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Bernice Murphy

(b Sydney, July 19, 1945).

Australian conceptual and performance artist, film maker and writer. He began writing poetry as a student at Queensland University (1965–6). Although he attended the National Art School at Darlinghurst, Sydney (1968), he was largely self-taught as an artist. He first became known for his conceptual works, filmed actions and performances and typescript pieces in 1971–2, when he ran Inhibodress, an alternative art space in Sydney, with artist Peter Kennedy (b 1945). In 1972 he travelled abroad for the first time for about a year, making Vienna his base (as he did again in 1977–8). In 1973 he carried out performances in Lausanne and Neuchâtel, Switzerland. These works (and the associated filmed record) were collectively entitled Performances, Actions, Video Systems and developed out of previous Sydney works: Word Situations (1971) and Idea Demonstrations (1971–2).

On returning to Australia Parr incorporated recent filmed records of performances into much larger, autobiographical film projects that occupied most of his artistic energy for ten years, producing three substantial, experimental films: ...


Morgan Falconer

(b Redhill, Surrey, May 26, 1970).

English conceptual artist. He studied at Goldsmiths’ College in London (1989–92) and quickly established himself in the mid-1990s with a highly formalist conceptual art concerned with issues relating to sign systems, copies, perception and representation. Diptych (1995; see 1996 exh. cat.), one of his earliest pieces, renders the symbols of two road signs on separate small cushions. Carcass (dissected map in acrylic case, 2×1.1×0.4 m, 1995; London, Saatchi Gal.) is a map of England, Wales and Scotland, turned upside down and suspended in a clear box, from which everything has been painstakingly cut out apart from major motorways and arterial roads. Such works typify one thread of investigation within his practice, which concerns our ability to recognize common symbols even when they are altered. He explored this further in a series of pieces with national flags, such as Commune (1998; see 2000 exh. cat., p. 34), which consists of 31 flags whose individual markings remain conventional, but whose colours are all a uniform dark red. Parsons also explored issues surrounding mark-making and abstraction: these came together with his interest in sign systems in the painting ...


Matthew Gale


(b Bari, Oct 19, 1935; d Rome, Sept 11, 1968).

Italian sculptor, conceptual artist and stage designer. He was profoundly influenced by his childhood in occupied Tiranë, Albania (1940–41), and in coastal Polignano. After a period at the Liceo Artistico, Naples, he studied scenography at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Rome (1955–9), where he met Jannis Kounellis. After graduating Pascali supported himself as a graphic designer and television set designer (1960–64). This commercial work allowed him to experiment with large-scale projects while maintaining his contacts with Kounellis, Mario Schifano and others, although he refrained from exhibiting. Pascali’s first one-man show was at Galleria La Tartaruga, Rome (1965). While influenced by Enrico Castellani’s abstract works, such shaped and formed canvases as Red Lips, Homage to Billie Holiday (1964; Turin, Gal. Civ. A. Mod.) reflected the humour and concern with contemporary culture found in American Pop art, which had featured in the Venice Biennale of ...


Nancy Ring

(b Turin, April 3, 1947).

Italian sculptor and conceptual artist. He created his earliest works in a forest outside Garessio in 1968. He marked his presence there with an iron hand gripping a tree trunk (see 1978 exh. cat., p. 33); trees pierced by nails and laced with metal wire; and a plaster slab measuring his width and height and the depth of a brook. The works revealed his interest in establishing points of contact between man and nature. A member of the Arte Povera group, he continued throughout his career to explore the connections between natural and cultural forms. In 12-meter Tree (1969; Stockholm, Mod. Mus.), one of a series, he carefully carved into a beam of wood to recover the original form of a tree, leaving part of the beam untouched to signify its status as a manmade object.

In the early 1970s Penone used his body as his principal subject, projecting images drawn from the surface of his skin on to plaster casts of his face or on to wall surfaces (see ...


James Smalls

(b New York, Sept 20, 1948).

African American conceptual and performance artist. Piper graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in painting and sculpture from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1969. While continuing to produce and exhibit her artwork, she received a BA in Philosophy from the City College of New York in 1974. During 1977–8, Piper studied Kant and Hegel at the University of Heidelberg and earned a PhD in Philosophy from Harvard University in 1981. She taught philosophy at Georgetown, Harvard, the University of Michigan, Stanford, and the University of California, San Diego. Her principal publications have been in meta-ethics, Kantian metaphysics, and the history of ethics. These interests also influenced her art. In 1987 she became the first tenured African American woman professor in the field of philosophy at Wellesley College and, through numerous scholarly books and articles, began to present her ideas through performance art, photography, and video....


Matthew Gale

(b Bari, June 14, 1938).

Italian sculptor, performance designer and conceptual artist. He abandoned architectural studies in Naples in the late 1950s to immerse himself in Rosicrucianism. In Rome, Pisani undertook conceptual analyses of the work of Robert Motherwell (1960–65) and of Marcel Duchamp (1965–70). The results were first seen in 1970 in the show Maschile, femminile e androgino: Incesto e cannibalismo in Marcel Duchamp (Rome, Gal. Salita), in which he presented such psychoanalytically informed objects as Chocolate Cast of Suzanne Duchamp (1965; see 1970 exh. cat., p. 19). Pisani won the Premio Pino Pascali (1970) and began to participate in Arte Povera and to collaborate with Michelangelo Pistoletto. He drew parallels between artistic and alchemical activity, placing himself alongside Duchamp, Yves Klein and Joseph Beuys; the latter was the subject of the repetitive performance piece The Rabbit Does Not Like Joseph Beuys (1975; Rome, Gal. Sperone). The symbolic cruciform structure of the performance ...


Sérgio B. Martins

(b Tiradentes, Jul 11, 1980).

Brazilian multimedia artist. Early in his career, Rocha Pitta practiced mainly photography, but soon turned to projects in which original and found images become juxtaposed with materials as diverse as earth, stone, food, newspapers cutouts, car parts, and cement. His interest lay not in the substantive sculptural quality of materials, but rather in their capacity to signify circulation, apprehension, conversion, and communal use, depending on the situation. His work often pits the commodity form against different conceptions of use and display drawn from universes as diverse as police photographs and religious art.

Provisional Heritage (2010), exhibited both at Sprovieri Gallery, London, and at the 29th Bienal de São Paulo, comprises photographs and a film recording the pouring of the contents of cans of expired tomato soup and coffee drink found at an abandoned factory in East London. The liquids act as tokens of failed commodity circulation in an area that was itself caught between dereliction and real-estate speculation. Failed monumentality is also a recurrent topic in his work. ...


Catherine M. Grant

(b Reggio nell’Emilia, 1940).

Italian conceptual, video and installation artist. He studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Venice and in 1968 began to make conceptual works using water as the key element. These photo documents and experimental videos, such as Reflecting Water (1979; see 1998 exh. cat., p. 41), used water as a symbolic substance, a motif that has continued throughout his career. In the mid-1980s, Plessi began to make large-scale video installations: Roma (1987; exh. at Documeta 8, Kassel) consisted of a circle of video monitors with a conveyor belt dropping imaginary stones into the image of water on the monitors, the stones becoming ‘visible’ as they appeared falling into the water, with the sound of splashing continuing the illusion. This playing with video imagery to evoke actual movement or reflection is central to Plessi’s manipulation of the viewer’s expectations. During the late 1980s and 1990s, Plessi travelled widely, an experience that informed many of his video installations during this period, such as ...


Francis Summers

(b Galesburg, IL, 1954).

American conceptual artist. He studied at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, completing his BFA in 1977, and at California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA, completing his MFA in 1980. He set himself the task of investigating structures of knowledge and dissemination, whether that information was a recording of an Arnold Schoenberg performance as in his A Structural Analysis and Reconstruction of MS7098 as Determined by the Difference between Measurements of Duration and Displacement (1980–84; see 1989 exh. cat., pp. 13–14), or the foundation of Western philosophy, as in the case of Aristotle – Plato – Socrates (1982; Los Angeles, CA, Mus. Contemp. A.). Instead of attempting to create something self-evidently new, Prina investigated works produced by other artists that had become so familiar as to be engrained into the cultural consciousness almost as a whole work, rather than as a series of individual works. He expounded this notion in the series ...


Jorge Glusberg

(b Buenos Aires, May 2, 1952).

Argentine painter. His production is multi-faceted, although his point of departure was in conceptual art. Such paintings as King Kong (1984; see Glusberg, 1986, p. 122) at first seem merely decorative—series of arabesques and squares with similar motifs and colours—but closer inspection reveals that they are a distinct expression of the new figuration. There is no repetition in the series of contiguous figures, they are traces of a creative process that subverts established canons and gives rise to new images. Prior develops his motifs with complete freedom, demonstrating that unexpected juxtapositions can transform a series of informal marks into an ideological structure. His images of buildings, some recognizable, show that the new figuration does not preclude historical references: in fact the creative process is related to traditional motifs, especially Aztec. Prior’s works are linked to a strong indigenous Latin American tradition, although he employs the international language of contemporary art. In ...


Mitra Monir Abbaspour

(b Chbanieh, June 15, 1967).

Lebanese conceptual artist, photographer, video and performance artist active also in America. Raad received his BFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1989, and completed his MA and PhD in Cultural and Visual Studies at the University of Rochester in 1993 and 1996, respectively, and in 2002 became an associate professor at the Cooper Union School in New York. History and its representation, narration, and memory are the central themes of Raad’s work. His experience of the Lebanese wars between 1975 and 1991 and their ongoing effects inform his inquiries into the methods of historical documents.

Raad began contending with narratives of the Lebanese wars in a series of short video documentaries that included Up to the South (1993)–a collaboration with Lebanese artist Jayce Salloum (b 1958)—and Missing Lebanese Wars (1996). Characteristic of his later practice, these videos critically employ a genre (documentary film) associated with factual reportage, foregrounding the relationship between subject and method of the work....


Paula J. Birnbaum

(b Brooklyn, NY, April 30, 1943).

American conceptual artist. Reichek earned a BFA from Yale University and a BA from Brooklyn College, where she studied painting with Ad Reinhardt. Well versed in the traditions of modernist painting, Reichek began critiquing those traditions in the 1970s by making art using the vehicles of embroidery, knitting, and weaving. She then engaged in a range of large-scale installation projects that retool domestic media and formats to analyse the patriarchal and modernist assumptions of American culture. In her series of samplers, including Sampler (Kruger/Holzer) (1998; priv. col.), Reichek placed post-modern media-related art within a long history of alphabetic Samplers, a decorative form of needlework long practised by American and European women to demonstrate skill as well as exercise instructional aphorisms. Reichek’s samplers also strategically reference the rectilinear grid as structuring principle in abstract painting, revealing the artist’s interest in recurring patterns of representation of both image and text....


J. Harwood

(b Barranquilla). Colombian painter and conceptual artist. Rodríguez trained in the Escuela de Bellas Artes at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá from 1964 to 1969. Between 1970 and 1972 she gained an MFA from Yale University, where she studied painting under Al Held and Lester Johnson. Although her early training was informed by Pop art, Rodríguez’s use of semi-abstract forms and bold contrasting colors, inspired by Colombia’s natural environment, often resulted in her work being stereotyped as “tropical.” The fantastic landscapes produced by the combining of these painted elements with added objects such as photographs or plastic toys earned her a reputation as a Surrealist. Within these imaginary landscapes mundane objects become magical, while the titles of such compositions hint at their deeper conceptual meaning. In later years, such additions figured more prominantly in Rodríguez’s canvases, as in Landscape with Red Live Tree (1990; Colchester, U. Essex, Coll. Latin Amer. A.), where the center of the work is occupied by a small cupboard containing a photograph of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, watched over by a plastic toucan’s beak. These objects also relate to the artist’s parallel production of Magic Boxes, small, brightly painted montages that recall the popular art of Colombia in their use of color. Both interior and exterior surfaces are adorned with an assortment of everyday objects through which these boxes emerge as both dreamlike worlds and reflections on the complexity of modern Latin American life....


Francis Summers

(b Cleveland, OH, Jan 5, 1944).

American conceptual artist. He studied at the Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, CA, completing his BFA in 1967. Involved in the early conceptualist movement, Ruppersberg soon applied a story-telling thread to his work, often using direct and uncomplicated language, such as his banner sized Wave Goodbye to Grandma (1970; see 1996 exh. cat., p. 37). Ruppersberg worked as a researcher, uncovering facts and then representing these as a fiction, interweaving mystery with the ordinary, as shown in his video work A Lecture on Houdini (for Terry Allen) (1973; see 1985 exh. cat., pp. 67–73). Applying literary allusions to his practice, as well as a sense of humour reminiscent of the work of the Argentinian writer Jorges Luis Borges (1899–1986), he made a series of works where photographs were illustrated by text, with the text often functioning as an independent and misleading element, as in To Tell the Truth...


Eduardo Serrano

(b Bogotá, Aug 12, 1941).

Colombian sculptor, collagist, and conceptual artist. He studied architecture at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá from 1959 to 1965 and began at this time to make collages influenced by Pop art. In 1966 he made the first of his Boxes, painted in strong flat colors, often red or yellow, to which he affixed industrial elements such as telephone handsets. Soon afterwards he began to make only white boxes, using the color to complement the mystery of the objects they contained, such as the heads, arms, and legs of dolls, machine parts, wooden eggs, and domestic objects; the penetrating humor and arbitrariness with which he juxtaposed such things recalled the spirit of Dada.

In the 1970s Salcedo became involved for a time with conceptual art in mordantly critical and irreverent works, such as The National Coat of Arms (1973; Bogotá, Mus. A. Mod.). He subsequently returned, however, to sculptural objects, bringing together two or more previously unconnected elements into an unsuspected poetic unity when assembled. These in turn gave way to works concerned with the representation of water, for example a group of saw-blades aligned in wavelike patterns or rectangles of glass arranged to resemble rain. Some of these included human figures, bringing to bear a sense of solitude and anxiety that added to their poetry and suggestiveness....



Matthew Gale

[Mangione, Salvatore]

(b Leoforte, Sicily, May 22, 1947).

Italian conceptual artist and painter. After participating in the revolutionary activities of 1968, he produced works that were associated with the conceptual wing of Turinese Arte Povera when shown at the Galleria Sperone (1970). In 12 Self-portraits (photomontages, 1969; New York, John Weber Gal.) Salvo pasted a picture of himself into newspaper photographs of Cuban revolutionaries, Nazi troops and factory workers. He assumed the burden of the complexity of history on various levels: fables, in handwritten manuscripts (e.g. Salvo in Wonderland, 1971; Paris, Yvon Lambert priv. col.); memorials, in marble inscriptions of great figures ending in his own name (e.g. 40 Names, 1971); and nationalism, in the neon ‘Salvo’ in the colours of the Italian flag, Tricolore (1971; Cologne, Paul Maenz priv. col.; all in 1977 exh. cat., pp. 29, 31 and 35).

Strategies of exploration through self-representation were shared by such contemporaries as Boetti and Anselmo, and Salvo exhibited alongside them in ...


(b Groningen, July 1, 1942).

Dutch conceptual artist, film maker and television actor. He started to experiment with different coloured smoke in 1957. From the 1960s he was active as a Fluxus composer. In 1961 with Ger van Elk and the photographer Bob Wesdorp he founded the Adynamische Groep, which primarily reacted against post-war Expressionism. In 1962 he was given an exhibition at the Fodor Museum, Amsterdam, for which he covered the floor of a room with a 100 mm layer of salt and another with a few tonnes of broken glass. In pursuit of performance art, in 1963 he instigated a happening: he emptied a bottle of lemonade in the sea outside Petten, an action broadcast by Dutch television. In the same year he made a television programme about contemporary art (e.g. Fluxus, Pop art, Zero). Also in 1963 the fire brigade banned the performance of his Economic Concert (1958), which consisted of one single explosion on stage. Two years later he displayed a 5 m high purple chair in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam and organized an exhibition called ...


Amy Rosenblum Martín

(b Rio Grande do Sul, Mar 5, 1968).

Brazilian conceptual artist, filmmaker, and writer, active in the USA. Schneider’s art practice revealed, questioned, and often restructured the social aspects of art. She studied at the Universidade Federal of Rio Grande do Sul, where she earned a BFA; New York University, where she graduated with an MFA; and the European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland, which she left before completing her doctorate in philosophy. In 1997 in New York she co-founded Union Gaucha Productions, an artist-run experimental film company that collaborated with people across disciplines. Later, in New York’s Lower East Side, Schneider co-founded Orchard gallery (2005–2008), a cooperatively organized exhibition and event space, then CAGE (2010–2014), a space for social and political gathering that created and expanded opportunities for art to exist beyond physical objects.

Art and theory were inseparable for Schneider, who considered her artwork a thinking process. Although her practice sometimes involved exhibiting real or virtual art objects or installations, she focused on art as social experience. She believed that a work’s meaning emerged from the dialogues that occurred between artist, viewer, and history—personal, political, and cultural. Her projects included leading collaborations, political movements, and radio stations, as well as designing a playground and creating other venues for gathering....


Martin Heller

(b Basle, May 16, 1945).

Swiss painter, conceptual artist and installation artist. After training as a photographer he had his first successes exhibiting works on panels derived from Pop art (1967–9). These were followed by further conceptual works and installations. In 1969 he had his first one-man show at the Galerie Toni Gerber, Berne, and made important contributions to the exhibitions When Attitudes Become Form, held in 1969 at the Kunsthalle, Berne, and Documenta 5 in Kassel, Germany, in 1972. In 1971 he began to paint while continuing to produce three-dimensional objects (e.g. Amore; see 1986 exh. cat.). In these early works his affinity with popular and dilettante aesthetics, kitsch, trivia, and ‘do-it-yourself’ bricolage is evident. As a summation of such interests, in 1976–8 he created Apocalypso, an enormous picture on fabric that he considered a kind of ‘world view’. In the 1980s Schnyder systematically expanded and intensified his knowledge of painting and revived such traditional genres as animal painting and, particularly, landscape painting. Several small-scale series (e.g. ...


Francis Summers

(b Midland, MI, Aug 8, 1952).

American painter, draughtsman, sculptor and conceptual artist. Rejecting the notion of a signature style, he instead occupies other styles in a chameleon-like way. Rather than taking codified notions of ‘pop’ culture as was done by the previous generation of American artists, or appropriating wholesale images or objects, in the manner of the New York Neo-Geo artists, Shaw has developed a methodology of mimicking styles and incorporating them into his encyclopaedically deranged projects. His primary interest seems to be in the overlooked creative production of the American public at large, as is attested to by his collection of thrift-store paintings, which he showed in both galleries and museums.

Inspired by the cut-up technique used by the American novelist William S. Burroughs, in his first major project, My Mirage (1986–91), Shaw used a fragmented and hallucinatory narrative to chart the changing psyche of his alter-ego Billy, charting his development from adolescence, through his discovery of sex and drugs, to his subsequent fall and finally to his rebirth through organized religion. In this project, Shaw kept each of the works to a standardized size (17×14 in.) in order to give cohesion to images produced in a wide variety of styles. Such works as ...