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Article

Susan Best

(b Sydney, Aug 8, 1919; d Sydney, April 19, 2005).

Australian sculptor, video, installation artist, and sound artist. Brassil received her initial art training at Sydney Teachers College, East Sydney Technical College, and Newcastle Technical College (1937–9). She taught art for 20 years at Campbelltown High School before commencing her exhibiting career in the early 1970s.

Brassil’s first recorded work is Trilogy: Twentieth Century Perception (1969–74; Sydney, U. W. Sydney). Trilogy is composed of three components: Sound Beyond Hearing (900×900×150 mm), Light Beyond Seeing (900×600×150 mm) and Memory Beyond Recall (1050×1050×150 mm). Unlike Brassil’s later works, these three components can be wall mounted. They are beautiful, highly finished, shallow black boxes, and two out of the three are electronic. Memory Beyond Recall has glowing lights veiled behind layers of paper that appear and then dim down and disappear. Light Beyond Seeing has a central lit portion that uses mirrors to suggest an infinitely deep space. The main themes of Brassil’s career—perception, sound, memory, and the transcendental realm—are all signalled in this early work....

Article

Michael Compton

(b Brussels, Jan 28, 1924; d Cologne, Jan 28, 1976).

Belgian painter, sculptor, printmaker, draughtsman, film maker and poet. He lived in poverty for 20 years as a bohemian poet in Brussels; with no artistic training he turned to visual art in 1964 as an ironic gesture, with an exhibition at the Galerie St Laurent in Brussels. He launched himself caustically into the art market with a brief text printed on the invitation: ‘I too wondered if I could not sell something and succeed in life … Finally the idea of inventing something insincere finally crossed my mind and I set to work straightaway’ (quoted in 1980 exh. cat., p. 13). In the 11 years that remained to him he established himself, in more than 70 one-man exhibitions, as an artist of considerable influence in terms not of style or sensibility but of attitude and approach.

Broodthaers regarded his art as a defence of European high cultural traditions in the face of barbarian threats and especially of western commercialism. His strategy allowed him to appropriate techniques and media from Nouveau Réalisme, Pop art, conceptual art and performance art so as to subvert them to his own aims; he emphasized the craftsmanship of his art but without any trace of academic technique or dexterity, as his work was often executed by others. At its most personal his work employed techniques associated with poetry but applied by him not only to words but to images and symbols, with a particular emphasis on irony, metonymy, tautology and synecdoche....

Article

Andrew Wilson

(b Ardning, Styria, Sept 27, 1938).

Austrian performance artist, draughtsman, painter and film maker. He studied commercial graphic art at the Akademie für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna between 1957 and 1960. Following visits to Spain and the Venice Biennale of 1960, he started to paint gestural abstractions and came into contact with the Austrian painter Alfons Schilling (b 1934). In 1961 this development was interrupted when he was called up for military service, after which he found it difficult to return to painting, and by the end of 1962 he had started to concentrate on the act of painting rather than on the finished works themselves. He was persuaded by Otto Muehl to create, with his wife Anni, his first Aktion or performance, Ana, in November 1964, which he recorded on film in the first of a series of collaborations with the film maker Kurt Kren (b 1920). This led to his first self-painting ...

Article

Naomi Beckwith

(b Fulton, MO, Feb 4, 1959).

American sculptor and multimedia artist working in fibre, installation, video, and performance. The youngest of seven sons born into a central Missouri family, Cave demonstrated an early acumen with hand-made objects and throughout his career has created works out of texturally rich materials imbued with cultural meaning. Cave received his BFA (1982) from the Kansas City Art Institute, developing an interest in textiles and, after some graduate-level work at North Texas State University, received his MFA (1989) from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, renowned for their textile, fibre art, and design programmes. While working toward his art degrees, Cave simultaneously studied with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, a company known for introducing African American folk traditions into the modern dance vocabulary. Cave moved to Chicago where he became chair of the Department of Fashion Design at the School of the Art Institute in 1980.

Working across the disciplines of sculpture, textile, dance, and cultural performance, Cave’s oeuvre is based on the human figure; he has produced wearable art as sculptures, arrangements of human and animal figurines as installations, and performance works. Cave’s signature works, the multi-sensory ‘...

Article

(b Busan, March 4, 1951; d New York, Nov 5, 1982).

Korean artist and writer active in the USA. Cha was born and raised in Busan, Korea, moving to Hawaii with her parents in the mid-1960s, and then later to San Francisco. Trained in French from early adolescence, she studied comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley, including the works of Stéphane Mallarmé. As part of her theoretical studies, Cha also majored in visual art, first concentrating on ceramics and then moving to performance-based work under the tutelage of James Melchert (b 1930). After graduating in both disciplines in 1973 and 1975 respectively, Cha continued her studies in visual art at the University of California, Berkeley, receiving an MFA in 1978. During this time, she studied abroad in Paris at the Centre d’Etudes Américain du Cinéma in 1976, working with psychoanalytic theorists such as Christian Metz and Raymond Bellour. Works created during this time were based on symbols, the manipulation of language via experimentation with font, scale and the placement of words, as well as cinematic devices such as the fade....

Article

Derrick R. Cartwright

(b Rochester, IN, April 16, 1927; d New York, Dec 21, 2011).

American sculptor, painter, printmaker and film maker. Chamberlain studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1950 to 1952 and from 1955 to 1956 at Black Mountain College, NC, where he was exposed to the modernist aesthetics of the poets Charles Olson (1910–70) and Robert Creeley (1926–2005), with whom he formed a lasting friendship. His early welded-iron sculpture was heavily influenced by Abstract Expressionism and by the sculpture of David Smith. In 1957 he moved to New York where he made his first works out of crushed car parts, such as Shortstop (1957; New York, Dia A. Found.), a practice for which he became immediately recognized and recognizable. During the mid-1960s he continued in this mode, expanding its formal vocabulary to include larger free-standing complexes and wall reliefs, always emphasizing fit and spontaneity (e.g. Untitled, 1965). This work earned him instant critical association with the ...

Article

Aileen June Wang

(b San Leandro, CA, Feb 3, 1972).

American performance and video artist of Chinese ancestry. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. She showed her first solo exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, in 1999. Her body of work focused on how people can be deceived, either through sight—what one sees is not necessarily true—or through mainstream assumptions about such topics as Asia, sexuality, and socially accepted behavior. Chang attributed her past stint in a cybersex company as the catalyst for exploring illusion as a theme. She realized that video flattened three-dimensional, live performances into a stream of two-dimensional images, enabling her to engage in visual deception.

Most of Chang’s early works investigated problems of gender and sexuality, using her own body and elements suggesting violence or transgression. The photograph Fountain (1999) depicted her inside a cubicle of a public lavatory, with a urinal visible on the far wall. Wearing a business suit, she knelt on hands and knees, seemingly kissing herself but actually slurping water off a mirror on the floor. The accompanying video focused on Chang’s face and her passionate interaction with her own reflection. While the photograph suggested female humiliation in a male world, the video complicated matters by implying that the act was motivated by narcissism....

Article

Timothy Barker

(b Kortrijk, 1969).

Belgian photographic and video artist. With a focus on mediation and the tension between the photographic ‘still’ and cinematic ‘flow’, Claerbout, amongst other artists such as Douglas Gordon and Jeff Wall, established a body of work that grapples with the concept of time and its mediation. Academically trained as a painter, Claerbout abandoned this practice soon after graduating from the Nationaal Hoger Instituut voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp. Instead he began to focus on the found photographs that had previously served as source material for his painted works (Vitali, 2008). In works such as Kindergarten Antonio Sant’Elia, 1932 (1998) Claerbout took an old photograph of a kindergarten in Italy and subtly added the movement of leaves blowing in the winds. In other works such as Arena (2007) and Section of a Happy Moment (2007) he radically extended the duration of an instant to break the surface of photographic temporality. In these works the archive of moments, such as the instant before a point is scored in a basketball game, or significant but seemingly banal moments of happiness, made still in photographs, are turned into images not of frozen sections of life but, via montage, of traces of the past that continue into the present. In his cinematic work ...

Article

(Maurice)

(b Maisons-Laffitte, July 5, 1889; d Milly-la-Forêt, Oct 11, 1963).

French writer, film maker, draughtsman, painter, printmaker and stage designer. Self-taught and with an insatiable desire to experiment with a wide variety of media, Cocteau combined his activities as a writer and artist with the roles of catalyst, patron, socialite and man of the theatre. His production as a painter, draughtsman and printmaker is mostly regarded as tangential both to the development of French art from the 1920s to the 1950s and to his own creative activities. In general his art has been regarded as an elegant but slight and fundamentally decorative variation of elements from the work of Picasso, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship in 1915. The cult of personality surrounding him, which he did little to discourage, has continued to cloud assessment of his work as a serious artist. Nevertheless the correlations that he created among different media, through his poetry, highly imaginative films and influential work for the theatre, were essential in defining the experimental ambience and cross-fertilizations of art in Paris between the two World Wars....

Article

Francis Summers

(b McPherson, KS, Nov 18, 1933; d San Francisco, July 7, 2008).

American sculptor, collagist, draughtsman and film maker. Conner attended the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, finishing his studies in 1955. Soon after he moved to San Francisco, where he immersed himself in its prevalent Beat culture. His early work was principally a form of Collage or Assemblage, as in Spider House Lady (1959; Oakland, CA, Mus.) in which he gathered together decayed print and other fetid matter, wrapped in string nylon, an effect that gave his work a mummified, funereal pallor. Conner also made films reflecting his practice of recycling images from America’s media culture. Using film stock from movies intended to be projected at home, Conner created a collage of various Hollywood stereotypes in A Movie (1958; see 1999 exh. cat., p. 189), a work that established him as an important underground film-maker. Conner also made strange, disquieting sculpture that paid homage to (Henri-Robert-)Marcel Duchamp, such as The Bride...

Article

Philip Cooper

(b Nyack, NY, Dec 24, 1903; d Flushing, NY, Dec 29, 1972)

American sculptor, film maker and writer. Cornell studied from 1917 to 1921 at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. After leaving the Academy he took a job as a textile salesman for the William Whitman Company in New York, which he retained until 1931. During this time his interest in the arts developed greatly. Through art reviews and exhibitions he became acquainted with late 19th-century and contemporary art; he particularly admired the work of Odilon Redon. He also saw the exhibitions of American art organized by Alfred Stieglitz and became interested in Japanese art, especially that of Andō Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai. Following a ‘healing experience’ in 1925 he became a convert to Christian Science.

In 1931 Cornell lost his job as a salesman. In November 1931 he discovered Julien Levy’s newly opened gallery in New York and showed Levy some of his collages. Employing curious juxtapositions, these were composed from cut-out fragments of engravings as in ...

Article

Catherine M. Grant

(b Cardiff, Jan 25, 1964).

Welsh installation artist and film maker. She studied for her BFA at South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education between 1983 and 1986, and then for her MFA at the Slade School of Art in London between 1986 and 1988. It was at her post-graduate exhibition that her work gained notice with an installation that had water seeping and dripping through the air vents of lockers in a corridor of the Slade. This use of water was translated on a smaller scale in the piece 12 Filing Cabinets, 12 Rolled Carpets and Water (1990; see 1998 exh. cat., p. 19). Here soaking rolls of carpet were revealed in the bottom drawers of the filing cabinets. Counsell’s interventions in the space and with the objects seem to be at first rather slight, but gain in impact as the strangeness of the presence of the water is felt. In 1993, at the Coronet Cinema in Mile End in London, Counsell installed a black-and-white film (see ...

Article

Gregory Sholette

American artists’ collective founded in 1987, still active. Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) is known for its carefully researched installations, performances, videos and publications that explore the intersections of multiple disciplines including art and science, while simultaneously engaging in a sophisticated political critique of state and corporate power. As a form of ethical cultural practice the collective’s approach is grounded in the belief that the common person or amateur should be the true nexus of knowledge in a plural, democratic society. The artistic approach of CAE takes advantage of the shift away from object making established by the Conceptual artists of the 1960s and 1970s. The group’s aesthetic vocabulary has been influenced by the interventionist approach of such collectives as the Situationists (see Situationism), the Yippies, Guerrilla Art Action Group, Royal Chicano Art Front and Gran Fury. Like these groups, CAE’s aim is to imaginatively disrupt everyday life. In addition the Ensemble has published six books with the Brooklyn-based Autonomedia Press that document the group’s critical investigations; the books have been translated into some eighteen languages....

Article

Francis Summers

(b Reading, Oct 15, 1970).

English video artist. Leaving school at the age of 16 to work in cinema, Cunningham’s skill in creating special effects and models earned him a place on the set of Alien 3 and other movies. He also worked on British film director Stanley Kubrick’s aborted AI project, and for a time he illustrated the cult science-fiction comic 2000 AD. Cunningham claims to be most influenced by such musicians as the German electronic goup Kraftwerk rather than by the cinema, and it has been his work on pop videos that have earnt him his greatest notoriety. His first video was for the band Autechre, and he subsequently made videos for Portishead, Squarepusher, Björk and Madonna. He also produced television advertisements, notoriously for Sony Playstation, where a computer-manipulated alien/girl recommends the benefits of the ‘mental wealth’ afforded by the computer games. His best work has been for the music of Richard James (known under his pseudonym, Aphex Twin): the two videos he produced for him, ...

Article

Fiona Bradley

(Felip Jacint )

(b Figueres, May 11, 1904; d Figueres, Jan 23, 1989).

Spanish Catalan painter, draughtsman, illustrator, sculptor, writer and film maker. One of the most prolific artists of the 20th century, his fantastic imagery and flamboyant personality also made him one of the best known. His most significant artistic contribution, however, was through his association with Surrealism.

Dalí was born into the happy, if ideologically confusing, family of a respected notary. His father was a Republican and atheist, his mother a Roman Catholic. He was named Salvador in memory of a recently dead brother. This had a profound effect: his subsequent experimentation with identity and with the projection of his own persona may have developed out of an early understanding of himself as ‘a reply, a double, an absence’ (Dalí, 1970, p. 92). His childhood provided him with the fertile memories, both true and false, that fill his autobiography and resound in his art. Catalonia remained important to Dalí, but for its landscape rather than its separatist politics. He painted for much of his life in a house he bought in Port Lligat, near the family holiday home in Cadaqués, but the radical political beliefs that his father had taught him were to be replaced by a self-conscious monarchism and Catholicism. Dalí’s first contact with painting was through Ramon Pichot (...

Article

Maria Elena Buszek

(b Toronto, 1958).

Canadian photographer, video artist, and writer, active in USA. Davey variously studied design, drawing, and painting at Montreal’s Concordia University, finally settling on photography, in which she received a BFA in 1982. She later earned an MFA at the University of California San Diego, and began post-graduate studies at the Whitney Independent Study Program in 1988. Frustrated by the tendencies of such contemporaries as Andreas Gursky and Gregory Crewdson to, as she put it, ‘overproduce, overenlarge, overconsume’, Davey sought rather to draw on ‘the inherently surrealist, contingent, “found” quality of the vernacular photograph’(Davey 2014).

Davey’s photographs and videos consist predominantly of quiet vignettes from everyday life: homes filled with dusty, over-stuffed shelves, crammed with books, albums, bottles, and art supplies, and tables with momentary arrangements of these objects in use; lovingly rendered still-lifes of the near extinct, ad-hoc displays of button vendors, newsstands, and hi-fi equipment; always suggesting but rarely depicting the acquisitive, inquisitive people living and working in these humble, very much lived-in spaces. Her breakthrough ...

Article

Lauren O’Neill-Butler

(b Boston, MA, 1966).

American photographer and installation artist. Deschenes studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI, where she was awarded a BFA in photography in 1988. Beginning in the 1990s, she exhibited widely across various continents. With a focus on materiality and site-specificity, her work examines light, perception, architecture, and photography. Yet often she worked without a camera, adopting a post-conceptual and post-minimal stance that walks a fine line between abstraction and representation. Instead of making straightforward photographs that depict a given past event or a vision of the world, Deschenes posed real-time questions about the philosophical potentials of the medium, stripping its apparatus bare while pushing at its traditional definitions and emphasizing the constantly changing nature of photography. For her Green Screen series (2001), Deschenes took a green screen—typically used as a special effects tool in film-making and television—as her subject, photographing and scanning these large-scale monochrome backdrops. In her ...

Article

Marta Zarzycka

(b Sittard, the Netherlands, June 2, 1959).

Dutch photographer and video artist. She studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam between 1981 and 1986. Dijkstra has produced a complex body of photographic and video work, offering a contemporary take on the genre of portraiture. Her large-scale colour photographs of young, typically adolescent and awkward subjects recall 17th-century Dutch painting in their scale and attention to detail. They present her subjects as painfully aware of their own changing bodies.

Dijkstra’s works are produced in series, creating groups of photographs and videos around a specific group of subjects or places. For the Beaches series (1992–2002), she portrayed adolescents posed on beaches from Hilton Head, SC, to Poland and the Ukraine; see, for example, Kolobrzeg, Poland, July 26, 1992 (London, Saatchi Gal.) where an uncomfortably posing girl unintentionally echoes the grace of Botticelli’s Venus. In a later series titled Park Portraits (2005–6), schoolchildren and adolescents appear in activity and repose, photographed in city parks in Europe, China, and the United States. Dijkstra is also known for the single-subject portraits in serial transition, such as ...

Article

Christopher Finch

(b Chicago, IL, Dec 5, 1901; d Burbank, CA, Dec 15, 1966).

American film maker, animator, and entrepreneur. Much of his childhood was spent in rural Missouri, but during his adolescence the family moved to Kansas City, where he formed an interest in drawing and in Vaudeville theatre. He received little formal training, but by the age of 18 he was earning his living as a cartoonist, first in print and then in the fledgling field of animation. While still in Kansas City, Disney began, with his most important early associate Ubbe (‘Ub’) Iwerks (1901–71), to produce animated shorts including Alice’s Wonderland (1923), in which a young girl, filmed in live action, cavorted with cartoon characters. In 1923 Disney moved to Los Angeles, where Iwerks and other members of the Kansas City team joined him. They continued to produce similar comedies until 1927, when these were superseded by a fully animated series starring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. By this time Disney himself had given up animation to concentrate on a supervisory role, but his ability to provide cartoon stories with dramatic structures and his flair for squeezing humour from visual jokes helped make Oswald a success. Disney lost the rights to the character to an unscrupulous distributor, however, precipitating the crisis that led to his greatest triumph. Urgently needing a new character, Disney created a mouse named Mickey (reputedly the name was chosen by Disney’s wife after many others, such as Mortimer, had been considered). The prototype Mickey, based on circles for ease of animation, was drawn by ...

Article

Milan Ivelić

(b Santiago, 1943).

Chilean painter, printmaker, draughtsman and video artist. He studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes of the Universidad de Chile in Santiago (1961–5), at the Escuela de Fotomecánica in Madrid (1966), the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst in West Berlin (1967–9) and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Dittborn, together with other theorists and artists working in Chile in the 1970s, based his work on critical examination of the marginal position of Chilean art in relation to international developments, adopting to this end practices at odds with Chilean traditions. Rejecting conventional forms of painting as well as the usual methods of producing and presenting prints, he instead favoured photography as a source both of imagery and technique by means of screenprinting. He found his imagery ready-made in the portraits featured in old Chilean criminology magazines; he combined mechanical techniques such as offset lithography and screenprinting with traditional handcrafting methods of embroidery and drawn-threadwork; and in the mid-1980s he even went so far as to produce works on brown wrapping paper, which he folded and then distributed through the ordinary post, calling them his own variant of correspondence art. Dittborn used such contrasts within his work to reflect disparate realities, mirroring the social interaction of different levels in society and underlining the racially mixed origins of Latin American practices by exaggerating the clash between domestic crafts and advanced modern technology....