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Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Oklahoma City, OK, 1946).

American painter and printmaker. MacConnel grew up in Oklahoma City, OK, and traveled frequently, especially to Mexico. He received a BA with honors in visual art at the University of California at San Diego, La Jolla (UCSD). He was a California State Scholar in 1970. MacConnel received an MFA with honors from UCSD. While a graduate student, he met visiting critic and art historian Amy Goldin, a visiting professor. He also met Robert Kushner, who was also a student in Goldin’s class and who also befriended Goldin. Goldin taught them in a seminar called “The Art Box,” where she encouraged the students to look beyond definitions of the current art world. She wanted the students to consider visual culture—everything from quilts to folk art—as related to contemporary art. Decoration was one of the things she encouraged MacConnel to examine. Decorations was his first solo show in 1971 at UCSD where he showed work inspired by world decoration. In his work, he combined and juxtaposed unexpected and often unorthodox images and patterns. His work had strong reminiscences in the bold coloring and strong patterning of such artists as Henri Matisse, who also considered non-Western source material. He became one of the founding artists of the ...

Article

Sascha Scott

(b Vlachovo Březí, Bohemia [Czech Republic], Nov 7, 1890; d Bronx, New York, June 24, 1972).

American painter and printmaker of Czech birth. Matulka was raised in South Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) and began his artistic training in Prague in 1905, which was interrupted when he immigrated to the USA with his parents in 1907. They settled in the Bronx, and soon after he enrolled in the National Academy of Design. He completed his training in 1917, at which time he was awarded the National Academy of Design’s Joseph Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship, which came with a $1500 prize. Unable to travel abroad due to complications in securing a passport, he traveled instead to New Mexico, Arizona and Florida between 1917 and 1918. In 1918, he married Ludmila Jirouskova, a fellow Bohemian immigrant. From 1917 through 1919 was a period of frequent travel and artistic experimentation for Matulka. Around this time he adopted a Cubist-inspired style, apparent in works such as Cubist Nudes (1916–19; Lincoln, U. NE, Sheldon Mem. A.G.) and ...

Article

W. Douglass Paschall

(Bainbridge)

(b Norristown, PA, July 5, 1864; d Philadelphia, PA, Nov 20, 1942).

American painter, illustrator and teacher. Born in Norristown, near Philadelphia, McCarter enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1879, at the age of 15. Of the several hundred students who moved through the classes of Thomas Eakins at the Pennsylvania Academy, none would move as far, stylistically and temperamentally, from their teacher as McCarter. Though later he would regard the five years he studied there as “years lost,” his training was sufficient to earn him a post drawing imagery for the Philadelphia Press.

In 1887 McCarter sailed to Europe for further studies under Léon Bonnat and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and an apprenticeship to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in the medium of lithography. On his return to the United States, McCarter, grounded in the international style of graphic arts, settled in New York to a prosperous career and continued transatlantic travels as an illustrator for McClure’s, Harper’s, Century...

Article

Miwako Tezuka

(b Taegu, Korea, June 5, 1973).

Korean painter. When Moon moved to the USA in 1999 to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, she already had an MFA in painting from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea. She eventually earned her second MFA from University of Iowa in 2002. In her ink and acrylic painting on paper, Moon combines references to popular culture with images and techniques reminiscent of her Asian cultural background such as calligraphy.

The essential characteristic of Moon’s work is its visual and material hybridity that owes much to her expertise in both Asian and Western painting traditions. Dynamic use of color, allover composition and depictions of quasi-organic motifs in Moon’s landscapes may suggest affinity to abstract painting by Helen Frankenthaler. Just as many Abstract Expressionists did, Moon’s composition envisions primordial landscape of a life-giving planet where chaos is destructive and creative at the same time. For example, Haven (...

Article

Nancy Siegel

(b Bolton-le-Moor, Lancs, England, Aug 19, 1829; d New York, NY, June 7, 1901).

American painter of English birth. His brothers, John (1831–1902), Thomas and Peter (1841–1914) were also artists (see Moran, Thomas, as was Thomas’s wife, Mary Nimmo Moran (1842–99). The eldest of ten children, Moran’s first instruction in drawing occurred in 1838 and continued after his arrival in the United States in 1844 where he worked in various vocations around Philadelphia. In 1853 he became an assistant to the marine painter Hamilton, James who taught Moran the art of lithography and encouraged him to open a studio for himself. Moran exhibited his first painting, View of the Susquehanna, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1854, and throughout his career his landscapes and seascapes met with much critical acclaim.

He shared his home and studio with his brother Thomas from 1855 until 1859 when he married his first wife, Elizabeth McManes, with whom he had two sons, Edward Percy (...

Article

Kate Wight

(b Lafayette, AL, 1900; d New Orleans, LA, July 8, 1980).

American painter, musician and evangelical preacher. Morgan lived in Alabama and Georgia in her early life and was married to Will Morgan in 1928. At the age of 38 she experienced a divine calling, which prompted her to become a street evangelist. Morgan believed she was called by God to preach the Gospel and serve through her art. She left her family and husband and moved to New Orleans. There, she ran a mission and orphanage for 17 years until in 1956 she again heard the voice of God, this time specifically telling her to paint.

The subject of her art was primarily the Bible, and particularly the Book of Revelation. Morgan’s drawings and paintings were often figural and featured text with apocalyptic messages. A popular phrase in her works was “Jesus is my airplane.” After a later revelation, Morgan believed she was the bride of Christ and began wearing only white garments. She began portraying herself in this way within her works....

Article

Amy M. Mooney

(b New Orleans, LA, Oct 7, 1891; d Chicago, IL, Jan 16, 1981).

American painter. Motley consciously dedicated himself to the depiction of African Americans. Through his portraits and genre scenes, Motley created a visual legacy that extended the Harlem Renaissance beyond the boundaries of New York and incorporated the individualist and reform spirit of the Ashcan school. Optimistically, he believed that art could contribute to the end of racial prejudice, a sentiment espoused by both W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke. During his academic training at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1914 to 1918, Motley synthesized a variety of approaches towards the composition, color and meaning of art. He believed that each element of a painting should be carefully considered for both its significance and aesthetic contribution to the overall composition. After graduation, Motley began to exhibit works in Chicago, winning prestigious prizes and critical acclaim. In 1919 The Chicago Defender published his article the “Negro in Art,” in which he urged African American patronage and participation in art making. Though his realist portraits may reflect realist tenets, Motley synthesized elements of modernism, experimenting with abstraction and artifice as especially evident in his scenes of black urban life....

Article

Marisa J. Pascucci

(b Marlboro, MA, Aug 25, 1867; d Lexington, MA, April 16, 1945).

American painter and frame designer. Murphy painted landscapes, still lifes and portraits in the Tonalist and Impressionist manner (see Tonalism and Impressionism). In the 1880s he enrolled in the Boston Museum School and studied under Edmund C(harles) Tarbell and Frank W(eston) Benson. After this period of study, he served as an illustrator for the Nicaraguan Canal Expedition in 1887 and contributed illustrations to books and magazines from 1888 to 1894. Once he had saved enough money from his illustration work, he left Boston to study in Paris at the Académie Julian from 1891 to 1896 with Jean-Paul Laurens. While in Paris, he met James McNeill Whistler who had the greatest influence on his work. Murphy returned to the Boston area in 1897 and was awarded the bronze medal at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. A year later he began teaching life drawing at Harvard School of Architecture, a position he held until ...

Article

Sascha Scott

(b Petersburg, VA, March 20, 1867; d New York, NY, June 29, 1940).

American painter and illustrator. Raised by an invalid mother and largely absent father, Myers lived in Philadelphia, Trenton and Baltimore during his difficult childhood. He moved to New York City in 1881, where he found employment painting signs, interiors and theater screens. Myers began his formal artistic training at Cooper Union in 1887. A year later, he enrolled at the Art Students League, where he studied for the next eight years. His most notable instructors were George de Forest Brush and Kenyon Cox, whom Myers described as conservative forces that he reacted against. By the mid-1890s, his artistic output largely consisted of drawings, pastels, watercolors and etchings. He was a fine draftsman who successfully captured the energy of the urban life that he observed in the Lower East Side and other working-class neighborhoods. Gallery owner William Macbeth encouraged him to turn his focus to oils in 1902. Myers subsequently exhibited his paintings at the Macbeth Gallery in ...

Article

Neo-Geo  

Tom Williams

[Neo-geometric; Neo-minimalism]

Term typically applied to a diverse group of artists that emerged in New York during the mid-1980s, including Ashley Bickerton, Ross Bleckner, Peter Halley, Jeff Koons, Allan McCollum, Haim Steinbach, Philip Taaffe and Meyer Vaisman. Although the artists associated with this term differ greatly from one another, it is frequently used in relation to two tendencies: on one hand, to artists that simulated modernist geometric abstraction and, on the other, to a group of appropriation artists who borrowed imagery from contemporary consumer culture. The term has sometimes been characterized as a marketing ploy, but it has also appeared in many retrospective accounts of the period. It is sometimes described as shorthand for New Geometry or Neo-Geometric Conceptualism and is often used more or less interchangeably with commodity art, Neo-Conceptualism, New Abstraction and Simulationism.

“Neo-Geo” was first used in reference to a 1986 exhibition at the Sonnabend Gallery in SoHo that included Bickerton, Halley, Koons and Vaisman. These artists were particularly associated with the emerging East Village art scene at the time, and the exhibition was discussed as the beginning of a new movement that would displace Neo-Expressionism as the dominant trend in the New York art world. Many of the artists associated with Neo-Geo were discussed in terms of the then-fashionable ideas about Postmodernism and hyperreality, particularly in reference to the writings of Jean Baudrillard, and their art was often described as a challenge to modernist conceptions of artistic originality. A number of these artists engaged in appropriating existing images, practices and materials, but they frequently challenged the accepted significance of these elements or imbued them with new meaning. Artists like Halley and McCollum adopted the geometry of modernist abstraction, for example, but rejected its metaphysical associations and instead used it to address mass production or institutional power. Halley, in particular, described his Day-Glo abstractions as a response to the geometric unreality of the highways, the prisons and the circuit boards of the postindustrial world. Along similar lines, McCollum produced multiple plaster casts of monochrome paintings that he referred to as “surrogates,” and he then displayed them in groups to call attention to their unoriginality and their manufactured character. Artists such as Bickerton and Koons, on the other hand, were more preoccupied with the contemporary consumer culture than with the infrastructures of power. Bickerton’s ...

Article

(b Tullstorp, Malmöhus, April 13, 1878; d Lambertville, NJ, April 21, 1955).

American painter and printmaker of Swedish birth. Born Bror Julius Olsson, the artist moved with his family from Sweden to Chicago as a teenager. He took his mother’s maiden name early in his career so as not to be confused with painter Julius Olsson. In his youth, he worked as a typesetter for Hemlandet, a Swedish-language newspaper based in Chicago. His formal training as an artist began at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he studied with Frederick Richardson (1862–1937). In 1899, he was chosen to assist Albert Herter (1871–1950) on a large mural project for the McCormick International Harvester Company. A year later, the Harvester Company sent him abroad to see the mural at the Paris Exposition Universelle. While in Paris, he briefly studied at the Académie Julian. Within a year, he left for Reading, England, to study Japanese woodblock cutting and printing with Frank Morley Fletcher (...

Article

Julie Aronson

(b Mt Healthy, OH, Oct 26, 1859; d Oct 8, 1938).

American painter and draftsman, active also in France. Born in a suburb of Cincinnati, Nourse was descended from French Huguenots who had settled in New England, and her prosperous family had lost their fortune during the Civil War. In 1874, she and her twin sister Adelaide entered Cincinnati’s McMicken School of Design, the leading training ground for the fine arts in the West. She thrived on the rigorous education in drawing there and excelled at sculpture, but working from the human body was not yet in the curriculum. As a woman, Nourse could not study in the first life class in Cincinnati, taught by the Munich-trained Frank Duveneck, whose painterly realism captivated the city’s young artists. Nevertheless, her direct approach, experimentation with bold brushwork and attraction to lower-class subjects suggest his influence. Nourse distinguished herself with her sensitivity to the inner life of her sitters, as seen in a series of character studies in oil of young African American girls she painted in ...

Article

Annie Dell’Aria

(b Conehatta, MS, June 20, 1933).

American painter. Born in rural Mississippi, Overstreet grew up primarily in the Bay Area, California. Following some time in the Merchant Marines and in San Francisco, Overstreet moved to New York City in 1958, where he set up his studio for most of his career. In the early 1960s, Overstreet was directly involved with the Black Arts Repertory Theater, part of a career-long commitment to the African American legacy in the arts. In 1974, he co-founded with Samuel C. Floyd and his partner Corrine Jennings Kenkeleba House in New York, an alternative venue dedicated to supporting, collecting and exhibiting the work of minority American artists.

Visually, Overstreet’s canvases have had both a long engagement with the tradition of abstraction in Western art and an impetus to connect with and speak to the African American experience. Active since the 1950s, his early canvases drew heavily from the work of Hans Hofmann...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

[P&D; The New Decorativeness]

Optimistic and progressive painting movement of the 1970s and early 1980s in America. The Pattern and Decoration (P&D) movement provided an outlet for artists facing a crisis with painting, which had become increasingly formal and conceptual. P&D artists used decoration, pattern, beauty and visual pleasure in their art as a response to the restrictive aesthetics of the art world and its market of that period.

This informal group of artists included Cynthia Carlson (b 1942), Brad Davis (b 1942), Valerie Jaudon, Jane Kaufman (b 1938), Joyce Kozloff, Robert Kushner, Kim MacConnel, Tony Robbin (b 1943), Miriam Schapiro, Ned Smyth (see fig.) (b 1948) and Robert Zakanitch, who worked on art inspired by imagery from the distant past and faraway places to their present. There were many other artists gaining notoriety for similar painting, but here the focus is on this group of artists who came together for a brief period for meetings, panels and exhibitions. P&D as a movement can be understood by surveying its beginnings, considering the main events/exhibitions and then exploring the recognition that resulted and the backlash that occurred....

Article

Jeff Stockton

(Maurilio )

(b Laredo, TX, 1943).

American painter and printmaker of Mexican and Yaqui descent (mestizo). Peña’s art celebrated the strength of a native people who met the harsh realities of life in an uncompromising land, and his work was a tribute to the Native Americans who survived by living in harmony with an adversarial, untamed environment. His artwork was inspired by places in the Southwest that were part of an enduring landscape and represented the ancient heritage of the region that is now Arizona and New Mexico.

Peña’s work was defined by its bold color and form and dynamic composition. Abstract landscapes merged with human forms, and blanket and pottery patterns entered into the overall design. A prolific artist, Peña produced primarily watercolors and etchings, in addition to drawings, graphics, ceramics and jewelry. Irrespective of the medium, the recurring motif (and Peña’s artistic trademark) was a modeled, angular profile of a Native American man or woman, which he used as a simplified storytelling device....

Article

Nikki A. Greene

(Amos)

(b Baltimore, MD, Dec 22, 1905; d Washington, DC, Feb 28, 1970).

American art historian, critic, educator and painter. Porter greatly influenced African American art and scholarship. He immediately began teaching art at Howard University, Washington, DC, upon graduation in 1926. He later continued his art training in New York, where he worked toward a degree at Teachers College and enrolled at the Art Students League in 1929, studying figure drawing with George Bridgman (1865–1943). He received a Master of Arts degree in Art History from the Fine Arts Graduate Center at New York University in 1937. Porter also received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Carnegie Foundation Institute of International Education scholarship for study in Paris and a Rockefeller Foundation grant for study in Belgium, Holland, Germany and Italy in 1935.

In 1953, Porter became Head of the Department of Art and Director of the Art Gallery at Howard University, the first of its kind established at a black institution. Under his leadership, he organized many important exhibitions, and the gallery expanded its collection of not only African American artists, but also Renaissance paintings and sculpture. His own work included realist oil paintings, pastels, watercolors and prints, with a keen interest in the human figure. Between ...

Article

Henry Adams

(b Wilmington, DE, March 5, 1853; d Florence, Nov 9, 1911).

American illustrator and writer. Along with such figures as Edwin Austin Abbey, Arthur Burdett Frost and Charles Stanley Reinhart, Pyle was instrumental in raising American book and magazine illustration to a higher level, and inaugurating what is often termed the “Golden Age” of American illustration. Pyle was born in Wilmington, DE, counting among his ancestors some of the original Quaker settlers of the place. His mother, who encouraged his interest in literature, art and fantasy, introduced him to fairy tales, as well as to classic stories such as Pilgrim’s Progress and Robinson Crusoe. After graduating from high school, Pyle attended a small private art academy in Philadelphia for three years, his only formal training. This was run by a Francis Adolf van der Wielen (b 1847), a graduate of the art academy in Antwerp, who was a stern taskmaster in matters of academic technique.

In 1876, Pyle produced an illustrated article on the wild horses of Chincoteague that was accepted by ...

Article

Deborah F. Pokinski

(Lewis)

(b Stockbridge, MA, July 29, 1862; d Clifton Springs, NY, Dec 2, 1929).

American painter and muralist. Reid attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1880–84), then moved to New York, studying briefly at the Art Students League. In 1885 he went to Paris, studying at the Académie Julian where he received training as a muralist under Gustave(-Clarence-Rodolphe) Boulanger and Jules(-Joseph) Lefebvre. In 1889 he returned to New York and began painting portraits and teaching at the Art Students League (1893–6).

Decorative murals—typically idealized, allegorical figure compositions—were in great demand during the era of Beaux-Arts architectural design. Reid created a number of them, including at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 and in the Library of Congress, as well as for hotels, churches and even an ocean liner.

By the early 1890s Reid began adopting Impressionist qualities to define his signature theme—attractive young women in light, gauzy dresses, out of doors, surrounded by flowers. Images of upper-class women, usually isolated and pensive, were among the most popular subjects of turn-of-the-century American painters, although Reid rejected the more conventional interior settings of his peers for light filled exteriors and generally even-toned, pastel colours. His ribbon-like strokes of paint both suggested dappled sunlight and flattened his forms. As a result, in works such as ...

Article

Michelle Yun

(b New York, NY, Dec 25, 1944).

American sculptor, draftsman and installation artist. Saret received a BArch from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, in 1966 and subsequently studied at Hunter College in New York under Robert Morris from 1966 to 1968. In the late 1960s his work was classified as part of the “anti-form” movement, which rejected the rigidity of Minimalism in favor of creating non-figurative works that were structured in part by the inherent physical properties of the industrial materials favored by this group.

Saret’s early sculptures from the 1960s and 1970s were primarily crafted from industrial metal wire of varying thickness, though he also sometimes used rubber, wire mesh or other non-art materials. They were often suspended from the ceiling or installed directly on the ground and exuded a weightless, ephemeral quality akin to clouds or gestural drawings rendered three-dimensionally. It was around this time, in 1967, that Saret began his ongoing Gang drawings series. These gestural drawings were initially created as preliminary studies for the sculptures and were produced by the artist spontaneously grabbing a handful, or “gang,” of colored pencils, thereby integrating an element of chance to the process....

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b New York, NY, 1932).

American artist. Born in New York City, Semmel was trained at several schools in the metropolitan area, including the High School of Music and Art, Pratt Institute, The Art Students League of New York and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art from which she later received a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1985. She was trained in an Abstract Expressionist style, much in vogue. She worked in an abstract style. She moved to Madrid, Spain in 1963, returning to New York City in 1970. Semmel completed her graduate work at Pratt in 1972 and then became involved in the Women’s Movement, actively supporting and meeting with other women artists to find ways to show their work and participating in the journal Heresies , published by the Heresies Collective, a group of women artists. She also began teaching, first at Pratt, then at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Rutgers University. Her painting shifted to a figurative mode as a way for her to paint the female body and paint from a personal perspective in a more direct manner. Semmel painted on large canvases of six to nine feet, pushing the nude figure into the forward picture plane, directly in front of the viewer. She photographed her body, looking down on it. This point of view created a foreshortened image of the female body from the way a woman would look at herself, contrasting to the long history of the nude being looked at by others. She then went on to examine loving heterosexual couples, limbs intertwined in bed and seen from the perspective of the woman, engaged in embraces, sex, or post-coital relaxation. Her figures become almost abstract because they are seen so close up. She participated in creating a feminist erotics in her art. Semmel’s paintings are part of the ways women at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century look at themselves. She is of specific importance to American art as one of the main artists who examined the human body from a woman’s perspective....