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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 ...

Article

Josephine Withers

[Feminist performance art]

The legacy of women and performance art was and is inestimable as it impacted future generations of artistic practice and questioned the boundaries between art and life. Performance art is a paradigm of feminism itself, which despite the claims of its detractors has never been a monolithic movement or single philosophical system. It borrows from the genres conventionally associated with the performing arts—acting, singing, music, dance, and theatre, as well as from guerrilla theatre, Happenings, and traditional religious ritual. Most performance artists, however, would disdain having their work associated with the theatre as performance art tends to be open-ended and less directive than conventional theatre and can occur in any public or private space. The vitality and strength of performance art was and is its unruliness, whether completely improvisational or tightly choreographed, and its resistance to simple definitions. The scope of feminist performance art is vast and this article focuses on its early developments in the USA in the 1970s (...

Article

Andrew Cross

English sculptors, video artists and performance artists. John Wood (b Hong Kong, 18 June 1969) and Paul Harrison (b Wolverhampton, 30 November 1966) both graduated as painters from Bath College of Higher Education and began working together in 1993. Their collaborative video works involve both artists performing bizarre but very simple actions. While referencing the early videos and performances of Bruce Nauman or Charles Ray, the humour and irony of their work is more reminiscent of British television comedy of the 1960s and 1970s. In 3 legged (1996; see D. Batchelor and C. Esche) the two protagonists are seen tied together at the ankle and confined within a simple wooden shelter while an automatic tennis server shoots balls at them; the two tussle in idiotic fashion while trying to avoid each ball. All their collaborative works examine their intimate physical collaboration or their relationship to a particular physical environment. ...

Article

Lija Skalska-Miecik

(b Kraków, Jan 15, 1869; d Kraków, Nov 28, 1907).

Polish painter, pastellist, decorative artist, illustrator, writer and theatre director . He was the son of the Kraków sculptor Franciszek Wyspiański (1836–1902) and studied at the Kraków School of Fine Arts, mostly under Władysław Łuszczkiewicz (1828–1900) and Jan Matejko. In 1889 Wyspiański and Józef Mehoffer, the school’s most talented students, were appointed to complete Matejko’s painted decorations for St Mary, Kraków, a task that prompted Wyspiański’s interest in both decorative painting and stained glass. In 1890 he travelled in Italy, Switzerland, France and Germany, and also to Prague. In 1891 he continued his training in Paris, where he remained with intervals until 1894, studying at the Académie Colarossi under Joseph Blanc, Gustave Courtois (1852–1924) and Louis Auguste Girardot (b 1858). Wyspiański also worked independently in Paris, studying paintings in the museums and fascinated by contemporary art. Through Władysław Ślewiński, he met Paul Gauguin and members of the Nabis....

Article

V. Rakitin

( Bogdanovich )

(b Tiflis [now Tbilisi], Jan 2, 1884; d Erevan, Dec 28, 1928).

Georgian stage designer and painter of Armenian origin, active in Russia . He studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1901–3) but was expelled after a disagreement over the teaching methods. Posted to the Far East during military service, he became acquainted with Far Eastern decorative art, which inspired the works he exhibited with the Blue Rose group after his return to Moscow in 1907 (e.g. The Races, 1905; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.). His work of this time refers to traditional Chinese and medieval European art refracted through Art Nouveau, in an attempt to create a new decorative style in easel painting. In Moscow he often designed the décor for artistic soirées and balls, creating architecturally decorative compositions whose basic components were painted panels. In 1910 he travelled to Italy and in 1912–13 he worked in Paris, where he became acquainted with Sonia Delaunay and Robert Delaunay. In ...

Article

Shin’ichiro Osaki

(b Nishiwaki, Hyōgo Prefect., 1936).

Japanese stage designer, printmaker and painter . In 1960 he went to Tokyo and began his career as a stage designer. He was responsible for the design of such avant-garde drama as the Situation Theatre (Jōkyō Gekijō) of Jūrō Kara (b 1940) and the Upper Gallery (Tenjō Sajiki) of Shūji Terayama (1935–83). He also produced prints and in 1967 exhibited works in the Word and Image exhibition at MOMA, New York. Although he used photographs as the basis of his designs, Yokoo’s prints drew upon aspects of traditional Japanese woodcuts that coincided with the style of contemporary Pop art, using in particular flat areas of colour and overtly sexual subject-matter (e.g. X-sex IV, screenprint, 1968; priv. col., see Yokoo, 1990, p. 13). In addition to his activity as a commercial designer, from the late 1960s he became interested in mysticism and psychedelic art, influenced in particular by travels in India in the 1970s. He produced posters with eclectic imagery similar to that of contemporary psychedelic ‘underground’ magazines. In ...

Article

Julia Robinson

(b Bern, ID, Oct 13, 1935).

American composer. Young was an exponent of experimental “drone” music and an originator of Minimalism (whose diverse practitioners include Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass). Educated at the University of California, Los Angeles (1957–8), he completed his graduate studies in composition at the University of California, Berkeley. An avid and talented jazz musician, Young performed with legendary figures Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. In 1959, he attended Summer Courses at Darmstadt, the center of New Music, taking advanced composition with Karlheinz Stockhausen. There he discovered the work of John Cage and met Cage’s great interpreter David Tudor, who put Young in contact with Cage. Back in California, Young presented Cage’s work, adopting some of his radical strategies in his own music. A landmark Young composition of this period is Poem for Tables, Chairs, Benches, etc. (1960), a piece of indeterminate duration.

In 1960 Young moved to New York and galvanized a receptive circle of Cage-inspired artists and composers. Young’s most significant contribution to this milieu were his ...

Article

Reiko Tomii

[Zero Jigen]

Japanese group of performance artists founded in Nagoya, Japan, around 1959 and active until 1971. Zero Dimension was initially formed in Nagoya as a group of young painters, which held a few local exhibitions between 1960 and 1962. In 1963 Yoshihiro Katō (b 1936) and Iwata Shin’ichi (b 1935) emerged as two new leaders when more than 30 clothed members staged Crawling Procession Ritual on the streets of downtown Nagoya on New Year’s Day, in conjunction with the Insanity Nonsense Exhibition held at Aichi Culture Hall. With this first street performance by the group, the focus of its activity shifted to performances—which Katō called ‘rituals’ (gishiki)—in order to ‘bring human acts to the state of zero’. The driving force of Zero Dimension as a performance collective was Katō, who moved to Tokyo in late 1963 and started an electrical goods store, the income from which financed the group’s subsequent activities in Tokyo and other cities....

Article

Melissa Chiu

(b Shanghai, 1955; d Paris, Dec 13, 2000).

Chinese installation artist, active also in France. Chen studied at Shanghai Fine Arts and Craft School until 1973 and the Shanghai Drama Institute until 1978, where he majored in stage design. Following his graduation, he became a professor at both art schools. Chen’s most representative works from this period are a series of large, grey oil paintings entitled The Flow of Qi (Qi You Tu) (1985). These works endeavoured to represent the movement of qi, or spirit, a core element of life and the cosmos in Chinese philosophy. Although not radical in form, the work with its references to ancient and traditional Chinese philosophy was a provocative political gesture given that these ideas had been suppressed during the Cultural Revolution.

When Chen moved to Paris in 1986, he enrolled at the Institut des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques, graduating in 1989. His installations throughout the 1990s, when he came to international prominence, nearly without exception included references to his Chinese heritage, including Daoist philosophy, Chinese domestic objects (chamber pots, furniture such as chairs and tables, Buddha statues, abaci), and traditional medicine. These references demonstrate a residual effect of his Chinese upbringing—he lived in China until he was 31—as well as a sense of displacement as an immigrant in France and an attempt to come to grips with being a contemporary artist living and working in the West, but not sharing that region’s culture, history and traditions. For Chen, the incorporation of Chinese references in his work were essential as a matter of defining who he was as an artist, while at the same time articulating the uniqueness of his experience....

Article

Kathleen Curran

(b Regensburg, Feb 7, 1800; d Munich, July 24, 1873).

Bavarian architect and painter. After working with the stage designer Domenico Quaglio II he studied at the Königliche Akademie der bildenden Künste in Munich under the Neo-classical architect Karl von Fischer. Following Fischer’s death, Ziebland completed many of his projects, including the Hof- und Nationaltheater (1811–18) in Munich. An exhibition of Ziebland’s paintings brought him to the attention of Ludwig I, King of Bavaria ( see Wittelsbach, House of family §III, (3) ). In his quest to transform Munich into a museum of architecture, Ludwig sent Ziebland to Italy to study Early Christian basilicas, so that he could design one for Munich. After two years in Italy (1827–9) Ziebland was commissioned to design an Early Christian-style basilica with an adjacent Benedictine monastery. The Bonifaziusbasilika (1835–40), Munich, is the best known of Ziebland’s works. A brick, five-aisled basilica with a sumptuous interior, St Boniface was hailed as one of Ludwig’s greatest building projects. Its monastery is attached to his exhibition building, the ...

Article

(b May 28, 1952).

British performance artist, sculptor, photographer and writer. She studied Russian and Arabic at Leeds University (1970–72), and completed her foundation studies at Croydon College of Art (1972–3). She then studied fine art at Goldsmith’s College, London (1973–6), where the progressive approach to contemporary art led her to design her own course of study, which focused on all aspects of performance art. Influences upon her work include Yves Klein and Bruce McLean. Her ability to deflate the pretentious and absurd in daily life was demonstrated in unrehearsed, highly skilled displays of intuitive stagecraft. These are extended monologues that engage the audience with a mesmerising mixture of mimicry, metaphors, verbal and visual clichés and that explore the conventions of suburban existence and the domestic role of women (e.g. Rubbergloverama-Drama; 1980, London, ICA). Although known primarily as a performance artist, she also made sculptural works and ‘costume constructions’ initially created in connection with a performance, but which later existed as autonomous objects. Ziranek also took photographs, wrote (e.g. ...

Article

Robbert Ruigrok

(b Aktyubinsk, Kazakhstan, Feb 7, 1945).

Israeli painter, Playwright and theatre director of Kazakh birth. He moved to Israel with his parents when he was four. Having displayed an early artistic talent, Zohar had his first drawing lessons when he was 14. After three years in the army (from 1963), he entered the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. His teachers included Ernst Fuchs, the Viennese fantastic realist painter, who was highly influential on Zohar. Also important in his development were travels in Britain and the Netherlands, where he saw Dutch Old Master collections and in particular the work of Johannes Vermeer. Zohar’s first one-man show (1970) was at the Ahuva Doran Gallery in Tel Aviv. After exhibiting in further solo and group shows, in 1979 he lectured at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Zohar’s paintings of this period reflected strongly the influence of Vermeer in style and subject-matter. By the 1980s his work became more expressionistic and larger in scale. A retrospective in ...

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Andorno Micca, nr Biella, Piedmont, Sept 21, 1944).

Italian sculptor, performance artist and conceptual artist . He studied painting and sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Turin (1963–70) and held his first one-man show at the Galleria Sperone, Turin, in 1967. Use of such non-artistic materials as the scaffolding and foam of Chair (1967; New York, Sonnabend Gal.) ensured his inclusion in Arte Povera (1968; Bologna, Gal. de Foscherari) and performance at Arte Povera—azioni povere (1968; Amalfi, Arsenale). Zorio’s characteristic pieces rejected sculptural weight and solidity by use of cantilevers or suspension and reactions over time or with the environment. Several incorporated light; Phosphorescent Fist (1971; Paris, Pompidou) was lit and plunged into darkness, alternatively absorbing and emitting and absorbing energy, being lit and then unlit.

In common with his friend Giovanni Anselmo, Zorio raised linguistic problems, as in Odio (‘Hatred’), axed into a wall at Documenta 5, Kassel (1972), but his concern with energy led to experiments with both chemical and physical instability. He initiated gradual chemical reactions in his materials, which continued beyond the period of making, and used Olympic javelins to provide cantilevers; when combined with fragile, glass vessels or with the emblematic form of the five-pointed star (e.g. ...