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Article

Margaret Moore Booker

(b Cow Springs, AZ, March 21, 1946).

Native American potter. The daughter of famed Navajo potter Rose Williams, Cling broke with tradition by creating highly polished, red-hued decorative ware in a contemporary style that ushered in a new generation of Navajo art potters (including her two sisters).

After graduating from the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City, UT, she married Jerry Cling and worked as a teacher’s aide at the Shonto Boarding School. Initially learning to pot from her mother while a young girl, she became interested in the craft in the 1970s and over time developed an innovative style that reflected her own individual vision.

Cling used the traditional method of coiling and pinching clay into the desired form, then sanded, polished and coated her pottery with piñon pitch. She worked in the small communal room of her home in the Shonto-Cow Springs region of Arizona, watched by her mother, who lived across the highway. Her pots were fired outdoors in an open pit with juniper wood (and sometimes sheep manure) for fuel....

Article

(b Monroe, WA, July 5, 1940).

American painter and printmaker. He studied (1960–65) at the University of Washington, Seattle, at Yale University, and at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna. During this period he painted biomorphic abstract works, influenced by the avant-garde American art of the previous two decades. After a brief experiment with figurative constructions, he began copying black-and-white photographs of a female nude in colour on to canvas. After abandoning this approach he used a black-and-white palette, which resulted in the 6.7 m long Big Nude (1967–8; artist’s col., see Lyons and Storr, p. 14). Finding this subject too ‘interesting’, he turned to neutral, black-and-white head-and-shoulder photographs as models, which he again reproduced in large scale on canvas, as in Self-portrait (1968; Minneapolis, MN, Walker A. Cent.). He incorporated every detail of the photograph and allowed himself no interpretative freedom. Working from photographs enabled him to realize the variations in focus due to changing depth of field, something impossible when working from life. He continued in the black-and-white style until ...

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

Sharon Matt Atkins

(b Oakland, CA, Aug 26, 1925; d Tucson, AZ, June 4, 2009).

American painter, printmaker and teacher. Colescott produced highly expressive and gestural paintings that addressed a wide range of social and cultural themes and challenged stereotypes. Interested in issues of race, gender and power, his work critiqued the representation of minorities in literature, history, art and popular culture. Stylistically, his work is indebted to European modernism, particularly Cubism and Expressionism, but also makes references to African sculpture, African American art and post–World War II American styles.

Colescott was introduced to art at an early age. His mother was a pianist and his father was a classically-trained violinist and jazz musician. Through his parents’ social circles, he often found himself surrounded by creative individuals as he was growing up, like his artistic mentor, the sculptor Sargent Johnson (1888–1967). Colescott received his BA in 1949 and later his MFA in 1952 from the University of California, Berkeley. He also studied with ...

Article

Anne Blecksmith

Term used to describe pictorial representations of objects and data using a computer. The term also implies the creation of and subsequent manipulation and analysis of computer-generated imagery and graphics. Computer-generated imagery was developed shortly after the introduction of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) in 1946. In 1950, a mathematician and artist from Iowa named Ben Laposky produced computer-generated graphic images using an electronic oscilloscope and photographed the results using high-speed film. The first interactive man-machine graphics program was Sketchpad, invented by Ivan Sutherland, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Developed for the TX-2 computer, Sketchpad allowed one to draw on the computer screen using a light pen and processed image manipulation functions through a series of toggle switches.

In 1965, scientists from the USA and Germany organized concurrent computer art exhibitions entitled Computer-Generated Pictures at the Howard Wise Gallery in New York and the Galerie Niedlich in Stuttgart. The American scientists, Bela Julesz and A. Michael Noll worked at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ, a center of computer graphic development and in ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Concord, NH, Dec 10, 1957).

American painter and draughtsman. He emerged in the mid-1980s with figurative paintings in an often expressive but mannered style. The figures generally had comical features bordering on the caricatural, such as large noses or bulbous eyes, and they seemed to parody earlier styles and genres of painting. Italian Still Life (1985; see W. Dickhoff) employs the image of a painter’s palette to make a clown’s head, which stands against a broadly described landscape background. Condo’s interest in bringing a Pop sensibility to bear on earlier, canonical art was also echoed around this time in his drawings, many of which display a rather parodic affinity with the work of Picasso. In the late 1980s and early 1990s Condo produced a series of nudes and portraits in a style resembling Picasso’s late work; during the same period he evolved a kind of fusion between Cubism and biomorphic abstraction in pictures depicting muscular forms erupting from fissures in the surface. ...

Article

Mary M. Tinti

(b Colgate, Jamaica, Oct 16, 1960).

African American photographer of Jamaican birth. Although born in Jamaica, Cox was raised in an upper–middle-class neighborhood in Scarsdale, NY. Interested in both film and photography, Cox favored the latter for its immediacy and began her study of the craft while at Syracuse University. After a brief stint as a fashion photographer, Cox received her MFA from the New York School of Visual Arts in 1992 and participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program from 1992–3.

Cox became a household name in 2001 when New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani took great offense at Yo Mama’s Last Supper (1996), a controversial photographic reinterpretation of Leonardo’s Last Supper, unveiled at the Brooklyn Museum exhibition, Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers. (The photo featured a nude Cox, with arms outstretched, flanked by 11 black, dreadlocked apostles and a white Judas.) Outraged at the image’s supposedly irreverent, anti-Catholic overtones, Giuliani called for a special commission on decency to oversee organizations whose exhibitions benefited from public funds. The subsequent media frenzy earned Cox (who was raised Catholic) much publicity in the popular press, which in turn brought new critical attention to her works....

Article

Francis Summers

(b New York, Sept 26, 1962).

American photographer. Crewdson obtained a BFA from the State University of New York Purchase, NY, and an MFA from Yale University, New Haven, CT, where he completed his studies in 1988. Creating highly constructed photographs that deal with the duality of culture and nature, Crewdson presented his first major cycle of untitled photographs within the tradition of pictorial dioramas, under the heading Natural Wonder (1992–7). Working with installations he had made in his studio from backdrops and stuffed animals, Crewdson created open-ended ambiguous narratives that took the American suburban landscape as a model for anxiety and desire. Typically, animals are posed in uncanny and unnatural roles; one such work has a ring of eggs (mirroring monolithic structures) surrounded by a gathering of birds in some unknowable ritual (see 1999 exh. cat., p. 34). Taxidermy featured less in Crewdson’s later work, but he continued to explore his interest in pictorial framing. His ...

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

Tom Williams

(b Philadelphia, PA, Aug 30, 1943).

American illustrator and cartoonist. Crumb became prominent during the 1960s as one of the key figures in the development of the Underground Comix movement, which was comprised of a number of different artists who self-published comic books that addressed distinctly personal and often controversial themes. His work is frequently associated with the counterculture of that period and is notable for his candid depictions of drug use and sex. Although he was self-trained, he spent much of the early 1960s working as a greeting card illustrator in Cleveland, and he later went to work for the former Mad magazine illustrator Harvey Kurtzman’s Help! In 1967, he moved to San Francisco where he began to self-publish such comic books as Zap Comix, Despair and The People’s Comics that often featured characters such as Mr. Natural and Fritz the Cat. Many of these comics also included contributions by other significant cartoonists of the period such as S. Clay Wilson (...

Article

Ricardo Pau-Llosa

(b Havana, April 5, 1942).

Cuban painter, active in the USA. He left Cuba in 1960 and settled in New York, where from 1966 to 1969 he studied at the School of Visual Arts. He was a protagonist of the neo-expressionist movement that emerged in New York in the 1970s (see Neo-Expressionism in America). His work of this date is characterized by a humour lacking in some of the work by European exponents, for example The Dance of Latin America (acrylic on canvas, 1.96×2.34 m, 1983; New York, Met.). In 1985 he won a Guggenheim Fellowship in painting. Works by Cruz Azaceta are in a number of collections (e.g. A Question of Colour, acrylic on canvas, 3.05×3.66 m, 1989; Houston, TX, Mus. F.A.) including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; Boston Museum of Fine Arts, MA; and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, TX....

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

Rina Arya

(b Boulder, CO, Sept 19, 1962).

American painter. Currin completed a BFA at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (1984) and an MFA at Yale University (1986). His subjects include adolescent girls, middle-aged women, and couples, all of which are the focus of his compositions. His work has been described as provocative, pornographic, misanthropic, grotesque, and misogynistic. Currin presents fictional portraits that are disturbing because they meld the idealized nude with the crudity of the pin-up. Currin exaggerates the male objectifying gaze by focusing on the portrayal of the young and naked female body as the site for male desire, while also satirizing this art historical tradition. However, he is also deeply indebted to art historical references, for example his convention of working to the small dimensions of easel painting, the use of Renaissance prototypes, and his appropriation of the Mannerist style.

His work can be divided into phases. The early body of work, ...

Article

Sophie Howarth

(b New York, July 10, 1948; d Lake Peekskill, NY, July 21, 2013).

American painter, draughtsman, printmaker and sculptor. From 1966 to 1970 he studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he made large figurative paintings around themes such as rescue and survival. He stopped painting in 1970 but continued to make drawings and sculptures, including a series of large iron cages such as The Getting To Know You Cage (1979; USA, priv. col.), in which the reactions between two people inside a confined space could be observed by spectators. Several of Cutrone’s cages were shown at Mudd Club, a combined music venue and gallery in New York which he ran between 1979 and 1982. From 1972 to 1982 Cutrone worked as a studio assistant to Andy Warhol, also briefly co-editing Warhol’s Interview magazine (1972–3). He resumed painting in the early 1980s and began incorporating Biblical imagery into his work, linking it with favourite American cartoon characters in ways that deliberately courted controversy. He established his reputation around the same time as such graffiti artists as ...

Article

Donna Stein

(b Hollywood, CA, June 21, 1941).

American photographer, educator, and author. She attended the University of California Los Angeles (1959–62), where she studied drawing and painting. She completed her education at San Francisco State University (BA 1963, MA 1966) where she studied with Jack Welpott (1923–2007), whom she married (1971–7). Dater’s perceptive portraits of women and men and challenging photographs of the nude secured her international reputation.

Her earliest self-portraits date from 1963, using her own image to consider issues of gender, sexuality and the female role in society as well as the hidden side of herself. In 1980, she took the first of 10 trips throughout the Southwest, creating a series of black-and-white self-portraits in the landscape. She also photographed herself in color creating staged tableaus, not unlike Cindy Sherman’s fictional archetypes that satirize iconic roles thrust upon women by society.

Dater has explored the interpretive portrait genre from the beginning of her career to the present. Living and working in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco during the 1960s, she was stimulated by feminism and other counter-culture movements (...

Article

Martine Reid

(b Masset, Queen Charlotte Islands, BC, Nov 4, 1946).

Native American Haida sculptor, metalworker, printmaker and blanket-maker. He was the grandson of the Haida blanket- and basket-maker Florence Davidson (1895–1993), and great-grandson of the Haida wood-carver Charles Edenshaw. He began carving argillite as a teenager in Masset, and in 1966 he met Bill Reid, who offered him workshop space in Vancouver. There Davidson developed new carving skills and learnt the fundamentals of the two-dimensional (‘formline’) designs used by the Haida and other tribes of the northern Northwest Coast (see Native North American art, §III, 2). In 1969 he returned to Masset to carve a 12.2 m-high totem pole, the first heraldic column to be raised on the Queen Charlotte Islands since the end of the 19th century. In 1987 Davidson and his crew produced a set of three totem poles entitled Three Variations on Killer Whale Myths for the Pepsicola Sculptural Garden in Purchase, NY. In these totem poles Davidson worked within the strict conventions of the Haida style, refining it by introducing subtle variations in design but preserving a degree of conservative austerity in which movement and individual expression are sacrificed to overall unity of form. In his early work in silver Davidson used flat patterns influenced by Edenshaw, and he went on to develop these into an innovative style of his own in screenprints, silver and bronze. Davidson’s younger brother, ...

Article

(Louis)

(b Denver, CO, Nov 24, 1941).

American sculptor. He studied at the University of Colorado, Boulder (1961–5), and was an art assistant at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (1966–8). He had his first one-man show at the OK Harris Gallery in New York in 1970. He rapidly developed a style of casting and then painting fibreglass or polyvinyl acetate sculptures of figures from live models. His techniques evolved to include refinements for achieving his hyper-realistic effects, including layering paint and glazes to depict a variety of skin surfaces and veins, creating individual characteristics such as moles and freckles, and implanting hair instead of adding wigs (see fig.). The extreme verism of his work links it to Photorealism, although it lacks the strong cultural identity evident in much Photorealist sculpture and painting. Many of the sculptures are of one or two young, elegant, and casually posed nude figures, as in ...

Article

Kelly Dennis

[Joseph] (Maurice)

(b Topeka, KS, Aug 12, 1947; d Providence, RI, June 18, 2010).

American photographer. Deal earned a BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1970, and subsequently, at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, he earned an MA in photography in 1974 and an MFA in 1978, completing his thesis while teaching at the University of California Riverside. At Riverside in 1977, Deal started the photography programme and helped found the California Museum of Photography. Deal was part of a generation of photographers who depicted the ‘man-altered’ landscape in their work. He later served as Dean of the School of Art at Washington University in St Louis, MO, and as Provost of the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.

As a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, Deal was sent to work at George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, where he assisted in coordinating exhibitions. He was a key advisor to Eastman House curator and friend William Jenkins in the conception of the influential ...

Article

Konjit Seyoum

(b 1947).

Ethiopian painter and computer artist, active in the USA. He trained at the School of Fine Arts under Gebre Krestos Desta in 1967. He received a scholarship to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in Nigeria, where he earned a BA (1972). He then moved to the United States to be curator of the art gallery at Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD. He actively promoted Ethiopian art, curating two 1973 exhibitions that featured Ethiopian artists working in the USA. He was awarded an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore. His paintings from this period are figurative. He went on to receive a PhD in computer art from The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, and became a professor of art and director of the Computing Center for the Arts at North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC. His works from the 1990s are cibachrome prints of computer-manipulated imagery that range from complex compositions to simple figural depictions....

Article

James Smalls

(b New York, NY, Dec 9, 1919; d New York, NY, Oct 27, 2009).

American photographer and teacher. A central figure in post-war American photography, DeCarava strongly believed ‘in the power of art to illuminate and transform our lives’. Using Harlem as his subject, DeCarava created groundbreaking pictures of everyday life in that enclave of New York. He is also known for scenes of civil rights protests of the early 1960s, images of jazz musicians, and lyrical studies of nature.

DeCarava studied painting and printmaking at the Cooper Union School of Art, the Harlem Community Art Center, and the George Washington Art School. He took up photography in the late 1940s and quickly mastered its vocabulary. In 1952, DeCarava won a Guggenheim Fellowship—the first awarded to an African American photographer. The scholarship allowed him to spend a year photographing daily life in Harlem. These pictures brought a new moderation and intimacy to the photographing of African Americans and their social environment. Perhaps his most memorable photographs were those that appeared in the book ...