Art Project. His two murals reveal the influence of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (1886–1957). His artwork ranged from the comic to the abstract, while often including references to African art. During World War II, he worked at the Office of War Information and Public Information, creating cartoons and posters to mobilize the black community in the war effort....

Article

Margo Machida

(b New York, Aug 16, 1949).

American printmaker and installation artist. Born and raised in New York City, Arai, a third-generation Japanese American printmaker, mixed-media artist, public artist and cultural activist, studied art at the Philadelphia College of Art and The Printmaking Workshop in New York. Since the 1970s, her diverse projects have ranged from individual works to large-scale public commissions (see Public art in the 21st century). She has designed permanent public works, including an interior mural commemorating the African burial ground in lower Manhattan and an outdoor mural for Philadelphia’s Chinatown. Other works include Wall of Respect for Women (1974), a mural on New York’s Lower East Side, which was a collaboration between Arai and women from the local community. Her art has been exhibited in such venues as the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, International Center for Photography, P.S.1 Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, all New York and the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Joan Mitchell Foundation....

Article

Arman  

Alfred Pacquement

[Fernandez, Armand]

(b Nice, Nov 17, 1928; d New York, Oct 22, 2005).

American sculptor and collector of French birth. Arman lived in Nice until 1949, studying there at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs from 1946 and in 1947 striking up a friendship with the artist Yves Klein, with whom he was later closely associated in the Nouveau Réalisme movement. In 1949 he moved to Paris, where he studied at the Ecole du Louvre and where in an exhibition in 1954 he discovered the work of Kurt Schwitters, which led him to reject the lyrical abstraction of the period. In 1955 Arman began producing Stamps, using ink-pads in a determined critique of Art informel and Abstract Expressionism to suggest a depersonalized and mechanical version of all-over paintings. In his next series, the Gait of Objects, which he initiated in 1958, he took further his rejection of the subjectivity of the personal touch by throwing inked objects against the canvas.

Arman’s willingness to embrace chance was indicated by his decision in ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 20 November 1946, in Harrisburg (Pennsylvania).

Sculptor, draughtswoman, multimedia artist.

Land Art.

Alice Aycock studied at Rutgers University (Douglass College), New Brunswick, NJ, receiving a BA in 1968, when she moved to New York. She obtained an MA from Hunter College in ...

Article

revised by Margaret Barlow

(b Harrisburg, PA, Nov 20, 1946).

American sculptor, draughtswoman, and installation and environmental artist. She studied liberal arts at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (1964–8), and obtained an MA in studio art at Hunter College, City University of New York (1968–71), where she worked under Robert Morris and became familiar with systems theory. From the 1960s Aycock developed phenomenologically site-orientated works to include metaphor and simile, referring to machinery and construction sites, archaeological sites, models, children’s play areas and funfairs, and other public or social settings. For example in A Simple Network of Underground Wells and Tunnels (1975) six concrete wells (1.62 sq. m) with connecting tunnels were sunk into an area of ground c. 6.1×12.2 m at Merriewold West, Far Hills, NJ (destr.). The curious sense of authority within her sophisticated, well-made structures is simultaneously articulated and undermined by a nonsensical, non-functional, and fantastical element. Her works are often a synthesis of diverse elements. The imagery of the ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(Francisca )

(b East Los Angeles, CA, Sept 20, 1946).

American muralist, activist and teacher. Born to Mexican–American parents, Baca is recognized as one of the leading muralists in the USA. She was involved from a young age in activism, including the Chicano Movement, the antiwar protest and Women’s Liberation. She studied art at California State University, Northridge, where she received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Baca started teaching art in 1970 in East Los Angeles for the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and became interested in the ways murals could involve youth, allowing them to express their experiences. She founded the City of Los Angeles Mural Program in 1974, which evolved into the Social and Public Resource Center, a community arts organization, where she served as artistic director. She held five summer mural workshops from 1976 through 1983 for teenagers and community artists to help her paint a huge mural on the ethnic history of Los Angeles, called the ...

Article

Banksy  

Elizabeth K. Mix

(b Bristol, ?1974).

English graffiti and interventionist artist. Banksy is best known for stencilled graffiti that sometimes mimics government posts. His graffiti, both freehand and stencil, started appearing on trains and walls around Bristol in 1992–4. He apparently left Bristol for London late in 1999. The name ‘Banksy’ became formally associated with his work with the publication of his first book, Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall (2001).

Banksy’s text-based graffiti has included the phrase, ‘caution, concealed trap doors in operation’, on London’s Millennium Bridge; ‘designated riot area’ in Trafalgar Square, and ‘this is not a not a photo opportunity’ at various tourist sites including Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sydney Opera House. Many were fooled by his official-looking stencilled declaration that walls on Marylebone and Bayswater Roads in Westminster were ‘a designated graffiti area’. Other works contained unusual appropriations of public property—vandalized street signs, traffic cones, telephone booths, vehicles, and even farm animals. Banksy has termed his appropriation and manipulation of public advertisements ‘Brandalism’. A subtle use of found objects involves the painting of frames or dotted lines and scissors around the edges of objects, making the outlined objects appear to be either artworks or coupons ready to be clipped. In addition, Banksy has mimicked British pound notes (‘Banksy notes’ featuring Princess Diana) and oil paintings by William Bouguereau and Claude Monet, among other artists, by inserting incongruous objects (bombs, iPods, shopping trolleys) into copies of well-known paintings in a series of ‘Vandalized Oil Paintings’....

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1942, in Boston (Massachusetts).

Painter, draughtsman, environmental artist. Multimedia.

Bad Painting, New Image (related to).

Jonathan Borofsky studied at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, and at Yale School of Art. He taught at the New York School of Visual Arts from 1969 to 1977 and went on to teach at the Valencia Institute of Art, California. At the start of his artistic career, in the late 1960s, Borofsky would count obsessively, writing numbers from one upwards in his notebook and drawing in between the numbers when ideas struck him. He then produced paintings based on these drawings, which he signed with the number he had reached when the painting was finished. In the early 1970s, his work drew on his own dreams for inspiration: he would keep records of his dreams and spontaneous drawings and produce paintings based on that. Much of his work is related to these themes of time and his own experience: in ...

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

Mary M. Tinti

(b Houston, TX, 1951).

American sculptor, installation and conceptual artist. His multimedia works investigate the pathology of contemporary culture. Mel Chin was born and raised in Houston, Texas to parents of Chinese birth and received his BA in 1975 from the Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee. The works in Chin’s oeuvre are diverse in both medium and subject, but a consistent undercurrent of social, political, and environmental responsibility runs throughout. Whether a sculpture, film, video game, installation, public project or earthwork, Chin’s artworks consistently targeted a broad spectrum of pressing cultural and ecological interests and spread their message in subtle, if not viral ways.

In the 1980s, Chin produced a number of sculptures that set the stage for his ever-evocative artistic journey. The Extraction of Plenty from What Remains: 1823 (1988–9) is a frequently referenced piece from this period. It is a symbolic encapsulation of the effects of the Monroe Doctrine, referencing the complicated dealings between the US (represented by truncated replicas of White House columns) and Central America (represented by a cornucopia of mahogany branches, woven banana-tree fiber, and a surface layer of hardened blood, mud, and coffee grinds). From the 1990s, however, Chin moved away from strictly gallery-based installations and began creating works that directly engaged contemporary culture in a variety of physical and theoretical landscapes....

Article

Stephen S. Prokopoff

Artistic partnership. Christo [Christo Javacheff] (b Gabrovo, Bulgaria, 13 June 1935, d New York, 18 Nov 2009), an American artist of Bulgarian birth, studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Sofia (1953–6), after which he spent six months in Prague. There he encountered Russian Constructivism, which impressed him with its concern for monumental visionary structures. He escaped first to Vienna, studying briefly in 1957 at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, and in 1958 to Paris. Like his contemporaries, Christo rebelled against abstraction, seeing it as too theoretical and proposing in its place a manifestly physical art composed of real things. Christo began by wrapping everyday objects, including tin cans and bottles, stacks of magazines, furniture (e.g. Wrapped Chair, 1961; New York, Jeanne-Claude Christo priv. col., see 1990–91 exh. cat., p. 54), automobiles, or various objects such as Wrapped Luggage Rack (1962; New York, Jeanne-Claude Christo priv. col., see ...

Article

Margo Machida

Asian American mixed-media and installation artist and cultural activist. Ken Chu came to the United States from Hong Kong in 1971, settling in California where he received a BFA in film studies from San Francisco Art Institute (1986). Relocating to New York City after graduation, his encounters with local Asian American artists, activists and cultural organizations supported his artistic efforts, in which he often drew upon subjects that emerged organically from personal experience in the US as a gay Asian man. Adopting popular cultural idioms from film and comics, while also drawing upon symbols and motifs from Chinese and other Asian cultures, his imagery from this pivotal period featured Asian men cast as prototypically American masculine figures, such as California surfers and cowboys, who populate colorful, imaginary scenarios of cross-cultural contact, mixing and desire. In Western societies, where the dominant norms are non-Asian and few viable role models for Asian men exist, Chu’s art strongly asserted their collective presence and place. His socially inspired work has since also engaged matters of anti-Asian violence, internalized racism, stereotyping, homophobia and the impact of AIDS on Asian diasporic communities....

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1920, in Washington; died 1985.

Painter, environmental artist.

Minimal Art.

Gene Davis studied at the University of Maryland from 1939 to 1942 and at the Wilson Teachers' College in Washington in 1943. He initially worked as a political journalist before teaching himself to paint. He took part in many group exhibitions, notably: in ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1 October 1935, in Albany (California); died 25 July 2013, in Los Angeles.

Sculptor, draughtsman.

Minimal Art, Land Art.

Walter De Maria studied the history of art at the University of Berkeley, and earned his MFA in 1959. His work cannot be neatly categorized within a single movement, but rather reaches across boundaries and includes Conceptual, Land, Installation, and Minimal Art. He initially participated in the Minimalist movement, of which he was one of the leaders with Robert Morris, Carl Andre, and Donald Judd, reducing his sculptures to simple geometric shapes and strategically engaging the use of gallery space in the interpretation of his works. In ...

Article

Derrick R. Cartwright

(b Albany, CA, Oct 1, 1935; d Los Angeles, CA, July 25, 2013).

American sculptor. He studied history at the University of California, Berkeley (1953–7), and then art, under David Park (MA, 1959). In 1960 he moved to New York where he associated with other Californians including the sculptor and painter Robert Morris, the dancer Yvonne Rainer (b 1934) and the composer La Monte Young (b 1935). His sculpture of the early 1960s reveals a debt to Dada and other 20th-century avant-garde movements then under revision by young artists. His simple, often cryptically inscribed works owe much of their oblique spirit and deadpan execution to Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades, yet they explore the appeal of pure, usually serialized forms, which become characteristic of Minimalism.

De Maria’s first exhibitions consisted of machine-turned objects in highly finished wood, metals and other industrial materials. At the same time he began to experiment with alternative exhibition spaces such as the desert of the south-western USA. In early projects like ...

Article

American, 20th century, female.

Born 1938, in Budapest, Hungary.

Draughtswoman (ink).

Conceptual Art, Environmental Art.

Agnes Denes started out as a painter, but abandoned this in 1968 in favour of what she described as a 'new visual, personal language'. She is one of the originators of Conceptual art, and a pioneer of environmental art, dealing with ecological, cultural and social issues in her work. In her images, geometric structures rigorously elaborated in ink on graph paper, she conceives reality as a structure incapable of being seized in its totality. She delivers a theoretical, mathematical and scientific reflection, a concept 'that dictates the method of representation' inspired by universal history. She has written several theoretical essays....

Article

(b Budapest, 1931).

American conceptual and environmental artist of Hungarian birth. She was educated in Sweden and the USA. In much of her work she presented analytical propositions in visual form, seeking to re-evaluate existing knowledge, and her work came to be seen as a process of investigation, incorporating both philosophy and science but also using elements of myth. In her book Map Projections she relinquished accepted forms of knowledge of the planet earth and sought new possibilities, presenting them in the form of drawings. Thus, for example, ‘longitude and latitude lines were unravelled, points of intersection cut, continents allowed to drift, gravity tampered with [and] earth mass altered.’ The element of game-playing in this was important, as was the belief in the possibility of changing our understanding of the world. Denes felt it was important to ‘accept the possibility that there may be no language to describe ultimate reality, beyond the language of visions’ (e.g. ...