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V. V. Vanslov

( Vladimirovich )

(b Moscow, April 30, 1902; d Moscow, Dec 1, 1947).

Russian stage designer and painter. He studied in the studio of Vasily Nikitich Meshkov (1868–1946) during the 1910s and at Vkhutemas in Moscow under Pyotr Konchalovsky and Konstantin Korovin from 1918 to 1923. He was one of the leading members of the Society of Easel Painters from 1925 to 1929. He originally worked as a painter and illustrated children’s books; from 1929 he worked as a stage designer. As a painter he was noted for his portraits (e.g. of the director Konstantin Stanislavsky, 1933; St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.) and other works painted in a bold, energetic style with expressionistic overtones (e.g. Woman at a Window, 1930s; St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.)

Vil’yams’s stage designs included Mikhail Bulgakov’s Molière (1936) for MKhAT (the Moscow Art Theatre), Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata (1934; Moscow, Bakhrushin Cent. Theat. Mus.) for the Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre, Moscow, and Nikolay Gogol’s Government Inspector...

Article

V. V. Vanslov

( Bagratovich )

(b Tiflis [now Tbilisi], Jan 13, 1909; d 1989).

Georgian stage designer. He studied at the Tbilisi Academy of Arts under Iosif Sharleman’ (1880–1957), at the Higher Artistic and Technical Institute (Vkhutein, formerly Vkhutemas) under Isaak Rabinovich (1894–1961) and Nisson Shifrin (1892–1961) and at the Leningrad (now St Petersburg) Academy of Arts under Mikhail Bobyshov (1885–1964). He started working in the theatre in 1927, and from 1932 to 1936 he was the principal designer of the Paliashvili Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Tbilisi, for which he also designed productions in later years. His best works at this theatre were his stagings of the ballets Serdtse gor (‘Heart of the hills’; 1936) with music by Andrey Balanchivadze and Othello (1957) with music by Aleksey Machavariani. From 1937 Virsaladze worked for the Kirov Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Leningrad; from 1940 to 1941 and from 1945 to 1962...

Article

Marita Sturken

Culture of images and visuality that creates meaning in our world today. This includes media forms such as photography, film, television, and digital media; art media such as painting, drawing, prints, and installations; architecture and design; comic books and graphic novels; fashion design, and other visual forms including the look of urban life itself. It also encompasses such social realms as art, news, popular culture, advertising and consumerism, politics, law, religion, and science and medicine. The term visual culture also refers to the interdisciplinary academic field of study that aims to study and understand the role that images and visuality play in our society; how images, gazes, and looks make meaning socially, culturally, and politically; how images are integrated with other media; and how visuality shapes power, meaning, and identity in contemporary global culture.

The emergence of the concept of visual culture as a means to think about the role of images in culture and as an academic field of study is a relatively recent phenomenon, emerging in the late 1980s and becoming established by the late 1990s. There were numerous factors that contributed to the idea that images should be understood and analysed across social arenas rather than as separate categories, including the impact of digital media on the circulation of images across social realms, the modern use of images from other social arenas (such as news and advertising) in art, and the cross-referencing of cultural forms displayed in popular culture and art. It was also influenced by the increasingly visible role played by images in political conflict and a general trend toward interdisciplinarity in academia....

Article

Grischka Petri

(b Leverkusen, nr Cologne, Oct 14, 1932; d Berlin, April 3, 1998).

German painter, sculptor, décollagist, composer, video artist, and performance artist. He was one of the fathers of the European Happening movement. Vostell studied typography, lithography, and painting in Cologne, Wuppertal, Paris, and Düsseldorf (1950–58). In 1959 he married Mercedes Guardado Olivenza in Cáceres, Spain. Early in his career he discovered Décollage , a technique of cutting, tearing away or otherwise removing pieces of an image. His spelling of the term, dé-coll/age, underlined the term’s dialectical implications of destruction and creation. In the 1960s he worked with chemicals to transfer the process to photography, video, and film, turning it into an all-encompassing strategy of image deconstruction, often within the iconographic framework of violence and sexuality as communicated by mass media.

Vostell’s combined décollage with car parts and television sets, being one of the first artists using such a device as part of a sculpture in 1958. In 1962 he joined the ...

Article

Simon Banks

(b Leipzig, May 22, 1813; d Venice, Feb 13, 1883).

German composer and writer. Though his writings are not primarily concerned with the visual arts, they contain interesting general aesthetic theories. In his crucial essay Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (1849) Wagner made the first use of the term Gesamtkunstwerk . In this work he called for a unification of all the arts in a manner that had not been experienced since the days of ancient Greece, and his main preoccupation was with the interrelationship of words and music. For Wagner art was a natural, necessary product of uncorrupted man and as much a product of the unconscious as the conscious mind. He divided art into two broad categories: the human arts, which derive directly from man, and, on the other hand, those arts that are created by man from the materials of nature. With regard to the former, which are generated by bodily motion and rhythm, he spoke of the ‘three purely human arts’ of music, poetry and dance. The latter category contains the arts of architecture, sculpture and painting, to all of which he ascribed a merely secondary role. Their proper task is to be found in support of drama. Thus architecture was to provide the necessary stage-set for the artwork of the future, sculpture should be employed in the service of architecture, and landscape painting should be used to create a natural backdrop in stage scenery. Under the influence of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, Wagner later modified his theories, and in ...

Article

(b Teufen, April 8, 1877; d Zurich, 1943).

Swiss painter, printmaker, illustrator and theatre designer. He studied with a decorative painter in Stuttgart and briefly at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Strasbourg (1902), though he was chiefly self-taught through study trips to Belgium, France, Spain, Italy and Japan, which impressed him deeply. His freely brushed, figurative style and preoccupation with such Symbolist artists as Ferdinand Hodler and Arnold Böcklin allied him with the avant-garde of his day. He was a member of the Berlin Secession, and the connections he made through the group, together with the acknowledged clarity of his stylish book illustrations, won him many commissions. In a prolific career he also produced costume and stage designs, wall frescoes and numerous prints. Later paintings showed his admiration for the flat, all-over colour planes of Cézanne. He was the brother of the writer Robert Walser (1878–1956) and illustrated a number of his books, for example Seeland...

Article

Ewa Mikina

(b Volhynia, Oct 10, 1938).

Polish performance artist and conceptual artist. He studied at the Faculty of Architecture at Kraków Technical University from 1956 to 1962 and at the Academy of Fine Arts, Kraków (1964–5). After 1969 he produced at intervals powerful linear semi-abstract paintings resembling three-dimensional projections on to a plane. His first performance, Poetic Quarter Hour with Piano and Record Player (1967; Kraków), based on an improvised poetic recitation, was transformed into verbal-jazz improvisations featuring Tomasz Stańko (1967–8). In the early 1970s Warpechowski produced a number of conceptual works bordering on performance art (e.g. a clock encased in a block of plaster of Paris, a blank tape-measure, a bookbinding press with an empty plate, darkness enclosed in the palms of hands). The performances of the 1970s, such as Liberation of Pure Usefulness (1974), were inspired by Daoist philosophy and dealt with ideas, reality and nothingness, whereas his understanding of the creative process stemmed from the European Romantic tradition. After ...

Article

Julia Robinson

(b Burlington, IA, 1923; d Martins Creek, PA, Sept 21, 1988).

American multimedia and performance artist. Watts was a pioneering figure in the development of Fluxus and Pop art . Before settling squarely into Fluxus, Watts was associated first with both because of his use of ready-made objects, his concern with space-time activation of the work and for the insertion of objects into performance frameworks. Watts was a pioneering figure in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s experimentation with new media (e.g., industrial plastics, aluminum foil) and emergent technologies as well as new distribution mechanisms. He trained as a mechanical engineer before turning full-time to art, studying in New York at the Art Students League, and at Columbia University, and receiving his MA in Art History (1951). Watts taught at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, from 1952 to 1984, where he had a significant influence on a generation of students who would produce some of the leading intermedia art of the 1960s and 1970s. His own art began at the cutting edge of new media experimentation—with works of the 1950s incorporating electric light, incandescent wire, random circuitry—and intelligently extending the critique established by the Duchampian readymade. In the early 1960s he made original contributions to the emergent vocabulary of everyday objects that would define advanced art of the 1960s. In particular, his deployment of photography—with actual objects to fracture the “real” (e.g., photographs of food and cutlery, mounted as a place setting in ...

Article

Peter C. Sturman

[zi Mojie ]

(b near Taiyuan, Shaanxi Province, ad 701; d c. 761).

Chinese poet, painter and Musician. One of China’s greatest poets, he was also a painter at a time when relatively few men of high social position practised this art. His reputation as a painter was limited in his own time, but his unparalleled stature as a man of letters attracted the attention of scholar–official painters of subsequent periods, who celebrated Wang Wei as the founder of the literati tradition of painting ( see China, People’s Republic of §V 4., (ii) ). Born into a powerful and prestigious clan, at the age of 15 he dazzled the Tang court at Chang’an (modern Xi’an, Shaanxi Province) with his precocious skills as a poet, painter, calligrapher and musician. He passed the metropolitan examinations to receive his jinshi degree at the age of 20 and was appointed Assistant Secretary of Music. He ended his career with the high office of Right Assistant Director of the Department of State Affairs....

Article

Ismeth Raheem

( George Henricus )

(b Colombo, Dec 3, 1900; d Colombo, Dec 20, 1944).

Ceylonese photographer and musician . He was introduced to photography at a very early age during visits to A. W. Andree’s home and studio. It was only in the last ten years before his death that he returned to the medium with greater dedication and seriousness. Between 1919 and 1924 he qualified as a barrister in England and also became an accomplished pianist after studying at the Royal Academy of Music. Four years after his return from England he abandoned his legal career and became a pianist, often accompanying renowned foreign musicians at recitals in Colombo.

By 1930 Wendt’s involvement in the arts had earned him a pivotal place in the development of the modern movement in Ceylon. Alborada, his new residence in Colombo, which he designed and decorated in a contemporary style with prints and his own photographs, became a centre for intellectuals such as the painter George Keyt (...

Article

( Isabel )

(b Glossopdale, Derbs, April 8, 1941).

English fashion designer. The early phase of her career was closely affiliated with contemporary music, including costume design for the rock band the New York Dolls. Over the course of more than 30 years in fashion, Westwood became known for her use of historical sources and her enthusiasm for British dress and textile traditions ( see fig. ).

Westwood grew up in Derbyshire, where her parents managed a post office. The family moved to north-west London when she was 17. After her grammar school education, Westwood attended Harrow Art College, where she studied fashion and silversmithing, but left after one term. She trained to become a primary school teacher, married Derek Westwood in 1962 and had a son, Benjamin, one year later.

Westwood had a subsequent relationship with Malcolm McLaren (1946–2010), whom she met in 1965 after her divorce from her first husband. They had a son, Joseph Ferdinand Corré, in ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Primavera, Paraguay, 1943).

American installation and performance artist, writer and educator of Paraguayan birth. Emigrating from Paraguay to the United States in 1961, Faith Wilding consistently examined the social role of women and their bodies as the subject of her art. She received her BA in English with honors from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. Wilding did postgraduate studies in Art and Art History at California State University, Fresno, where she met the artist Judy Chicago, who founded the first Feminist Art Program. Wilding completed her MFA at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and served as teaching assistant for the renowned Feminist Art Program (FAP), team-taught by Chicago and artist Miriam Schapiro. In the FAP, Wilding led a consciousness-raising group and a journal writing class, in addition to participating in the famed collaborative project Womanhouse (Jan 30–Feb 28, 1972) with her crocheted installation Crocheted Environment (Womb Room) , which resembles a loosely crocheted spider’s web, and in the performance ...

Article

Mary Chou

[ Butter, Arlene Hannah ]

(b New York, March 7, 1940; d Houston, TX, Jan 28, 1993).

American photographer, performance artist, video artist, sculptor and teacher . Wilke earned a BFA and a teaching certificate from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia (1956–61). She taught at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting, PA, until 1965, and then moved to New York City where she taught at White Plains High School, just north of the city, until 1970. From 1972 to 1991 she taught sculpture at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Wilke is well known for examining stereotypes surrounding sexuality, femininity and feminism through the use of her body, language and visual punning.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Wilke created forms that were abstract but highly suggestive of female genitalia, with layered and folded flower-like shapes, modelled from clay, chewing gum, kneaded erasers, laundry lint and latex (e.g. Needed-Erase-Her , 1974). Exhibited in groups on the floor or on the wall, in an ordered and repetitious manner that recalls Minimalism, the forms are organic and sexual—suggestive of reproduction and procreation. In the 1970s Wilke began to use her own body in a series of performances, videos and photographs that confront erotic representations of the female body and cultural stereotypes about female sexuality. Her video ...

Article

Rochelle LeGrandsawyer

(b Newark, NJ, June 28, 1955).

African American performance and conceptual artist. Pope.L attended the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn (1973–5), Montclair College (BA 1978) and the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York (1977–8) before earning his MFA from Rutgers University (1981).

As the self-proclaimed “Friendliest Black Artist in America,” Pope.L approached the taboo and divisive subjects of race, sex and class as a comedic provocateur. Well-known Pope.L works, such as Eating the Wall Street Journal (2002) and Selling Mayonnaise for 100 Dollars a Dollop (1990–91), used humor and absurdity to engage socially-loaded subject matter. While Pope.L’s oeuvre spanned multiple media, much of his work took the form of public performance. For example, in The Great White Way: 22 miles, 5 years, 1 street (2002), Pope.L crawled, scooted and dragged himself—in segments over a five year period—through New York City on a 22-mile path from the Statue of Liberty to the Bronx, wearing a Superman costume and a skateboard strapped to his back....

Article

Ludovico C. Koppmann

(b Buenos Aires, Feb 19, 1913; d Buenos Aires, Oct 14, 1989).

Argentine architect and urban planner. He was the son of the composer Alberto Williams. He first studied engineering and aviation and became a leading member of the Rationalist Grupo Austral, before graduating as an architect from the University of Buenos Aires in 1941; he then went into practice in Buenos Aires. Williams became well known for his daring design experiments, manipulating space and utilizing technology to the full; they include such projects as ‘Dwellings in Space’ (1942), International Airport (1945) and ‘Hanging Office Building’ (1946), all in Buenos Aires; the latter was conceived as four huge concrete columns with beams and upper arcades from which the floors were hung. His built works include the Concert Hall (1942–53), Buenos Aires, and the House over the Brook (1943–5), constructed for his father in Mar del Plata; with the aim of raising the building off the ground but eliminating columns, the structure was designed like a bridge, supported on a parabolic curve....

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Philadelphia, PA, 1947).

American performance artist. Wilson graduated in 1969 from Wilmington College in Ohio, where she majored in English literature and minored in art. She completed her MA at Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, but left the program in 1971 prior to receiving her PhD and began teaching at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. She started making language-based art about parents and children, as she explored her experiences as a woman and artist. She transitioned to using performance as a medium, focusing on identity formation beginning in 1972 with works such as Posturing: Drag where she made herself up in different appearances, documenting each in photographs. This work was the first of several in which the artist examined the fluid nature of gender and self, although her work was dismissed by the male-oriented art world. She began receiving recognition when her 1973 postcard image and text work Breast Forms Permutated...

Article

Patti Stuckler

(b Waco, TX, Oct 4, 1941).

American performance artist, writer, draughtsman, printmaker and stage designer. He studied painting in Paris under the American painter George McNeil (b 1908) in 1962, before completing a degree in interior design at the Pratt Institute in New York from 1962 to 1965. After serving an apprenticeship in architecture to Paolo Soleri in Phoenix, AZ, from 1965 to 1966, he returned to New York and began to work as a performance artist, creating a range of theatrical productions that combine music, text, dance and design. He earned his reputation with productions such as Deafman Glance (first staged in 1970 at the University Theater in Iowa City, IA) and A Letter to Queen Victoria (première at the Teatro Caio Melisso in Spoleto, Italy, and extensively toured in 1974); many of these were large-scale, marathon extravaganzas in which a series of images, formed from the conjunction of actors, dancers and set designs, unfolded to the accompaniment of music. Abandoning traditional theatrical elements such as ordered narrative content and the compression of real time, he favoured an avant-garde approach influenced by composers, choreographers and artists active in New York from the early 1960s....

Article

Andrzej Rottermund

In 

Article

Klaus Ottmann

(b Red Bank, NJ, Sept 14, 1954; d New York City, July 22, 1992).

American painter, photographer, writer, film maker, performance artist, and gay rights activist. After an abusive and violent childhood, Wojnarowicz spent his teenage years as a male prostitute in the streets of New York City. He eventually attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan and first became noticed as a graffiti artist by stencilling images of burning houses onto buildings in New York, for screening Super-8 films of abandoned buildings, and as a member of a punk band called 3 Teens Kill 4.

In the late 1980s, Wojnarowicz began to create his signature collages—provocative historical allegories to present social and political issues—by combining text, paint, collaged elements, and photography, such as Untitled (Buffalo) (1988–9), an ominous photographic collage picturing a herd of buffaloes being driven over a cliff, which was used in 1992 by the Irish rock band U2 as a cover image for their CD single ...

Article

Henry Walton

(b Nüchtern, nr Bowyl, Feb 29, 1864; d Berne, Nov 6, 1930).

Swiss artist, writer and musician . He was the youngest of eight children of an alcoholic stonebreaker whose desertion of the family precipitated the death of Wölfli’s mother in 1873. After a series of sexual offences Wölfli was institutionalized with schizophrenia in 1895 in Waldau Mental Asylum, Berne, where he remained until his death from cancer. Although he drew his first pictures in 1899, his earliest surviving works date from 1904–6. His work is instantly identifiable; like Blake’s it expresses a strongly personal language, as in the High and Low Nobility of the English and British Canada Union (1911; Berne, Kstmus.; for illustration see Psychotic art ). He was a prolific producer of pictorial and narrative work in folios (Hefte) of newspaper format (1000×750 mm). The pencil and coloured crayon drawings depict his fantasized biographical journey, portraying him either as Doufi, ‘the child of poor and depraved parents’, or as ‘St Adolf II’. The borders are emphatic, and there are symmetrical arrangements, oval forms, circles, crosshatching and musical notation. The use of colour is original and idiosyncratic. In the accompanying narrative Wölfli’s alter ego is pitched towards his own death; he assaults his victims, his crimes are punished by illness and incarceration, he is struck by lightning and destroyed by attack or by natural forces. Illustrations from the popular magazine ...