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Bridget Cooks

(b Nashville, TN, c. 1874; d Nashville, TN, 1951).

African American sculptor. Edmondson is known for his blocky, abstracted images of animals and angels. Edmondson was born around 1874 in Davidson County near Nashville, TN, where he lived and worked his entire life. While working for the St Louis Railroad in 1907, Edmondson became disabled and took a job as a janitor at Woman’s Hospital. In 1933, he was inspired by God to carve limestone tombstones. He displayed many of his works in his yard where they were seen by Nashville-based poet and Vanderbilt University professor Sidney Hirsch in 1936. This encounter sparked Edmondson’s eventual “discovery” by the New York art world. In 1936 and 1937, fashion photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe took photographs of Edmondson and his sculptures and presented them to Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) director Alfred H(amilton) Barr. Edmondson became the first African American artist to have a solo exhibition at MOMA, titled Exhibition of Sculpture by William Edmondson...

Article

Mary M. Tinti

(b Verdun, France, 1965).

French-born American painter and draftsman. Eisenman was born in France, where her father was stationed as an army psychiatrist, and grew up in Scarsdale, NY. In 1987 she earned her BFA in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. She then began creating an oeuvre of critically acclaimed paintings, murals, drawings, cartoons and illustrations that seamlessly weave together the subjects and symbols of art history, ancient mythology, popular culture and feminist inquiry. Eisenman also mined her own personal interests, humor and biography and in the process created unique, biting and purposefully anachronistic juxtapositions. Her wickedly witty works subvert culturally pervasive social and gender stereotypes.

Like many women artists learning their craft in the 1980s, Eisenman did not discover the art of her female predecessors until much later in her studies (at a time when their works were only just receiving increased attention). Early influences include Sigmar Polke, Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Haim Steinbach, Jeff Koons, Chris Burden and Cindy Sherman alongside a fondness for comic book graphics, punk rock and the culture, artists and ethos of the East Village in New York. Eisenman credits her 1990s exposure to the works of ...

Article

Alexandra Chang

Artists’ collective founded in 1982 by Bing Lee, Eric Chan (b 1975), Chung Kang Lok, Jerry Kwan (1934–2008), Ming Fay (b 1943) and Kwok, under the guiding principle of collaboration. Lee had also founded the Visual Arts Society in Hong Kong prior to Epoxy. While the original members had come to New York City’s downtown arts scene from Hong Kong, the collective ranged from four to eleven members and included artists from China, Canada and elsewhere, such as Zhang Hongtu (b 1943) and Andrew Culver (b 1953).

The group’s name originates from the epoxy resin gluing agent in which two different substances are blended to generate a third substance, which binds. The members felt that through collaboration, they could create projects that were singular to neither one nor the other member, and also suggest East and West cross-cultures. The group often worked with mixed-media, photocopied images, sound installation and projection, and dealt with topics concerning politics and religion....

Article

Mona Hadler

(b Cologne, June 25, 1920; d New York, Feb 6, 1984).

American painter of German birth. His father was the prominent Surrealist artist Max(imilian) Ernst and his mother was the art historian and journalist Louise [Lou] Straus-Ernst. In 1935 he was apprenticed as a typographer in the printing firm of J. J. Augustin in Glückstadt where he set type for anthropological studies. The company worked to attain a visa for Ernst, whose mother was Jewish, and he departed Germany one week before Kristallnacht in 1938; his mother was to die in Auschwitz at the end of the war. Ernst passionately recounts these events in his memoir, A Not-So-Still Life, published in 1984, the year of his death.

In 1941, on the recommendation of gallerist Julien Levy, Ernst was employed by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. After welcoming his father to the city, he began to work for Peggy Guggenheim, which placed him securely within the Surrealist émigré community and burgeoning New York school along with friends such as the painter William Baziotes. His career as an art dealer advanced in tandem with his painting production. With Eleanor Lust, he opened the experimental Norlyst Gallery in ...

Article

Mary M. Tinti

Artists’ space in New York. Since its inception in 1982, Exit Art has set the standard for socially responsible, innovatively curated and consistently relevant alternative artists’ spaces. Unlike many of the alternative spaces or collectives of the 1980s, Exit Art quickly emerged as a nonprofit arts and cultural center with lasting power well beyond the decade. Founders and co-directors Papo Colo (b 1947; an artist) and Jeanette Ingberman (a curator) formed Exit Art to offer artists a progressive organization outside the existing museum and gallery matrix. They sought to create a cross-cultural, multi-racial and cross-disciplinary context in which artists could exhibit their reactions to important contemporary issues as they happened (be they on a civic or global scale) and begin to shift perceptions regarding the purpose and place of art within society.

In the 1980s Exit Art gave thoughtful, timely mid-career exhibitions to Willie Birch (b 1942), ...

Article

Keith Gibson

(b Richmond, VA, Oct 28, 1844; d Rome, Italy, March 21, 1917).

American sculptor, active in Italy. Ezekiel earned international fame during the third quarter of the 19th century for his allegorical monuments and portraiture. Ezekiel was the first Jewish American to create sculptural monuments for the Jewish community and was also noted for his Civil War memorials to Southern heroes. His career was spent in Rome living and working as an expatriate.

Born and raised in Richmond, VA, Ezekiel entered the Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, in 1862. His war-time cadetship and especially his participation, along with the rest of the cadet corps in the Battle of New Market greatly influenced him and provided the subjects for several of his later works. Following the Civil War Ezekiel began his sculpture study under the direction of Thomas Dow Jones (1811–81) in Cincinnati, OH, a city with a thriving arts community. His first serious work, Industry (1868; Los Angeles, CA, Skirball Cult. Cent. & Mus.), depicts a young girl dutifully absorbed in handiwork. It was during this year in Cincinnati that Ezekiel was inspired to study in Germany by news of the design for the Tyler Davidson Fountain by the German sculptor August von Kreling (...

Article

Karen Kurczynski

Alternative art space founded by Stefan Eins (b 1943) at 2803 Third Avenue near 147th Street in the South Bronx, New York, from 1978 to 1993. Eins arrived in New York from Austria in 1967. He referred to Fashion Moda as a museum of “Science, Art, Technology, Invention, and Fantasy,” the title of its inaugural exhibition in 1979. He had previously run a downtown storefront art space called the Mercer Street Store at 3 Mercer Street from 1971 to 1978. Black downtown artist, poet and musician Joe Lewis served as Co-Director of the space with Eins, and William Scott, then a teenager from the neighborhood, served as Junior Director. Their collaborative ventures attempted to connect the street culture of the South Bronx, by then a neighborhood in the midst of massive economic decline, to an international cultural scene.

From its opening in 1978, annually funded with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council of the Arts and other sources, Fashion Moda held auctions, performances, seminars and other events. Joe Lewis described it as “an outlet for the disenfranchised, a Salon des Réfusés that cut across the uptown/downtown dichotomy, across the black/white/Hispanic isolation.” Although its glass storefront was located in a neighborhood far from the Soho gallery district, its impact has been measured largely by its effect on the more mainstream art world of the 1980s and early 1990s. It introduced and exhibited a number of artists including Charles Ahearn, John Ahearn (...

Article

Marshall N. Price

[Ferren, Millard James]

(b Pendleton, OR, Oct 17, 1905; d Southampton, NY, July 25, 1970).

American painter. Born Millard James Ferren, following high school in Los Angeles, Ferren took the first name John and moved to San Francisco where he learned stonecarving, worked as a telephone engineer and had contact with modernist artists such as Yun Gee and Rinaldo Cuneo (1877–1939). He initially worked as a sculptor but soon began painting. Ferren traveled to Europe twice as a young man, first in 1929 and then later from 1931 to 1938, residing in Paris and Mallorca, Spain. While in Europe he studied at the académies Colorossi and Ronson, as well as the Sorbonne and the universities of Florence, Italy, and Salamanca, Spain. In Paris he became friendly with artists who were codifying the language of abstract art such as Piet (er Cornelis) Mondrian, Jean Hélion, Joaquín Torres García (1874–1949) and S(tanley) W(illiam) Hayter, among others. Ferren played a role in bringing this language to America, first as part of the exhibition ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Evanston, IL, 1956).

American performance artist. Finley is noted for her controversial pieces and her work has been called “obscene,” “lewd” and “vulgar” because she has graphically examined such subjects in her art as politics, sexuality, scatology, identity, violence and abuse, among other divisive topics. Her works are also called theatrical solo shows. She explored feminist content through her performances, which were often derided by the public, even after she developed her audience within the art world. In her art, she combined monologues with manipulation of her body, including pouring substances onto herself. Using her partially or fully nude body, she entices the viewer, but then quickly subverts the experience of looking at her by pouring, smearing, or otherwise covering parts or all of herself. Her writing is well-crafted and provocative both in subject and form.

Finley studied art as a child at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Young Artist Studio program in ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Philadelphia, PA, Jan 14, 1939).

American painter. Fishman is an abstract painter who came of age at the end of the 1960s when Abstract Expressionism was the dominant mode of painting and the Women’s Movement was gaining momentum. She attended the Philadelphia College of Art, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, eventually receiving her BFA and BS degree from Tyler School of Fine Arts. There she received two senior prizes—the First Painting Prize, Student Exhibit, Tyler School of Art, and the Bertha Lowenberg Prize for the Senior Woman to Excel in Art (1963). She went on to receive her MFA from University of Illinois in Champaign (1965); that same year, she relocated to New York City. She received numerous grants and fellowships, including National Endowment for the Arts grants (1975–6; 1983–4; 1994); a Guggenheim Fellowship in Painting (1979); a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire (...

Article

Mark Alan Hewitt

(b Pink Hill, TX, Dec 3, 1905; d San Antonio, TX, July 20, 1982).

American architect. Born in the tiny town of Pink Hill, TX, Ford was a self-taught architect who came to embody the freewheeling spirit of the Lone Star state. He was fortunate to attend two schools with strong arts and crafts educational programs: Jefferson Elementary School in Denton and North Texas State Teachers’ College in Sherman. Because of his father’s early death and the need to support his family, he worked in a brick factory to earn enough money for four semesters at the college, but could not finish a degree there, leaving in 1925. While continuing at the factory he managed to finish an architectural course through the International Correspondence Schools of Scranton, PA.

Ford went to work in 1926 for the pioneering regionalist architect David R. Williams in Dallas. There he developed a keen appreciation for both modern art and vernacular architecture. When Williams left Texas in 1932 to head the National Youth Administration (NYA; a New Deal office in Washington, DC), Ford opened his own architectural office in Dallas. He was able to design a few modest houses before the Depression shut down the building industry in the mid-1930s. His first large independent work, the Frank Murchison residence in Dallas, was not completed until ...

Article

Anna Moszynska

(b San Mateo, CA, June 25, 1923; d Santa Monica, CA, Nov 4, 1994).

American painter and printmaker. Following an accident leading to spinal tuberculosis while serving in the US Army Air Corps, Francis started to paint for distraction in 1944, studying privately under David Park in 1947. He subsequently relinquished his earlier medical studies in favor of painting, completing his BA (1949) and MA (1950) at the University of California at Berkeley. During this period he experimented with different styles of painting, notably Surrealism and the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and particularly Clyfford Still. His own style emerged in 1949–50; in Opposites (1950; Tokyo, Idemitsu Mus. A.), for example, dripping, corpuscular shapes painted in fluid red circulate freely around the canvas, indicating what was to become a perennial concern with “ceaseless instability.” With its sensitivity to sensuous color and light, Francis’s work was already showing very different concerns from the expressive iconography and energy of many of the Abstract Expressionists....

Article

Christian F. Otto

(b Düsseldorf, 1921; d Santa Fe, NM, Oct 6, 2012).

American architect of German birth. Franzen was a major figure of the first postwar generation of American architects, among them Paul Rudolph, Harry Cobb, John M(aclane) Johansen, and Philip Johnson. Franzen immigrated with his family to the United States in 1936. His architectural training and experience was shaped by modernists: Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (Franzen received his MArch in 1948), I. M. Pei (Franzen worked for Pei from 1950–55), and Mies van der Rohe (especially his Chicago architecture). He founded his own firm, Ulrich Franzen and Associates, in 1955.

Franzen has characterized his work as “collage architecture”: designs that combine diverse forms and qualities. He felt that the first condition of building was “the simultaneous solution of opposites” (as Alvar Aalto defined architecture). From the work of Mies van der Rohe he learned the discipline of precise detail and exacting proportion. Louis Kahn’s architecture offered the concept of served and servant spaces. Similarly, Franzen’s buildings explore open, continuous space, a plenitude of natural light, transparencies between interior and exterior, articulated structure and minimal, undecorated form. But Franzen also expanded the modernist palate to include traditional as well as industrial materials, and in place of unitary form, he promoted an architecture enriched by “acknowledging the antagonism between form and purpose and ambiguities of reality.”...

Article

Christopher Johnstone

[Friström, Clas Edvard]

(b Torhamn, nr Karlskrona, Sweden, Jan 23, 1864; d San Anselmo, CA, March 27, 1950).

Sweden-born painter and teacher, active in Australia, New Zealand, and America. In 1884, Fristrom joined his older brother, the painter Oscar Fristrom (1856–1918), in Queensland, married in 1886, and became an Australian citizen in 1888. Employed as a photographic retoucher, Fristrom was a self-taught artist and from 1899 to 1902 he exhibited 53 paintings, including landscapes and figure studies, some featuring Aborigines, at the Queensland Art Society exhibitions. Fristrom’s artistic success is indicated by two commissions from the state government and enthusiastic reviews in the press.

In 1903 Fristrom travelled to the United States and then to New Zealand, settling in Auckland and joining the Auckland Society of Arts. He exhibited 60 paintings there, almost all landscapes, from 1904 to 1914. Until 1911 Fristrom regularly travelled around New Zealand, from Gisborne to Hokitika, selling his paintings at auctions. He also taught at the Elam School of Art, Auckland from ...

Article

Anthony W. Lee

(b Gee Village [now Chu Village], Guangdong Province, China, Feb 22, 1906; d New York, NY, June 5, 1963).

American painter, poet, essayist and inventor. Gee traveled to San Francisco in 1921, joining his father, a merchant in Chinatown. In 1925 he enrolled at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) where he took classes with Otis Oldfield (1890–1969) and Gottardo Piazzoni and experimented for the first time in oils. A year later he co-founded two separate art collectives, the Modern Gallery, comprised mostly of white artists with substantial European-based training, and the Chinese Revolutionary Artists’ Club, comprised exclusively of young Chinese immigrants. The differences between the groups reflected an ongoing tension in Gee’s professional and political ambitions between the search for newer forms of modern art and the desire to ennoble a diasporic Chinese sensibility. He initially developed a style of short, choppy brushwork and the juxtaposition of hot and cold colors, and subjects based on the people, streets and goods of Chinatown. He would later call this practice “Diamondism.”...

Article

Oldest and largest photography museum in the United States, located in Rochester, NY. Since it opened its doors to the public in November 1949, George Eastman House has played a pivotal role in shaping and expanding the field of American photography. George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company, never knew his home would become a museum; he bequeathed the mansion where he lived from 1905 until 1932 to the University of Rochester to serve as the residence of its president. In 1946 a board of trustees was formed to establish George Eastman House as an independent, non-profit museum, a memorial to Eastman and his advancements in photographic technology.

Working under director Oscar Solbert, a retired US Army general and former Kodak executive, was the museum’s first curator, Beaumont Newhall. Newhall transformed the museum from one primarily concerned with the technical applications of photography to one emphasizing its artistic development. The museum became an international centre of scholarship, and in ...

Article

Avis Berman

(b Roxbury, MA, Sept 14, 1867; d New York, NY, Dec 23, 1944).

American illustrator. Gibson’s graphic creation, the “Gibson Girl,” became a symbol of upper-middle-class American womanhood from 1890 to 1914. The Gibson Girl’s appearance and dress were widely imitated and her popularity helped shape social attitudes at a time when women’s roles were undergoing dramatic changes.

Growing up in Massachusetts and New York City, Gibson entered the Art Students League at 16, studying there for two years. In 1885 he left school to make a living as an illustrator. Gibson drew in pen-and-ink, his medium for the rest of his career, but his early sketches were stiff and labored. In 1886 he sold his first drawing for $4 to Life, a weekly humor magazine. Emulating the draftsmanship of the British cartoonists John Leech, Charles Keene, George Du Maurier and Phil(ip William) May, Gibson developed a freer and more economical style. He successfully sold arch scenes of politics and society to Life...

Article

(b Bristol, May 26, 1833; d London, Oct 6, 1886).

English architect, designer and writer. He had an early interest in archaeology, which was fostered by fragments of medieval carving in his parents’ garden. From the age of 15 he began sketching buildings all over the West Country. In 1851 he contributed illustrations to The Antiquities of Bristol and Neighbourhood, by which time he was apprenticed to William Armstrong of Bristol. Armstrong, perhaps recognizing Godwin’s aptitude, entrusted him with much of his architectural work. This brought Godwin early responsibility but little formal training, a lack that he felt dogged his professional life. In 1854 he established an independent practice, and in an attempt to further his career, in 1856 he joined his brother, an engineer, in Londonderry, Ireland. During his visit he studied castles and abbeys throughout Ireland. He also designed three small Roman Catholic churches in a severe Gothic style at St Johnstown (1857–61), Newtown Cunningham (...

Article

American artists’ collective and support network formed in New York in 1990 by Ken Chu, Bing Lee and cultural critic, curator, and artist Margo Machida. The artists hoped to develop a network of artists and to document and build a discourse on Asian American art. The group disbanded in 2001.

The original members of the group included Tomie Arai, Ken Chu, Karin Higa, Arlan Huang (b 1948), Byron Kim, Colin Lee (b 1953), Bing Lee, Janet Lin, Mei-Lin Liu, Margo Machida, Stephanie Mar, Yong Soon Min, Helen Oji, Eugenie Tsai, and Garson Yu. This small group of artists, arts administrators and critics began by gathering in members’ apartments, but membership quickly grew to over 200 strong, which made it necessary for Godzilla’s meetings to be held in alternative art spaces throughout the city including Artists Space, The Drawing Center, and Art in General. Artists who later joined Godzilla included Allan deSouza (...

Article

Margaret Lynne Ausfeld

(b Montgomery, AL, June 28, 1869; d New York, NY, Jan 29, 1944).

American painter, printmaker, and teacher. In the New York art world of the 1920s and 1930s, Goldthwaite was recognized as an important painter and printmaker of subjects relating to the American South. Although she routinely returned to visit her native state of Alabama, between 1914 and 1944 her primary residence was New York City where her painted portraits, still lifes, and Southern landscapes, as well as limited edition etchings and lithographs, were exhibited in commercial galleries and museums. She received her first formal art training at the National Academy of Design between 1903 and 1906 from instructors including Francis Coates Jones (1857–1932) for painting and Charles Frederick Mielatz (1864–1919) for etching. She also received instruction from the Munich-trained painter, Walter Shirlaw. She traveled to Paris in 1906 where she helped to create an informal atelier, the Académie Moderne. With this group she worked largely independent of the academy system, but occasionally she worked under the supervision French academic painter Charles Guérin. Her gestural and spontaneous style of painting and drawing was strongly influenced by her years in Paris, specifically through her exposure to the milieu of Gertrude Stein, and works of Post-Impressionist painters such as Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse....