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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

Catherine M. Grant

(b London, Nov 8, 1965).

English conceptual artist, photographer and film maker. He studied History of Art at Manchester University (1985–8) and Fine Art at Goldsmiths’ College, London (MFA, 1992–4). In 1990 he began a series of works by placing advertisements in the London magazine Loot and various newspapers, inviting people who thought they looked like God to send in their picture; this evolved into The God Look-Alike Contest (1992–3; London, Saatchi Gal.), exhibited in the Sensation exhibition (London, RA, 1997) and consisting of the original advertisement and the responses he received. For Involva (1995; see 1999 exh. cat., pp. 19–21), he advertised in a sex contacts magazine, illustrating a drawing of a woodland clearing with the caption ‘Please will you join me here?’. He then photographed the letters he had in reply in a clearing similar to the one shown in his announcement. The process of asking a question that at first appears naive or absurd is a key strategy in Chodzko’s work, the final form of which is the product of other people’s imaginations. In the late 1990s he began to target specific groups for his projects, as in ...

Article

Francis Summers

American photographers and conceptual artists of Irish and Israeli birth. Collaborating under a corporate-sounding name, Michael Clegg (b Dublin, 1957) and Martin Guttman (b Jerusalem, 1957) began making photographs together in 1980. Using corporate group portraits as their resource material, they made constructed photographs in the manner of 17th-century Dutch paintings. A Group Portrait of the Executives of a World Wide Company (1980; see 1989 exh. cat., p. 33) shows five suited men seated in a brooding darkness, their heads and hands illuminated in a chiaroscuro effect. The reference to historical paintings is made particularly explicit in The Art Consultants (1986; see 1989 exh. cat., p. 37): the figures are posed directly in front of a canvas so as to mirror the painted figures, illustrating Clegg & Guttman’s proposition that within the hierarchies of power, the essential nature of pose, emblems and dress have remained relatively unchanged for centuries. Pushing these images to the point of indetermination, Clegg & Guttman also occasionally carried out actual commissions (although not always successfully), as well as creating collaged and altered portraits such as ...

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

(b Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon, July 6, 1941).

Irish conceptual artist. He studied from 1960 to 1961 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, then at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, and from 1963 to 1966 at the National College of Art, Dublin. A scholarship to Italy allowed him to complete his studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan from 1966 to 1971, subsequently making this city his main home and holding his first exhibition there in 1968. From the early 1970s Coleman made installations using audio tapes, slides and projected film to investigate social and political themes. His Slide Piece (1973, exh. Paris Biennale, 1973, and London, Tate, 1982) presents a series of identical colour images of a street, with a recorded commentary describing visible features from different subjective viewpoints, so that a dialogue is set up between the sameness of each total image and the different details to which our attention is drawn. Another installation, ...

Article

David Craven

[idea art; information art]

Term applied to work produced from the mid-1960s that either markedly de-emphasized or entirely eliminated a perceptual encounter with unique objects in favour of an engagement with ideas. Although Henry Flynt of the Fluxus group had designated his performance pieces ‘concept art’ as early as 1961 and Edward Kienholz had begun to devise ‘concept tableaux’ in 1963, the term first achieved public prominence in defining a distinct art form in an article published by Sol LeWitt in 1967. Only loosely definable as a movement, it emerged more or less simultaneously in North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia and had repercussions on more conventional spheres of artistic production spawning artists’ books as a separate category and contributing substantially to the acceptance of photographs, musical scores, architectural drawings, and performance art on an equal footing with painting and sculpture. Moreover, conceptual art helped spawn the move towards multimedia installations that emerged to such prominence from the 1980s....

Article

Constance W. Glenn

(b Worcester, MA, Oct 7, 1943).

American photographer and conceptual artist. He studied painting at the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston (1961–5), and the University of Illinois, Urbana (1965–7). He first won recognition for his 8×10 view camera photographs, for example Chair Trick (1973; see Alinder, pl. 12). In such works as these, where he constructed the objects and their settings and then photographed them, Cumming explored perception, illusion, logic, time and motion. In the 1980s he began using drawing, printmaking and colour photography, for example X-ray Crystallography Mounts (DNA Molecule Research) MIT (photograph, 1986; Cambridge, MA, MIT; see 1988 exh. cat., pl. 24), with the same attention to pragmatic detail and often magical humour. His interest in narrative fantasies first provided storylines for photo-sequences and later led him to write, illustrate, and publish five books including Discourse on Domestic Disorder (Orange, CA, 1975).

J. Alinder: Cumming Photographs: Untitled 18...

Article

Nancy Ring

(b Munich, April 29, 1941; d Hamburg, March 9, 2009)

German conceptual artist. She moved to New York in 1965, after studying at the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst in Hamburg, and began to produce delicate point and line drawings that gave form to sets of mathematical calculations. Although she lived in almost total solitude, her work became part of a collective effort to replace the discrete art object with Conceptual art, grounded in ideas and actions. In the late 1960s she began to use the divisions of the calendar as the conceptual basis of her art. One Month, One Year, One Century (1971; Aachen, Neue Gal.) consists of 402 books, each containing series of numbers extrapolated from a single date and grouped with other volumes to represent months, years, and finally a whole century. Her books and mounted images, painstakingly handwritten, embody not only an abstract span of time but also the actual time of the artist’s labour.

In the 1970s Darboven often allied her work, which she considered a form of writing, to the accomplishments of writers such as Heinrich Heine and Jean-Paul Sartre, directly transcribing portions of their texts or translating them into patterns. She further expanded her scope by including musical arrangements and photographs in her displays. In the ...

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Ancona, 1947).

Italian conceptual and performance artist. At 17 he mounted his own exhibition (1964; Ancona, Gal. D.D.), before moving to Rome where he was influenced by Arte Povera. His one-man show (1969; Rome, Gal. Attico), for which he published an obituary announcing his death, included traces of ‘invisible objects’: a square outlined on the floor constituted Invisible Pyramid. Such dematerialization was associated with mortality, with which de Domenicis was primarily concerned, investigated through autobiography and self-portraiture, as well as through juxtapositions of Urvasi, the Hindu goddess of beauty, and the partially divine Ghilgamesh, who sought immortality in vain. Invisibility became a paradoxical and primary conceptual means: D’io (‘of me’/‘God’, 1971) filled the Galleria L’Attico with a recording of laughter. Having included live animals in his Zodiac exhibition (1970; Rome, Gal. Attico), de Domenicis increasingly used people to embody such concepts as ageing (e.g. the opposition of a young and an old man at Incontri Internazionale d’Arte, Rome, ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b London, March 30, 1966).

English conceptual artist. He completed a BA in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London (1985–8), and an MA in Art History at Sussex University (1991–2). His eclectic work engages on a broad level with popular and traditional culture; his forays into folk art are deliberately low-brow, anti-urban and characterized by an entertaining lightness of touch. He often works collaboratively; for the 1996 work Acid Brass, presented live and on CD, he instigated the incongruous transcription of a number of acid house anthems for a traditional brass band: these performed first at the Liverpool School of Art, and later at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, and at the gala opening night ceremony at Tate Modern, London. The strange juxtaposition of traditional brass band and contemporary dance music forced a revealing relationship between the old and the new and suggested the possibility not just of a collision but of an interaction between the cultures represented by these distinct musical forms. This approach was continued in the exhibition ...

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. ...

Article

[Gerardus Johannes Maria]

(b Weert, May 9, 1941).

Dutch photographer and conceptual artist. From 1959 to 1963 he trained as an art teacher at the Akademie Bouwkunst in Tilburg, while at the same time taking painting lessons with Jan Gregoor in Eindhoven from 1961 to 1963. He had his first one-man show in 1965 at Galerie 845 in Amsterdam. He then taught in Enschede until 1967 when he studied at the St Martin’s School of Art in London on a British Council scholarship. Until then he had produced monochrome, Minimalist paintings and was influenced by Mondrian, Vermeer and Pieter Saenredam, but after the period in London he worked primarily with photography. He began with a series called Perspective Corrections (1967–9), characterized by optical effects. In Perspective Correction—My Studio II, I: Square on Floor (1969; Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus.), for example, he placed a white trapezium on the floor of his studio. He then photographed it from an angle that made it appear square and consequently detached from its surroundings....

Article

Mary M. Tinti

Architecture, design and conceptual art partnership. Diller Scofidio + Renfro [Diller + Scofidio] was formed in 1979 by Elizabeth Diller (b Lodz, Poland, 1954) and Ricardo Scofidio (b New York, NY, 1935) as an interdisciplinary design practice based in New York.

Diller studied at the Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York (BArch, 1979) and then worked as an Assistant Professor of Architecture (1981–90) at the Cooper Union School of Architecture, becoming Associate Professor of Architecture at Princeton University in 1990. Scofidio, who also attended Cooper Union (1952–5), obtained his BArch from Columbia University (1960) and became Professor of Architecture at Cooper Union in 1965. In 1997 Charles Renfro joined the firm and was made partner in 2004, at which point the partnership changed its name to Diller Scofidio + Renfro. While the couple (who are married) initially eschewed traditional architectural projects in favor of installations, set design and landscape design, by the 21st century their firm had received commissions for both new buildings and renovations of existing architecture. Diller and Scofidio were the first architects to receive a MacArthur Foundation fellowship (...

Article

Jure Mikuž

(b Sarajevo, June 18, 1948).

Bosnian artist. He graduated from the Zagreb Academy in 1971, continuing at St Martin’s School of Art, London. He lived in London and Paris. His work was conceptual, and until the mid-1970s he focused on the problem of non-information in contemporary civilization. The starting-point of his exhibitions and projects was the confrontation of public figures with anonymous people. In executing large busts or monuments to unknown persons in busy urban centres, parks and exhibition halls, the artist wished to draw attention to the importance of the context in creating public opinion.

Indicative of the underlying concept of the works Dimitrijević produced after the mid-1970s was a statement he made in 1973: ‘Just as a piano is not music, a painting is not art’. A series entitled Triptychos post historicos dates from that period. Repeated Secret (1978–83; Liverpool, Tate) was a typical example of a painting in which he commented on well-known works of art, confronting them with the most commonplace everyday things....

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b New Haven, CT, 1949).

American painter. He completed a BA at Trinity College, Hartford, CT, in 1971 and later settled in New York. Initially influenced by Post-minimalism, process art and conceptual art, he was soon attracted to the tactility and allusions to the body in the work of Brice Marden, Robert Mangold and Robert Ryman. Spurred on by the revival of interest in Surrealism in the 1970s, Dunham began to make abstract, biomorphic paintings reminiscent of the work of Arshile Gorky and André Masson, executed with a comic twist enhanced by lurid colours and the suggestion of contemporary psychedelia. In the 1980s he began to paint on wood veneer and rose to prominence in the context of a broader return to painting in the period. Age of Rectangles (1983–5; New York, MOMA) is a highly abstract composition of differing forms, symptomatic of his work at this time: geometric sketches co-exist with eroticized organic shapes while the forms of the wood veneer show through the surface of the paint to suggest surging forces. Towards the end of the 1980s he began to move towards single, dominating motifs; wave-like forms were particularly common. In the ...

Article

(b Amsterdam, Mar 9, 1941; d Aug 17, 2014).

Dutch conceptual artist. From 1959 to 1961 he studied in Amsterdam, then at the Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles (1961–3) and at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands from 1965 to 1966. His work examined the structures that pervade both art and reality through a variety of media: photography, painting, sculpture and installations. In About the Reality of G. Morandi II (1971; Rotterdam, Boymans–van Beuningen), for example, he displayed a reproduction of a still-life by Giorgio Morandi, flanked by two photographs of objects such as matches, spectacles and ink bottles that might have been found in his studio. He thus emphasized the process of selection and rejection of everyday objects that was involved in the still-life. The existence of dualities was featured in works such as The Symmetry of Diplomacy I (1971; Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus.), which consisted of a pair of photographs, each showing a pair of chairs. In one of the photographs, based on clichéd images of diplomatic meetings, the left-hand chair is occupied by a man talking to the adjacent empty chair, the positions being reversed in the other photograph. Examining the media of art, in ...

Article

Annamaria Szőke

(b Budapest, July 4, 1928; d Budapest, May 22, 1986).

Hungarian architect, sculptor, conceptual and performance artist, teacher, theorist and film maker. He came from a Jewish–Christian family, many of whom were killed during World War II. In 1947 he began training as a sculptor at the College of Fine Arts in Budapest, but he left and continued his studies in the studio of Dezső Birman Bokros (1889–1965), before training as an architect from 1947 to 1951 at the Technical University in Budapest. During the 1950s and early 1960s he worked as an architect and began experimenting with painting and graphic art, as well as writing poems and short stories. During this period he became acquainted with such artists as Dezső Korniss, László Latner and, most importantly, Béla Kondor and Sándor Altorjai (1933–79), with whom he began a lifelong friendship. In 1959 and 1963 he also enrolled at the Budapest College of Theatre and Film Arts but was advised to leave both times....

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Turin, Nov 20, 1936; d Milan, June 23, 2007).

Italian sculptor, conceptual artist and writer. He frequented artistic circles in Udine in the mid-1950s. In 1958 Fabro saw Lucio Fontana’s contribution to the Venice Biennale and the following year moved to Milan, where he discovered the work of Yves Klein and Francesco Lo Savio and was closely associated with Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani. Their investigations of matter and space influenced Fabro’s idea of the artist as a facilitator of experiences without preconceived categories. After tentative early works, he embarked upon austere pieces that encapsulated phenomenological problems, such as The Hole (1963; artist’s col.), a mirror with the reflective coating partially scraped away. While the scraping mimicked the techniques of Art informel, the fusion of reflection and the recession, seen through the suspended glass, was indebted to Duchamp. His first one-man show (1965; Milan, Gal. Vismara) combined mirror pieces with the Spatial Lines, which demarcated their environment with tubular metal (e.g. ...

Article

Zachary Baker

(b Kent, Oct 4, 1966; d Scotland, March 29, 2008).

English conceptual artist, photographer, painter and installation artist. He is associated primarily with the Goldsmiths’ College group, sometimes known as the ‘Freeze Generation’, which emerged in the late 1980s during Michael Craig-Martin’s period of teaching there. In February 1988, as a second year student, Fairhurst organized a small group exhibition at the Bloomsbury Gallery of the University of London Institute of Education; it included, alongside his own work, art by fellow students Mat Collishaw, Abigail Lane and Damien Hirst. This was a kind of precursory event for the more dynamic and famous Freeze exhibition of summer 1988, curated by Hirst, in which he also participated. In the early 1990s he was involved in many seminal events and exhibitions such as A Fête worse than Death (1993), on Charlotte Road and Rivington Street, London, curated by Joshua Compston (1971–96) and Factual Nonsense, and Some Went Mad, Some Ran Away...

Article

Amy Rosenblum Martín

(b Miami, FL, May 12, 1968).

Cuban American conceptual artist. Known for her immersive installations and grand public art projects that represent natural phenomena, Fernández explored the potential of artifice to create authentic perceptual and psychological effects, and to reveal the degree to which reality is constructed. From 1997 she resided in Brooklyn, New York, and visited Japan for work almost yearly. She earned her BFA at Florida International University, Miami (1990) and her MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (1992). She received a MacArthur Foundation“Genius Grant” (2005) and was the first Latina to serve on the US Commission of Fine Arts (2011–2014).

In her installations and public sculptures Fernández made sublime, abstracted waterfalls, wisteria, fire, stars, pools, ocean, beach, sand dunes, sunset, aurora borealis, bamboo, gardens, snow, clouds, fog, and dew. Her clearly artificial “nature” uncannily feels more real than reality. The experience of viewing her work shifts from seeing paint fade up a wall to being overtaken by the feeling of standing on a misty ...