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Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Brooklyn, NY, Aug 13, 1960).

African American photographer and multimedia artist. Simpson attended the High School of Art and Design then received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts, New York City in 1982 and her MFA in Visual Arts from University of California, San Diego in 1985. She focused on photography for both degrees. While still in graduate school she started complicating the presumed transparency of photography, experimenting with the clarity of the narrative, the deconstruction of narrative as associated with photography and an investigation of the transparency of photography. She would incorporate images of a figure turned away from the viewer alongside text that commented on the experience of women of colour in the patriarchy, as evidenced in The Waterbearer (1996; New York, Sean and Mary Kelly col.). A lone female figure pours water from two containers and the text at the bottom proclaims, ‘She Saw Him Disappear By The River, They Asked Her To Tell What Happened, Only To Discount Her Memory’, as an indication of the way the woman’s voice and experience is disregarded....

Article

Catherine M. Grant

(b Quincy, MA, Sept 11, 1946).

American photographer, sculptor, and installation artist. She studied at Smith College, Northampton, MA, between 1964 and 1968, spending time in Paris where she studied art history in 1966–7. Between 1969 and 1972 she studied at the University of Iowa, graduating with an MFA. Her works in the early 1970s were conceptual pieces, for example Crumpled and Copied (1973; see 1998 exh. cat., p. 22), in which she repeatedly crumpled and photocopied a piece of paper. In the mid-1970s Skoglund began to take photographs of food presented in geometric and brightly coloured surroundings so that the food becomes an integral part to the overall patterning, as in Cubed Carrots and Kernels of Corn (1978; see 1992 exh. cat.). Her use of brightly coloured interiors expanded into photographs of whole room installations, in which she would use domestic objects repeatedly, flattening out the photographed space. In the early 1980s Skoglund began to sculpt the repeated elements in her installations, as in ...

Article

Joe Coates

American design and photography studio. Founded in 1979 in Boston by Nancy Skolos (b 1955) and her husband Tom Wedell (b 1949), the pair worked collaboratively creating compositions that used photographic images by Wedell and typography and designs by Skolos. Their dynamic and complex designs and collages have been compared to the work of Cubists and Russian Constructivists.

Skolos’s father was an industrial designer and mother was a music teacher. She studied industrial design at the University of Cincinnati (1975–7) before transferring to the Cranbrook Academy of Art (BFA 1977), where she became a student of Katherine and Michael McCoy. Though admitted to the programme as an industrial design student, Skolos gravitated toward graphic design and showed a particular affinity for typography. She went on to pursue a graduate degree in graphic design at Yale University, where she met and worked with designers such as Alvin Eisenman (...

Article

Monica McTighe

(b New York City, Jan 16, 1933; d New York City, Dec 28, 2004).

American writer and critic. Born Susan Rosenblatt in New York City, she was raised in Arizona and California. She entered college at the age of 15 and received a BA from the University of Chicago in 1951. She earned MA degrees in English and Philosophy from Harvard University in 1954 and 1955, respectively. In the late 1950s she attended Oxford University for a year. Sontag married sociologist Philip Rieff in 1951 with whom she had a son. After their divorce she settled in New York City. Sontag was a noted cultural critic and public intellectual. Although best known for her essays, especially ‘Notes on Camp’ published in Partisan Review in 1964, she also wrote books of non-fiction, novels, and plays, and directed theatre productions and films.

Sontag’s On Photography (1977) earned her a reputation as an influential critic of photography. The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award in ...

Article

Klaus Ottmann

American photographers and film makers. Mike and his twin brother Doug Starn (b Absecon, NJ, 18 May 1961) attended the School of Fine Arts in Boston together (Diploma 1984). From 1984 the ‘Starn Twins’, as they were originally referred to, worked and exhibited collaboratively. Influenced by the gritty, autobiographical photographs of Mark Morrisroe (1959–89), who belonged to the so-called Boston school of photography that emerged in the 1970s, the large scale of their photographs, their use of appropriation, and a variety of technical and formal techniques borrowed from drawing, painting, and sculpture radically revised the traditional notion of photography. By tearing, creasing, and staining images before rearranging them with glue and Scotch tape, and by incorporating Plexiglas and metal frames into the work itself, they exposed the process of photography and successfully broke down the distinction between photography and art.

Subsequently, Mike and Doug Starn focused much of their artistic practice on monumental installations, such as ...

Article

Francis Summers

(b Prague, 1955).

Czech sculptor, photographer, video artist and performance artist active in Montreal, Canada. Moving to the West in her teenage years, she attended several Canadian universities before completing her MFA at the University of Toronto in 1982. Working in a variety of media, yet almost always engaging in a dialogue between the body and its environment, she is best known for her wearable sculptures not unlike those of Rebecca Horn. Her early work Measuring Tape Cone (1979; see 1995 exh. cat., p. 50) is a photograph that shows a tightly wound measuring tape covering the artist’s hand and extending into a cone. It is an early instance of her interest in creating objects that interact with the body, offering the possibility of liberation and the threat of containment. These themes are most obviously expressed in Jacket (1992; see 1995 exh. cat., p. 136), a garment in which the arms are sewn together. ...

Article

Martha Schwendener

(b New York, July 13, 1946; d Greenbrae, CA, Dec 13, 2009).

American photographer. He studied political science at the University California at Santa Barbara (BA, 1968) and photography at the San Francisco Art Institute (MFA, 1973). One of his major works was the book he published with fellow artist Mike Mandel, whom he had met as a student at SFAI, called Evidence (1977). Sultan and Mandel had already collaborated on billboards in Los Angeles, onto which they applied disjointed texts in the style of such California Conceptualists as Ed(ward Joseph) Ruscha or John Baldessari. Evidence, which was also exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1977, was made with photographs obtained from the United States Department of the Interior, the San Jose Police Department, Bechtel Corporation, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and other archives to which they had gained access through a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1977. Sultan was awarded three more National Endowment for the Arts Photography Fellowships, in ...

Article

Kelli Morgan

(b Camden, NJ, 1971).

American photographer, painter, and film maker.

Thomas received her BFA from the Pratt Institute in 2000 and her MFA from the Yale University School of Art in 2002. Following her graduate training she completed residencies at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Versailles Foundation Munn Artists Program in Giverny, France. She is best known for monumental photographs and paintings that fuse the aesthetics of 1970s styled domestic interiors, Blaxploitation film, Black Power ideologies, and Western portraiture. Explicitly feminist, Thomas’s imagery interweaves set and costume design, photography, collage, painting, and rhinestone ornamentation to explore the visual textures of Black women’s identities by illuminating the plasticity of concepts such as beauty, femininity, sexuality, subjectivity, and power. This thematic approach firmly situates Thomas within the lineage of Black feminist artists such as Faith Ringgold, Saar family, §1, Carrie Mae Weems, and Lorna Simpson, and among such contemporaries as Renee Cox, Kara Walker...

Article

Marco Livingstone

(b Brooklyn, NY, Nov 24, 1940).

American photographer. He studied painting and art history at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (1958–62), but by the mid-1960s was committed to photography. His first published work, for anthropological journals, resulted from travels in Mexico, Japan, India, Europe, Alaska and Africa. In 1971 a more personal direction was demonstrated in his portfolio Open Space in the Inner City, which pictures the inhabitants of New York in the squalor and decay of their environment. His first acclaimed book, The Dream Collector (Richmond, VA, 1972), consists of re-enactments of children’s dreams, showing elements of fantasy and the grotesque that he has continued to explore. In his later work he concentrated on theatrical and psychologically revealing studies of human relationships, for example in Theater of the Mind (New York, 1976), on homo-erotic fantasy in Facing Up (New York, 1980) and on the ritualistic aspects of contemporary life. His still-lifes and two major sequences, ...

Article

Celia Stahr

(b Phoenix, AZ, Aug 26, 1954).

Native American (Seminole–Muskogee–Diné (Navajo)) photographer, video and installation artist . While living on a Navajo reservation in the 1960s, Tsinhnahjinnie was prompted to think about the power of images after looking at A House of Human Bondage, which showed the poor living conditions that black South Africans were subjected to under the apartheid system, photographs that reminded her of the bleak existence of Native Americans. This led her to attend the Institute of American Indian Art from 1975 to 1978. She received a BFA from the California College of the Arts (1981) and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine (2002). She went on to teach at the University of California, Davis.

Realizing that Native Americans had been defined by photographs taken by non-Natives, Tsinhnahjinnie wanted to create photographs of Native Americans from an insider’s perspective; to reclaim her own culture, history and identity. In 1988...

Article

Susan Kart

(b Kaduna, Aug 15, 1967).

Nigerian multimedia artist, active in the USA. Tuggar studied in London before receiving her BFA from Kansas City Art Institute. She completed her MFA at Yale University. Tuggar’s work has been seen as central to the ‘Afro-Futurist’ style and theoretical impulse that gained currency in the mid-1990s as well as to a revitalized and globalized feminist discourse. Afro-futurism denotes the use of the historical past in conjunction with technological innovation to produce aesthetic explorations of the future, fantasy, and possibility for African cultures writ large.

Tuggar is best known for her digitally manipulated and printed collages of her own photographs with found images and text. Often she combined older, sometimes historical images with contemporary scenes and people, conflating past and present and thereby constructing the fantasy aspect of her work. In other instances disparate global spaces converge (Nigeria, the cultural ‘West’, the Middle East), setting up a contemporary investigation of colonialism and post-colonial global realities....

Article

Chika Okeke

(b Lagos, 1965).

Nigerian photographer, painter and installation artist , active in the USA. He attended Hunter College, City University of New York. In the 1980s he worked mainly as a painter but also collaborated with such New York artists as Carrie May Weems and Lyle Ashton Harris. In 1993 he developed his photographic work, dealing with issues of representation and urban life, particularly race, gender and sexual identity. His self-portraits, in which he wears women’s cosmetics, comment on assumptions about what constitutes gender identity, as in Woman in Egyptian Art (1996). They also reference the costume and make-up of Igbo ‘female’ masquerades, which are normally danced by men ( see Igbo §2 ). He also uses self-portraiture to criticize American culture. In his Cover Girl series (1994–9), for instance, he designed mock magazine covers for Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Condé Naste Traveller, making himself the cover girl. The ‘articles’ in these imaginary journals frequently address the West’s relation to Africa, for example, ‘Hysteria Over the Death of the Noble Savage’. Thus the ...

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

Reinhold Misselbeck

(b Basle, April 12, 1946).

Swiss photographer. He studied photography at the Gewerbeschule, Basle (1964–7). After being apprenticed to American photographer Will McBride (1931–2015) in Munich, he opened his own studio in Basle in 1970. From 1972 he worked for various magazines, such as Du, Camera, Time-Life and Playboy. His photographs were created in clearly defined phases, such as his ‘blue period’ with tinted prints (1973–5) or the ‘frame’ series (1975) of photographs in which a rectangular frame photographed inside the field of view became the parameter for a picture within a picture (e.g. Without Title, 1975; Basle, Antikenmus.). His best-known series of erotic self-presentations of women, with a wooden crate as a prop (1979–81), explored a similar principle. His photographs often implied reflections on the photograph itself, on its subject, its selection and the relationship between what was shown and what was left out....

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Vancouver, Sept 29, 1946).

Canadian photographer. After studying Fine Art at the University of British Columbia in the 1960s, Wall undertook a research degree in art history at the Courtauld Institute in London (1970–73). Returning to Vancouver in 1974, he began making the light-box mounted transparencies that became his signature works. The large, back-lit transparencies that Wall produced through the 1980s and 1990s explore contemporary Canadian life through the filter of a background in art history. Although staged around his native Vancouver, they contain numerous references to historical imagery. These works are characterized by their highly detailed, seamless construction as well as a feeling of unease, often grotesque discomfort. Picture for Women (1979) was an early statement of his intention to create contemporary equivalents for the powerful images of modern life painted in late 19th-century France by artists such as Edouard Manet and Gustave Caillebotte. By reference to Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère...

Article

Alexandra Noble

(b Greenburg, PA, March 29, 1946).

American photographer. He studied under Lisette Model and later became a major figure in international fashion photography. His best-known work derives from advertising assignments for the fashion designers Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Karl Lagerfeld, presenting the unique synthesis of an uncompromising personal vision with an interpretation of varied historical influences. His low-angle shots of men in heroic poses recall the images of Aryan youths made in the 1930s, while some of his studio portraits evoke the spirit of classic Hollywood portraiture. His work contains a highly charged eroticism and plays on sexual ambiguity, as for example in his photographic journal O Rio de Janiero (New York, 1986).

Weber, Bruce Per lui (Milan 1985) Branded Youth and Other Stories, text by M. Harrison and C. S. Smith (Boston, New York, Toronto and London, 1997) Bruce Weber Photographs (Pasadena, 1983) J. Cheim, ed.: Bruce Weber (New York, 1989)...

Article

Mary Chou

(b Portland, OR, April 20, 1953).

American photographer . Weems earned a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia in 1981 and a MFA from the University of California, San Diego, in 1984. From 1984 to 1987 she pursued graduate studies in folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. Weems is well known for integrating photographs, text and audio recordings in installations that explore themes of racism, gender, identity and family from a personal as well as cultural, national and historical perspective.

Weems’s first major work, Family Pictures and Stories (1978–84), is a family album with images of her relatives interspersed with printed anecdotes and interviews that mines the history of her own family—sharecroppers who moved from Mississippi to Oregon in the early 1950s—as well as the language, relationships and history of African American families in general. In her subsequent series, Ain’t Jokin’ (1987–8), she superimposed racist jokes, riddles and epithets onto portraits of African Americans with wit and humour in order to provoke and confront viewers with their own prejudices and racist attitudes. Another series, ...

Article

Margaret Barlow

(b Holyoke, MA, Feb 12, 1943).

American photographer, video artist, conceptual artist, sculptor, draughtsman and painter . He studied painting at the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA (BFA 1965), and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (MFA 1967). During these years he produced Minimalist sculptures and paintings. In the early 1970s he used video and photography, primarily as a means of documenting such conceptual works as Untied On Tied Off (1972), a photograph of the artist’s feet with one shoe on, untied, the other with the shoe tied to his ankle. These documents gave way to photographs that took on greater artistic qualities in terms of composition and technique, while he continued to use concepts and approaches seen in the earlier pieces (particularly irony, humour and satire on both popular culture and the high culture of contemporary art). He was most well known in the 1970s for his photographic and video works featuring his Weimaraner dog, Man Ray. By ...

Article

Camara Dia Holloway

(b Philadelphia, PA, Feb 5, 1948).

American photographer, curator and scholar. Willis was born in North Philadelphia to a hairdresser mother and a policeman father who was an amateur photographer. Within a familial and communal context, Willis learned that photographs could function as powerful statements of African American identity. These ideas were reinforced by reading her family’s copy of the publication The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955) that featured the photographs of Roy DeCarava, a major African American photographer. She also attended the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition, Harlem on My Mind in 1969. Willis earned a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1975 and an MFA from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1979. Inspired by the quilting and storytelling traditions in her family, Willis developed a practice that combined her photographs, family photographs and other elements into autobiographical quilts. Her later works focused more on the female body.

From 1980 to 1992...