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Article

Harriet F. Senie

Objects created to remind viewers of specific individuals or events (see also Public monument). At its inception, the United States faced fundamental questions of what the new nation should commemorate and what forms would be appropriate for its new form of government: democracy. Primary subjects were presidents as well as military leaders and wars that functioned as expressions of national values. Often realized long after their subject had died or ended, monuments frequently reflected the time in which they were actually built. As societal values changed, so did the form and emphasis of monuments.

National memorials to the most influential presidents, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt include an obelisk, a sculpture housed in a temple and a large complex defined by a series of outdoor spaces dedicated to key aspects of a presidency.

Initially there were no American sculptors capable of realizing a monumental project to George Washington (...

Article

Deborah F. Pokinski

(Lewis)

(b Stockbridge, MA, July 29, 1862; d Clifton Springs, NY, Dec 2, 1929).

American painter and muralist. Reid attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1880–84), then moved to New York, studying briefly at the Art Students League. In 1885 he went to Paris, studying at the Académie Julian where he received training as a muralist under Gustave(-Clarence-Rodolphe) Boulanger and Jules(-Joseph) Lefebvre. In 1889 he returned to New York and began painting portraits and teaching at the Art Students League (1893–6).

Decorative murals—typically idealized, allegorical figure compositions—were in great demand during the era of Beaux-Arts architectural design. Reid created a number of them, including at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 and in the Library of Congress, as well as for hotels, churches and even an ocean liner.

By the early 1890s Reid began adopting Impressionist qualities to define his signature theme—attractive young women in light, gauzy dresses, out of doors, surrounded by flowers. Images of upper-class women, usually isolated and pensive, were among the most popular subjects of turn-of-the-century American painters, although Reid rejected the more conventional interior settings of his peers for light filled exteriors and generally even-toned, pastel colours. His ribbon-like strokes of paint both suggested dappled sunlight and flattened his forms. As a result, in works such as ...

Article

Friedrich Meschede

(b Düsseldorf, Sept 30, 1938).

German sculptor and draughtsman. He served as an apprentice stonemason from 1956 to 1959 and continued his technical training from 1959 to 1961 as a journeyman at the cathedral restoration workshop in Cologne. It was there that he learnt all the techniques associated with architectural sculpture; the systematic and technical principles of tracery exerted a particular influence on his later work. He brought his studies to an end with two terms at the Werkkunstschule in Cologne under Ludwig Gies, feeling unsuccessful and disillusioned, and from 1963 to 1969 he worked in a studio in Schloss Nörvenich near Düren. During this period he carved portraits in stone and wood and also produced work for casting in bronze; his work in stone included sculptures influenced by abstract artists such as Maurice Lipsi (b 1898) and Fritz Wotruba as well as commissioned gravestones and monuments. In 1965–6 he produced a series of assembled open wooden constructions (destr., see ...

Article

Didier Semin

(b San Francisco, Nov 2, 1939).

American sculptor. He studied from 1957 to 1961 at the University of California at Berkeley and Santa Barbara, and from 1961 to 1964 at Yale University in New Haven, CT, where he worked with Josef Albers on his Interaction of Color (New Haven, 1963). His works of the late 1960s, particularly those made of molten or cast lead, such as the Splashings and Castings of 1968–9 (e.g. Casting, exh. New York, Whitney, 1969; destr.; see 1983 exh. cat., p. 68), were predicated on the idea that the essence of the work lay in the act and in the specific qualities of the materials and the spaces in which they are displayed. These and related works by other artists came to be referred to as Process art. Serra applied these principles not only to such temporary works but also to installations of variable dimensions consisting of random arrangements of solid materials, such as the ...

Article

Linda Weintraub

(b New Bedford, MA, 1945).

American performance artist, sculptor, landscape architect, educator, and writer. Sherk received her BA from Rutgers University, Douglass College and her MA from San Francisco State University. She acquired certificates in Landscape Architecture and in Traditional Arts of Japan from the University of California Extension and the Oomoto School of Traditional Japanese Arts, respectively. In the early 1970s she devised the term “Environmental Performance Sculpture” to describe her work, which remained relevant to her later ventures. These works highlighted the significance of “environment,” which she manifested by integrating artistic interventions into cultural and physical conditions of a site. Three early examples include Portable Parks I–III (1970), a series that included the transformation of three urban “dead spaces” into multispecies habitats; Response (1971; University of California San Diego), a performance installation that presented concurrent responses to being in the university from the perspectives of psychology, biology, physics, still photography, and video; and the ...

Article

SITE  

John F. Pile

[Sculpture In The Environment]

American architectural and environmental art organization founded in 1970 under the leadership of James Wines (b 1932). Wines trained at Syracuse University, NY, in sculpture and art history, graduating in 1955. Other principals included Alison Sky, Joshua Weinstein, and Michelle Stone. The group’s main concern was an unconventional approach to the design of the modern urban and suburban environment. Wines coined the term ‘de-architecture’ to describe the work of the group, in which conventional architectural approaches are replaced by surprising, eccentric, occasionally humorous proposals that relate to art and other non-architectural forms of visual communication. SITE’s work first attracted attention in 1971 when the group was responsible for the design of a showroom for the Best Products company, known as the Peeling Building Project, at Richmond, VA. Best Products, a frequent client of SITE, is a chain retailer whose shops are large, box-like buildings that stand in suburban shopping centres surrounded by extensive parking lots. For the Richmond project, SITE developed an exterior treatment, in which the generally blank front wall of the building appears to be peeled away at one edge. Subsequent projects for Best Products have developed other strange, ambiguous, and disturbing treatments for the exteriors of the generally similar and otherwise anonymous buildings. Indeterminate Façade (...

Article

Suzaan Boettger

(b Passaic, NJ, Jan 2, 1938; d Amarillo, TX, July 20, 1973).

American sculptor, painter, and writer. In his brief professional life Robert Smithson originated a new genre, Earthworks, which led to ensuing forms of Land art and equally influentially, wrote pungent essays. As Andy Warhol exemplifies the United States’ expansive, driven commercial optimism of the early 1960s, Smithson’s oeuvre makes him the icon of the abject Post-minimalist, anti-Establishment, Vietnam War era of the late 1960s through early 1970s.

As with most sculptors of the time, Smithson trained as a painter, beginning at the Art Students League in New York City while a junior at Clifton High School, New Jersey, and after his 1956 graduation, continuing at the League and briefly at the Brooklyn Museum School. Following a year in the Army Reserves and hitchhiking trips around the United States, he resided in Manhattan. Eschewing college, Smithson’s début solo show was at the Artist’s Gallery, Manhattan, in 1959. Smithson and Nancy Holt, who attended Clifton High concurrently, met in ...

Article

Tom Williams

(b New York, 1946).

American land and environmental artist. He received a BA in painting and art education from Western Illinois University, Macomb in 1968. He subsequently enrolled at the Pratt Institute in New York and at Ohio State University before completing an MA from Hunter College in 1970. Between 1970 and 1974 he also attended MIT as a Research Fellow in the Architectural Department in the Center of Advanced Visual Studies. In addition to this formal education, he has often cited his early experiences at the American Museum of Natural History, the Bronx Zoo and the Hemlock Forest along the Bronx River as formative influences to his later artistic development. He is best known for environmentally themed earthworks that address the histories of their sites or stage a form of land reclamation by reversing the effects of industrial development and pollution.

Unlike many of his contemporaries in the earth art movement, such as ...

Article

(b Bamendjan, 1951).

Cameroonian sculptor and printmaker. Although largely self-taught, Sumegne studied painting with Martin Abosolo. He became best known for his sculptural works: figural constructions synthesized through the creative recycling of found objects and materials. His works engage with themes of urban life, public space, post-colonial identity, and the geopolitics of Cameroon and Africa.

Sumegne invented the word ‘jala’a’ as a name for his artistic practice, which he has described as fundamentally interdisciplinary. Through this multifaceted process, Sumegne integrates techniques from various art forms, such as weaving, jewellery-making, colouring, and sculpture. He believes that his works of reformatted refuse demonstrated the capacity for potent emotional, physical, and intellectual outcomes to emerge from waste, a phenomenon to which he has ascribed spiritual significance. Many of Sumegne’s works engage with notions of heritage and identity by importing formal qualities from regional artistic traditions. For example, the faces of his figural sculptures often incorporate characteristics of masks made by members of the Bamileke ethnic group. Similarly, his juxtapositions of bright-coloured plastics against dark industrial elements evoke the patterns of African textiles and jewellery....

Article

Alissa Walker

(b Brooklyn, NY, May 26, 1931; d Los Angeles, CA, Aug 19, 2014).

American graphic designer and environmental designer . During a summer school at Black Mountain College in 1948, Sussman was exposed to the visual arts by a distinguished faculty including Merce Cunningham, John Cage and Franz Kline. She attended Bard College at Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, for painting and acting and specialized in graphic design at the Institute of Design in Chicago. In 1953 Sussman was invited to join the office of influential designers Charles and Ray Eames in Venice, CA, where she worked intermittently for the next decade, leaving briefly to accept the Fulbright Scholarship to study at the Hochschule für Gestaltang in Ulm. As art director of the Eames office, Sussman designed furniture showrooms, films and printed materials, and worked on revolutionary museum exhibits for IBM, the Ford Foundation and the government of India. In 1964 she travelled to India to assemble the project Nehru: The Man and His India.

Upon leaving the Eames office, Sussman founded her own practice in ...

Article

Paul J. Karlstrom

(b Chico, CA, May 1, 1860; d Berkeley, CA, c. Aug 4, 1935).

American sculptor. Speech and hearing impaired from shortly before his 4th birthday, he nonetheless enjoyed a productive and successful career as a sculptor. With works such as Baseball Player (1889; San Francisco, CA, Golden Gate Park), Bear Hunt (1892; Fremont, CA, CA Sch. Deaf) and (California) Admission Day Monument (1897; San Francisco, CA, Market, Post and Montgomery Streets), he established himself as a designer of major monuments now regarded as comprising the greatest single legacy of public art in the San Francisco Bay area. Described in his day as the Father of Sculpture on the Pacific Coast, he was the first California-born sculptor to receive international recognition. His reputation was such that in 1900, despite his disabilities, he was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art by the Regents of the University of California (the school was at the time part of UC). Six years earlier, he had founded the first department of modelling at MHIA, introducing live nude models into the classroom....

Article

Midori Yoshimoto

(b Tokyo, April 5, 1967).

Japanese sculptor, installation and video artist . Torimitsu received a BFA in sculpture at Tama Art University (1994) and, soon after her university graduation, she completed Miyata Jiro, a life-size robot of a stereotypical Japanese businessman, and made it crawl on the pavements of various districts in Tokyo. Perhaps because of its candid critique of Japanese corporate culture, businessmen in Marunouchi district pretended not to look at the robot, while it attracted large crowds elsewhere. In order to study varying reactions to her robot in different social settings, Torimitsu moved to New York in 1996, to participate in the P.S.1 International Program. For the American premier of Miyata Jiro that year, on Wall Street and near the Rockefeller Center, Torimitsu dressed as a nurse to redirect the robot’s movement or recharge its battery. Her New York performances were so well received that Torimitsu subsequently acquired opportunities to do the same in Amsterdam, Graz, London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney....

Article

Ronald J. Onorato

(b Quebec, May 11, 1944).

American sculptor of Canadian birth. Educated in Montreal and in New York City, where he attended the Brooklyn Museum Art School, Hunter College, and received a BS from New York University in 1969. Trakas created site-specific landscape installations in America and Europe from the 1970s. He has received numerous awards including NEA and Guggenheim fellowships and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Merit Award for Sculpture and has taught at Cooper Union and Yale University. Trakas moved to the USA in 1963 and since his earliest completed outdoor works, like Rock River Union (1976), he has been a leading proponent of hand-constructed environments. His work shared aspects of scale, audience participation and architectural form with such artists as Alice Aycock, Mary Miss, Richard Fleischner and Siah Armajani. They all extended the tradition of earlier, less accessible earthworks into the realm of more approachable, often urban, spaces that a viewer can engage spatially as well as understand for their symbolic and narrative content. Trakas’s own projects were primarily constructed of welded steel with wood and stone elements, sometimes recycled from the sites themselves....

Article

Margaret Barlow

(b Los Angeles, May 6, 1943).

American installation artist. He studied psychology and mathematics at Pomona College, Claremont, CA (1962–5), and then took a course in fine art at the University of California, Irvine (1965–6). His first projects were carried out at the Mendote Hotel, Ocean Park, CA, which he rented as a studio and exhibition space from 1966 to 1972. Here, using cross-projected halogen lights, Turrell created illuminated geometrical shapes that interacted with the bare interior and with the world outside. In Shallow Space Constructions (1968; exh. New York, Whitney, 1980) he used screened partitions, allowing a radiant effusion of concealed light to create an artificially flattened effect within the given space. In his many subsequent installations Turrell was concerned to revivify the viewer’s perception of the world, using fixed durations of light and colour to convey the experience of ‘touching with sight’. Many of his projects went beyond the confines of galleries and museums. In ...