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Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 24 January 1940, in New York.

Painter, sculptor, performance artist, video artist. Multimedia.

Body Art, Conceptual Art.

Vito Acconci was born in the Bronx, New York and lives and works in Brooklyn. He studied at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts and at the University of Iowa. He has taught in various art schools and universities and in particular at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Yale University and the Parsons School of Design in New York....

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1932, in Detroit; died May 1997, in Cairo.

Installation artist, performance artist, sculptor, draughtsman.

Conceptual Art.

Using a variety of different forms of expression, including installations, writing, performance, photographs and sculpture, James Lee Byars has created a highly personal collection of work. In the 1950s he focused on comparing oriental civilisation and western mystical thought, notably with folding sculptures which he unfolded in public. He went on to subvert objects by creating them in precious or unusual materials such as gold leaf or marble. He made several visits to Japan from ...

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

James Smalls

(b Somerville, NJ, 1955).

African American sculptor, printmaker, and conceptual artist. He grew up in New Jersey and attended the Boston University School of Fine Arts, the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League of New York City. Cole is best known for assembling and transforming ordinary domestic objects, such as irons, ironing boards, high-heeled shoes, lawn jockeys, hair dryers, bicycle parts and other discarded appliances and hardware into imaginative and powerful configurations and installations embedded with references to the African American experience and inspired by West African religion, mythology and culture. Visual puns and verbal play characterized his works, thereby creating layered meanings. The objects he chose were often discarded mass-produced American products that had themselves acquired an alternate history through their previous handling and use.

In 1989, he became attracted to the motif of the steam iron both for its form and for its perceived embodiment of the experience and history of the unknown persons who had previously used it. He referred to the earliest versions of these irons as ‘Household Gods’ and ‘Domestic Demons’. With them, he engaged with ideas utilizing not only the found object but also the repetitive scorch mark of the iron arranged in either purely decorative patterns or in such ways as to suggest a face or African mask (...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1943, in Fort Worth (Texas).

Painter (mixed media), sculptor of assemblages.

Conceptual Art.

Vernon Fisher studied at Hardin-Simmons University, where he received a BA in 1967, and at the University of Illinois, obtaining an MFA in 1969. He has taught as associate professor of art at Austin College, Sherman (...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1942, in Urbana (Illinois).

Installation artist, performance artist, sculptor, photographer. Multimedia.

Conceptual Art, Body Art.

Dan Graham lives and works in New York, where he has achieved renown as a gallery owner (he opened the John Daniels Gallery in the 1960s), art theorist (championing Minimal Art) and artist. The closure of his gallery for financial reasons caused Dan Graham to question the economic and social purpose of 'gallery art'. Influenced by Pop Art, which introduced an element of social realism to his work, Graham gradually rejected the concept of artistic autonomy promoted by the American Minimalists. Drawing on his experience of the commercial and economic realities of the art world, he realised that the value of a work of art is above all determined by the extent to which it is reproduced. He began to publicise his own work by reproducing it on inserts in, for example, the art and rock press and women's magazines, rather than by holding exhibitions in commercial galleries. His exploration of art, the means of reproduction and 'mediatisation' continued with the distribution of his own series of photographs of tract-houses (pre-fabricated, mass-produced American suburban homes): ...

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

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

Margaret Barlow

(b Gallipolis, OH, July 29, 1950).

American installation and conceptual artist. Her studies included general art courses at Duke University, Durham, NC (1968–70), and then painting, printmaking, and drawing at the University of Chicago before completing her BFA at Ohio University, Athens (1972). In 1974 she took summer courses at the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, entering its MFA programme in 1975 and beginning her first work with language, installation, and public art. Holzer moved to New York in 1977. Her first public works, Truisms (1977–9), appeared in the form of anonymous broadsheets pasted on buildings, walls, and fences in and around Manhattan. Commercially printed in cool, bold italics, numerous one-line statements such as ‘Abuse of power comes as no surprise’ and ‘There is a fine line between information and propaganda’, were meant to be provocative and elicit public debate. Thereafter Holzer used language and the mechanics of late 20th-century communications as an assault on established notions of where art should be shown, with what intention and for whom (e.g. ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1955, in New York.

Sculptor, painter, collage artist, installation artist, photographer, draughtswoman. Artists' books.

Conceptual Art.

Roni Horn studied at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1975 and at Yale in 1978. She lives and works in New York, where she teaches at the School of Arts, Columbia University....

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1924, in Ann Arbor (Michigan); died 1997.

Painter, sculptor, draughtsman, photographer, installation artist.

Conceptual Art, Appropriation Art.

Douglas Charles Huebler studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art at the University of Michigan, then at the Académie Julian, Paris. Like numerous young American artists who, despite the wave of Pop Art, remained loyal to Abstract art, his research led him, in terms of his early work, to 'minimal art'; his main preoccupation seemed to be gigantic dimensions. But in less than three years he switched to work which was more or less equivalent to Conceptual Art, and ultimately became one of its leading exponents, along with Joseph Kosuth, Sol Lewit, Robert Barry and Lawrence Weiner. His Conceptual Art enquiries focused on 'interpreting' the range of life of forms in multiple signs and places, rather than the internalising or integrity of objects typical of the 'minimalist' genre....

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 1930, in Bellingham (Washington State).

Engraver, lithographer, installation artist, sculptor.

Conceptual Art.

David Ireland studied industrial design and printmaking at the Californian College of Arts and Crafts, graduating in 1953. He worked as an architectural draughtsman, a carpenter and an African safari guide before returning to art education in the 1970s. In ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Active in Italy.

Born 9 September 1928, in Hartford (Connecticut); died 8 April 2007, in New York.

Painter (gouache), installation artist, sculptor, engraver, draughtsman, illustrator. Artists’ books.

Conceptual Art, Minimal Art.

From 1945 to 1949 Sol LeWitt was a student at the University of Syracuse, New York. In 1951–1952 he did military service in Japan and Korea. By 1953 he was studying in New York at Cartoons Illustrators, which later became the School of Visual Arts. He worked for the magazine ...

Article

Pierre-François Galpin

(b Cincinnati, OH, May 21, 1937).

Pierre-François Galpin

American sculptor, performance and installation artist, and curator.

Marioni was a key figure in the conceptual art movement in the San Francisco Bay Area throughout the 1970s. After attending Cincinnati Art Academy from 1955 to 1959, he moved to San Francisco. Marioni created a large body of work exhibited around the world and in museums’ collections, and promoted fellow artists’ works through exhibitions and magazines. From 1968 to 1971 he was the curator of the Richmond Art Center in Richmond, CA, a northern suburb of San Francisco.

Marioni’s pioneering artworks included One Second Sculpture (1969), an art action in which he released a tightly coiled metal tape-measure into the air, letting it spread to then fall on the ground; the action and its result, between performance, sculpture, and time-based art, encompassed Marioni’s notion of ‘idea-oriented art’. His signature piece The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends is the Highest Form of Art...

Article

Margaret Barlow

(b Ossining, NY, Aug 3, 1936; d Chicago, April 30, 1977).

American conceptual artist, draughtsman, and sculptor. She trained but never practised as a nurse. In 1960 she took her first art classes at the Jacksonville Museum, Jacksonville, FL. Morton then attended the University of Rhode Island, Kingston (1965–8), where she received her BFA, and the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia (MFA, 1970). Having first exhibited at the McLennon Community College, Waco, TX, in 1969, in 1970 she showed work in the Contemporary American Sculpture Annual at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. In 1972 Morton moved to New York. In her work she explored an interdisciplinary approach in installations. She acknowledged the influences of Morris family §(2), Bruce Nauman, Eva Hesse, Louise Bourgeois, Claes Oldenburg, and Richard Artschwager. Her formal concerns centred on spaces, enclosures, and boundaries, and included pictures, found objects, sculptures, and her signature trait—delineations of spaces with dotted lines, usually tape, on gallery walls and floors in loosely ordered arrangements. In many of her installations there are strong mythological and metaphorical suggestions, evocative of Native American ceremonies, mysterious rituals, and Japanese gardens. Her installation ...

Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 6 December 1941, in Fort Wayne (Indiana).

Sculptor, draughtsman, video installation artist. Multimedia.

Body Art, Process Art, Conceptual Art.

Bruce Nauman attended the universities of Wisconsin and California. He began work in Davis, California, where he was completing his university studies. In 1966 he had his first studio in San Francisco. In 1969 he moved to Pasadena and in 1979 to Pecos in the mountains of New Mexico, far removed from the artistic ‘underground’....

Article

Deborah A. Middleton

(b Fort Wayne, IN, Dec 6, 1941).

American conceptual artist. Recognized as one of the most influential, innovative, and provocative 20th century American artists, Nauman extended the media of sculpture, film, video, photography, and sound with performance and spatial explorations. Nauman attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1960 to 1964, with early studies in mathematics and physics, which broadened to the study of art under Italo Scanga (1932–2001). He received a master’s degree in Fine Art from the University of California, Davis in 1966 under William T. Wiley, Robert Arneson, Frank Owen (b 1939), and Stephen Kaltenbach (b 1940) and honorary degrees from the San Francisco Art Institute (1989) and California Institute of Art (2000). In 1966 he began to teach at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Nauman’s interactive artworks and performances explore the syntactical nuances of language, text, and figurative gesture to create material culture and in-between places, which often result in a heightened sense of physical and emotional awareness. Nauman’s artistic explorations of spatial perception, bodily consciousness, physical and mental activity, and linguistic manipulation were demonstrated in interactive spatial compositions that accentuated various relationships between the human body and built environments. Early works included body castings and holographic self-images with subsequent works situating the viewer within their own mental and bodily perceptions. In ...

Article

Canadian First Nations (Kwakwaka’wakw), 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1969, in Comox (British Columbia).

Conceptual artist, installation artist, sculptor.

Marianne Nicolson is a Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations artist and intellectual. In 1996 she graduated from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and went on to earn an MFA from the University of Victoria in ...

Article

American, 20th–21st century, male.

Born 1938, in Mason City or Electric City (Washington); died 21 January 2011, in New York City.

Painter (including gouache), pastellist, draughtsman, sculptor, installation artist. Multimedia.

Conceptual Art, Minimal Art, Body Art, Land Art.

Dennis Oppenheim studied at the College of Arts and Crafts, California, and the University of Stanford. Until 1967, Oppenheim made sculptures related to the primary structures of Minimal Art, although they are comparatively small and he presented them in series of trapezoidal boxes and cylindrical trunks. From 1967, he lived and worked in New York City. In 1967–1968, he became a conceptual artist and a proponent of Land Art, working mainly out of doors and in large spaces. He then documented his operations by means of photographs accompanied by texts and plans. Great care was taken with the graphic presentation of his actions, as the works themselves are largely ephemeral. He mowed undulating lines in fields, traced paths through cultivated land and snowfields, and in New York he spread rectangles of salt in the city’s streets. He also worked in the sea, spreading pigment in the water, then covering the surface with burning petrol and meticulously photographing the results. These experiments led the Yale Faculty of Architecture to commission from him plans for the sculptural use of excavations created by road building. He made practical volumes consisting of mounds, depressions, and steps that could be climbed between them. In 1969, after befriending artist Vito Acconci, he experimented with Body Art, often subjecting himself to violent physical alterations such as sunburns. Oppenheim’s use of his own body explored the connection between a work and its site, using the physical body itself as not only a medium but a place. During the 1970s, he was extremely prolific, creating installations that included puppets representing himself with animals and various objects that related to the events and worries of his own life. The late 1970s series ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1955, in Pittsfield (Maine).

Painter (including mixed media), sculptor.

Conceptual Art.

Material Group.

As a conceptual artist, Tim Rollins was one of the founders of the group Material. However, he owes his fame to his educational work with disadvantaged children in state schools. While teaching in a school in the South Bronx in the early 1980s he became aware of how receptive the children were to art when taught in a non-academic way. He decided to open the Art of Knowledge Workshop, then became associated with the KOS (Kids of Survival), the pupils he works with regularly to carry out common projects. His work with KOS is generally based on literary texts by Shakespeare, Aristophanes or Langston Hughes. The creation of the work, which usually combines text and images, is preceded by discussions and preparatory drawings....