Term that has been used variously to refer to either installation art or art that pursues an ecological agenda. In the case of the former, it refers to an art form that is based on the premise that a work of art should invade the totality of the architecture around it and be conceived as a complete space rather than an object hanging on a wall or placed within a space. This idea, which became widespread during the 1960s and 1970s in a number of different aesthetic formulations, can be traced back to earlier types of art not usually referred to as environments: the wall paintings of ancient tombs, the frescoes of Roman or of Renaissance art, and the paintings of Baroque chapels, which surround the spectator and entirely cover the architectural structure that shelters them. Indeed, the whole of art history prior to the transportable easel picture is linked to ...
Alfred Pacquement and Tom Williams
(b Rosario, Santa Fé, Feb 19, 1899; d Comabbio, nr Varese, Sept 7, 1968).
Italian painter, sculptor and theorist of Argentine birth. He moved with his family to Milan in 1905 but followed his father back to Buenos Aires in 1922 and there established his own sculpture studio in 1924. On settling again in Milan he trained from 1928 to 1930 at the Accademia di Brera, where he was taught by the sculptor Adolfo Wildt; Wildt’s devotion to the solemn and monumental plasticity of the Novecento Italiano group epitomized the qualities against which Fontana was to react in his own work. Fontana’s sculpture The Harpooner (gilded plaster, h. 1.73 m, 1934; Milan, Renzo Zavanella priv. col., see 1987 exh. cat., p. 118) is typical of his work of this period, with a dynamic nervousness in the thin shape of the weapon poised to deliver a final blow and in the coarse and formless plinth. Soon afterwards, together with other northern Italian artists such as Fausto Melotti, Fontana abandoned any lingering Novecento elements in favour of a strict and coherent form of abstraction. In ...
David S. Brose
Site of a prehistoric village with complex earthworks, which flourished on the banks of Caloosahatchee River near Lake Okeechobee in south Florida, USA. By c. 450
Sculptural or architectural structure that channels a spring or source of water and shapes it by means of jets or sprays, the water falling into one or more containers or basins.
Fountains may serve decorative or practical purposes and have, in a multitude of forms, been a feature of both public and private spaces since ancient times. They have been erected to celebrate technological advancement in a civilization, for example in the harnessing of water for public use; to serve as objects of religious significance or to commemorate events of historical importance; and to create poetic and theatrical displays.
Whereas the fountain is documented throughout the world, its absence from some areas is due to such factors as the lack of an adequate hydraulic system for its construction or, in terms of the fountain’s decorative function, the prevalence of a different aesthetic for the display of water.
The latter has historically been the case in East Asia. An essential feature of ...
(b Ibadan, 1961).
American computer artist, technologist, writer, and researcher of Nigerian birth. Goldberg grew up in Bethlehem, PA. He received dual BS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984, and a PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1990. His work is notable for operating across science, art, and social disciplines; in 1999 he was Visiting Professor at San Francisco Art Institute and in 2000 at MIT Media Lab. He was co-founder of the Berkeley Center for New Media, and co-founder and Director of the Data and Democracy Initiative of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society. His early artwork emerged from his interest in how robotics, automation, and remote control could make live connections between people, data, and machines. Telegarden, which operated between 1995 and 2004 in the lobby of the Ars Electronica Museum, Linz, Austria, was co-directed by Ken Goldberg and Joseph Santarromana, and enabled people to control a robot arm remotely via the Internet in order to water and tend a real growing garden (Goldberg, ...
(b Cheshire, July 26, 1956).
English sculptor and photographer. He studied fine art at Bradford School of Art (1974–5) and at Preston Polytechnic (1975–8). Goldsworthy works in the open air with natural materials such as stones, leaves and ice. Like other artists associated with ‘Land Art’, such as Richard Long and Hamish Fulton, he uses photographs as permanent documents of the ephemeral structures left in isolated locations. His sculptures are, as he puts it, ‘there all the time’, their aesthetic and formal qualities revealed by his work in and with the landscape. Changing seasons and weather conditions play a large part, often dictating the possibility of making a work, as well as its final appearance. The changeable British weather gives both transience and urgency to sculptures that can melt, topple over or be blown away. Goldsworthy records his work photographically before such damage occurs. Although most are created outdoors in isolation, he has also produced sculptures for galleries (...
(b London, Aug 30, 1950).
English sculptor and draughtsman. He studied archaeology, anthropology and art history at Trinity College, Cambridge (1968–71) and Buddhist meditation in India and Sri Lanka (1971–4), experiences that profoundly inform his work. Influenced by the ideals of Indian sculpture as much as by those of modernism, his sculptures use the human form to explore man’s existence in and relation to the world. He is primarily known for the lead figures cast from his own body. Free of individualizing surface detail, with welding lines emphatically exposed, these remain physical casings rather than imitative representations of the universal human form. His belief that the spiritual and physical selves are inseparable is reflected in works such as Land, Sea and Air II (1982). Three figures, crouching, kneeling and standing, were placed on the seashore, embodying the process of Buddhist spiritual awareness. The work also referred to the earthly condition of the body and man’s relationship with his surroundings. These concerns are further reflected in Gormley’s full use of installation space, with sculptures suspended from ceiling and walls. Many works were made specifically for natural environments, most controversially ...
(b Prilep, March 19, 1925; d Skopje, May 28, 1986).
Macedonian sculptor. He was apprenticed to a local stonecutter in Prilep from c. 1940, and from 1945 he attended the class of Dimo Todorovski (1907–83), founder of modern Macedonian sculpture, at the School of Applied Arts in Skopje. Grabuloski graduated from the Academy of Arts in Belgrade in 1952, having studied under Lojze Dolinar (1893–1970) and Sreten Stojanović (1898–1960). He returned to Skopje and in 1953 founded the Denes group. In the following years he attempted to embody in his work the group’s programme for a synthesis of the arts and architecture. Between 1968 and 1974 he came closest to achieving that aim when he created the huge spherical Monument of Ilinden at Kruševo, central Macedonia, with eight mine-like, radial protrusions arranged on two levels. Comparable in spirit to this monumental project were the ‘ambient sculptures’ that he displayed at his one-man exhibition in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje (...
(b Lima, OH, June 22, 1956).
American installation artist, photographer, and video artist. Hamilton is known for creating complexly structured, highly sensual, site-specific environments that investigate visual and aural relationships with the human body. Hamilton studied textile design at the University of Kansas in Lawrence and sculpture at Yale University School of Art in New Haven. Using a wide range of metaphorical and associative materials, her installations function in the chasm between immediate experience and memory and frequently address the antinomy of creation and destruction in art.
In Privations & Excesses (1989; San Francisco, CA, Capp Street Project), Hamilton sat in a room whose floor was covered with 750,000 pennies, while obsessively wringing her hands in a hat filled with honey and, in an barred space behind her, several sheep grazed. In topos (1993; New York, Dia Center for the Arts), a figure seated in the midst of an expansive sea of interwoven horsehair, fastidiously erased printed letters from a book with a heating coil. In ...
Deborah A. Middleton
(b Berkeley, CA, Nov 4, 1944).
American sculptor, painter, and printmaker. Heizer’s earthworks erected in the vast desert expanses of the American Midwest marked the beginning of the Heizer, Michael movement of the 1960s and liberated art from the confines of the art gallery. Heizer’s early experience and exposure to desert landscapes and Native American culture was influenced by his father Robert Heizer, an important American archaeologist, and his maternal grandfather Olaf P. Jenkins, who was an important early American geologist. He attended the San Francisco Art Institute (1963–4) to study painting and moved to New York (1966). In 1967 Heizer left New York to return to the American Midwest with colleague Walter De Maria, and began artistic collaborations with James Turrell and Robert Smithson to explore the making of land art.
Heizer’s early paintings explored the interaction of two-dimensional and three-dimensional geometric forms influenced by the Abstract Expressionists of the late 1940s and 1950s. By ...
Type of landscape art. It is apparently unique to Britain, and the earliest hill-figures probably pre-date the Roman conquest of the 1st century
(b Worcester, MA, 1938; d New York, Feb 8, 2014).
American land artist. Holt completed a Bachelor of Science degree at Tufts University, Medford, MA, before becoming an artist. Her interest in science became a key element in her art, in which she investigated the physical attributes of perception. Early works, such as Views through a Sand Dune (1972; see T. Castle, ‘Nancy Holt, Siteseer’, A. America, March 1982, p. 88) were simple interventions into the landscape that enhanced or altered the viewer’s experience of that environment. Holt’s first major work, the mighty Sun Tunnels (1973–9, see ‘Sun Tunnels’, Artforum, 15, April 1977, pp. 32–7), was constructed in the Great Basin Desert in north-west Utah. Consisting of four huge tunnels made from highway conduit, they are aligned in an axis to frame the rising and setting sun on the horizon on the two yearly solstices. Continuing the astrological theme, each tunnel was drilled through with a pattern of holes, each in the configuration of a star constellation: Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricorn. Holt also made several videotapes and films, some with her husband, ...
(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. ...
Kristina Van Kirk
(b Long Beach, CA, Sept 12, 1928).
American painter and sculptor. He studied at the Otis Art Institute (1948–50) and at the new and progressive Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles (1952–4), where he adopted an Abstract Expressionist painting style. Through his association with the Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles (1959–66), he came into contact with such artists as Ed Moses (b 1926) and Billy Al Bengston. Irwin disdained his early paintings for their lack of ‘potency’. In the early 1960s he began a continuous series of experiments. He broke with figuration, searching like Minimalist artists for a way to make the work of art autonomous in content, that is representing nothing but itself, as in the Disc series that he began in 1966 (exh. 1968, Pasadena, CA, Norton Simon Mus. A.). Designed to exacting dimensions, colour tones, and lighting criteria, the Discs appeared suspended, free from the wall and comprising an uncertain mass that dematerialized into its environment....
(b Greenville, MI, Aug 6, 1945).
American painter and installation artist. She studied first at the Memphis Academy of Art (1965), then at the University of the Americas, Mexico City (1966–7) and finally at the St Martin’s School of Art, London (1968–9). She had her first solo exhibition in 1977 at the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York. Jaudon completed numerous permanent public art commissions and her paintings are represented in collections throughout the USA and Europe. In the 1970s Jaudon was linked most closely to the pattern and decoration movement (P&D). Her participation in this movement demonstrated her engagement with issues that were also understood as being at the core of the contemporaneous feminist art movement: disrupting the modernist definition of fine art as non-decorative, strictly formal, and, generally, produced by white men from Western cultures. In the painting Bellefontaine (1976; see 1996 exh. cat., p. 52), Jaudon fused modernism’s geometric abstraction with the interlacing curves and angles found in Islamic or Celtic ornamentation from the Middle Ages. She consciously takes care that the Western idiom of abstract painting does not overpower the non-Western decorative motifs, so that they coexist in a cross-cultural, non-hierarchical collaboration....
(b New York, Sept 8, 1940).
American environmental artist. Johanson is known for art projects created in the natural landscape that solve environmental problems. She is considered a pioneer in ecological art and has made permanent installations in gardens and parks in the United States and abroad. Johanson was born in New York City, where she was a frequent visitor to parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. She graduated from Bennington College where she studied with sculptor Tony Smith. While at Bennington (1958–62) she also met artists Kenneth Noland, David Smith, Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Kline and Philip Guston. In 1964 Johanson completed a master’s degree in art history at Hunter College.
A publishing project offered her the opportunity to catalogue the art of Georgia O’Keeffe, who became her mentor. Johanson’s paintings from the 1960s were Minimalist, as she explored the optical effects of colors. In 1966 she began producing large-scale sculpture, also Minimalist in style. ...
(b Fairfield, WA, Oct 23, 1927; d Hope, ID, June 10, 1994).
American sculptor. He attended Eastern Washington College of Education in Cheney, WA, and then Whitworth College in Spokane, WA, both for short periods, but received no formal art training. He then studied briefly at a number of other colleges in the West and in 1953 moved to Los Angeles, where two years later he had his first one-man show at the Cafe Galleria. In 1956 he opened the Now Gallery in Los Angeles, one of the city’s first avant-garde galleries; on its closure in 1957 he opened the Ferus Gallery with the critic Walter Hopps.
Having produced his first paintings and watercolours while still in high school, in 1954 Kienholz made his first wooden relief paintings. These consisted of odd pieces of wood nailed to a panel and then painted with a broom, for example Triptych (1956; Mr and Mrs R. Regehr priv. col., see 1966 exh. cat., p. 17). They were often painted in a murky brown to exaggerate their ugliness, through which Kienholz sought to investigate concepts of beauty. From the late 1950s he devoted himself to sculpture in the form of assemblage, often using the medium to voice social or political criticism. In ...
International art form that developed particularly from the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was part of a revolt against painting and sculpture and the anti-formalist current of the late 1960s that included Conceptual art and Arte Povera. A number of mainly British and North American artists turned their attention to working directly with nature, notably Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Smithson, and Richard Long. They created immense sculptures on the same scale as landscape itself, or exhibited written and photographic accounts of their excursions. With few exceptions, their works (also known as Earthworks) are almost inaccessible, situated far from human settlements in deserts or abandoned areas. Their lifespan was brief: little by little they were destroyed by the elements and often by erosion, so that for posterity they exist only in the form of preparatory drawings, photographs, or films. The works themselves were seen by only a small number of people and sometimes by only the artist....
(b Ha Tien, Nov 16, 1968).
Vietnamese conceptual artist. Lê was born near the Cambodian border, but fled with his family when his hometown was invaded by the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Lê moved to Los Angeles and studied photography at the University of California, Santa Barbara and received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York in 1992. In 1989, while at the University of California, Lê enrolled in a class on the Vietnam War (1955–75) that emphasized American hardship. This sparked Lê’s earliest public art project, Accountability, a series of posters that Lê put up on his college campus (reproduced in 1992 for Creative Time, New York, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles). These posters juxtaposed American media images of the Vietnam War with explicit pictures of Vietnamese suffering, accompanied by captions detailing the damage done to Vietnam. The desire to intervene in dominant perceptions of the Vietnam War propelled Lê for much of his artistic career....
(b Guangzhou, China, Sept 15, 1948).
Chinese multimedia artist. Raised in Hong Kong and Macau, Lee immigrated to the United States in 1973 to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio (BFA 1977), followed by graduate studies at Syracuse University (1977–9). Moving to New York City in 1979, he became actively involved with the burgeoning downtown Manhattan arts community, where he created Graffiti and poster art, as well as outdoor slide theater works. Beginning in the 1980s, Lee co-founded three New York-based arts collectives: Epoxy Art Group (1981–7), Godzilla: Asian American Art Network (1990–2001) and Tomato Grey (2009). The first, Epoxy Art Group, involved project-oriented collaborations with artists from mainland China, Canada and Hong Kong that reflected their intersecting standpoints as Chinese living in the West. Godzilla: Asian American Art Network was a pan-Asian, intergenerational art group. Most recently, with Tomato Grey, Lee became involved with a new cohort of contemporary immigrant artists who endeavor to foster cultural exchange between arts practitioners in Hong Kong and New York City. Lee was a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts in New York (...