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Article

Aaris Sherin

American digital type foundry and producer of printed material and graphic design software, which also produces the magazine Emigre. Founded in Sacramento, CA by Zuzana Licko (b Bratislava, 1961) and Rudy VanderLans (b The Hague, 1955), the company was responsible for some of the most recognizable and widely mimicked design and typography of the 1980s and 1990s. Emigre magazine was published and art directed by VanderLans with fonts designed by Licko. It continually challenged common conceptions of design while acting as a staging ground for the founders’ unconventional vision. The work of Licko and VanderLans has come to epitomize both the controversy and success associated with the digital revolution that occurred when Macintosh computers introduced designers to new ways of producing layouts and fonts.

Licko’s family moved to San Francisco from Czechoslovakia. She designed her first font for her father, a bio-mathematician who used the Greek alphabet for personal use. Licko studied visual communication at the University of California, Berkeley (...

Article

Alexandra Chang

Artists’ collective founded in 1982 by Bing Lee, Eric Chan (b 1975), Chung Kang Lok, Jerry Kwan (1934–2008), Ming Fay (b 1943) and Kwok, under the guiding principle of collaboration. Lee had also founded the Visual Arts Society in Hong Kong prior to Epoxy. While the original members had come to New York City’s downtown arts scene from Hong Kong, the collective ranged from four to eleven members and included artists from China, Canada and elsewhere, such as Zhang Hongtu (b 1943) and Andrew Culver (b 1953).

The group’s name originates from the epoxy resin gluing agent in which two different substances are blended to generate a third substance, which binds. The members felt that through collaboration, they could create projects that were singular to neither one nor the other member, and also suggest East and West cross-cultures. The group often worked with mixed-media, photocopied images, sound installation and projection, and dealt with topics concerning politics and religion....

Article

Michelle Yun

(b Belefonte, PA, Oct 19, 1969).

American painter. At the age of eight, she moved with her family to Columbus, OH, where Essenhigh studied, receiving a BFA from the Columbus College of Art and Design in 1991 and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1993. Essenhigh later married the artist Steve Mumford (b 1960).

Essenhigh is associated with a group of painters working in New York during the mid-1990s, including John Currin, Lisa Yuskavage, and Cecily Brown, who revitalized the practice of narrative painting. Essenhigh’s first mature series, Wallpaper for Boys and Wallpaper for Girls, were inspired by her job as a fabric designer of boxer-shorts patterns for Sears. These oversized paintings featured repetitious patterns of stereotypical gender specific imagery of boys and girls atop a monochrome field and constituted her first solo exhibition, in 1997 at La Mama La Galleria in New York. Her subsequent work up to 2001 is characterized by stylized, futuristic narratives that record the movement, through repetitive forms, of often fragmented, faceless, and headless anthropomorphic figures within a shallow, vacuous composition. These grotesque, surreal works were executed in enamel paint, which attracted her for its ability to be easily reworked and the fluidity and sheen of the finished surface....

Article

Eric Gottesman

(b Detroit, MI, June 28, 1951).

American photographer and educator. She grew up in Detroit, received a BA from Antioch College in 1974 and studied photography with Minor White at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In eastern Kentucky from 1976 to 1980, she taught photography at the Appalshop media cooperative. In her book Portraits and Dreams (1985), her photographs mingled with those made by her subjects, rural Appalachian children. The book both borrowed from and challenged the documentary tradition (see Documentary photography) and in the process invented a new form of portraying people and communities. This publication later spawned a field known as ‘participatory’ or ‘pluralist’ photography, where the photographer and subject share in photographic production. Ewald went on to complete projects around the world—in Colombia, India, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Mexico, Tanzania, Labrador, Israel, and the United States—that questioned photographic authority and blurred the lines between photographer and subject, art and education....

Article

The term ‘expressionism’ refers in general to the deliberate distortion and exaggeration of forms for expressive effect in artworks. It may also be used with reference to particular historical or cultural iterations—as in (most commonly) German Expressionism, which refers to specific artists and practices of the early 20th century (see Expressionism). Both approaches are useful in the context of American art history. For example, the expressive qualities of the work of such 19th-century artists as Albert Pinkham Ryder or George Inness have long been noted in histories of American art and artists. Attention has focused as well on groups of artists active at mid-century in America’s urban centres who adopted the term as a conscious description of themselves and their intentions.

Prior to 1914 Expressionism was understood more or less to be a synonym of Post-Impressionism, the somewhat ambiguous name coined by British art historian Roger Fry to describe a group of mostly French artists including Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, and Paul Gauguin. In the context of an early appearance in a ...

Article

Reena Jana

(b Cologne, Germany, 1969).

American mixed-media artist of German birth and Asian descent. Ezawa studied at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf (1990–94) before moving to San Francisco in 1994. He received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute (1995) and an MFA from Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA (2003). Ezawa is not a photographer, but his work centers around photography; he has used a variety of media, from digital animations to paper collages and aquatint prints, to revisit some of the world’s most familiar, infamous and historically significant news photographs, television broadcasts and motion-picture stills (see The Simpson Verdict). All of Ezawa’s work utilizes the artist’s signature style of flat, simple renderings that are cartoonlike and also suggest the streamlined and colorful style of Pop artist Katz, Alex.

Ezawa’s project, The History of Photography Remix (2004–6), exemplifies his approach to exploring the power of photographs as a mirror of reality and yet also a force that can manipulate memories of events and people. The project consists of images appropriated from art history textbooks, such as American photographer Cindy Sherman’s ...

Article

David Burnett

(b Huntsville, Ont., Dec 24, 1940).

Canadian sculptor. He studied from 1958 to 1964 at Beal Technical School in London, Ontario, and began working as a painter in that city in the mid-1960s. Soon, however, he questioned the relationship between life experience and traditional artistic methods, as a result of which he produced a wide range of constructions (representing guitars, aircraft and inventions) as well as installations using film or images projected from slides.

Such interests led Favro to engage in ambitious projects such as the Flying Flea (1976–7; Ottawa, N.G.), built from the plans of a light aircraft designed by Alfred Mignet in 1934, and Sabre Jet (1979–83; Ottawa, N.G.), a model just over half-scale that reproduces not only the form but also the construction methods of the original aircraft. For the latter sculpture he drew on childhood memories and also paid tribute, through the process itself, to the anonymous workers who built the original aeroplane. In ...

Article

Women have made art that deals with their status in society and with the range of economic, social, and psychological forms of oppression this may entail: such art, having political aspects, may be called feminist. It developed over the later 20th century from the early, and important, notion that ‘the personal is political’ toward a view that sees art as a means of exposing the myths of a patriarchal society, in particular the social construction of femininity.

The Women’s Movement (initially called Women’s Liberation), which began in the USA in the late 1960s, encouraged women to protest against discrimination within the art world, particularly the ludicrously small percentage of women included in major museum shows. The most important single event, however, was the setting up in 1971 of the first Feminist Art Program by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro at the California Institute of the Arts. Their exhibition Womanhouse involved the transformation of 17 rooms of an old house ‘to concretize the fantasies and oppressions of women’s experience’ (Lippard) and included a bridal staircase and a menstruation bathroom. It was important not only because the project was essentially collective but also because it challenged the stereotype that domesticity was inimical to art. Much of early feminist art practice was thus to do with celebrating femaleness as something positive and creative and by implication different from the careerist ambitions of mainstream male artists. The result was that separatism—a conscious decision to isolate themselves from male-dominated culture and only mount exhibitions for their own audiences—became a chosen policy for many feminists....

Article

Mary Christian

[Laurence]

(b New York, March 11, 1941).

American photographer. He studied photography privately with Lisette Model and with Alexey Brodovitch (1898–1971). In 1974 he began to photograph the élite at benefit galas and fashionable nightclubs in New York, for example Benefit, the Museum of Modern Art, June 1977 (see Fink, 1984, p. 23). After he moved to rural Martin’s Creek, PA, in 1980, his photography of social celebrations focused on the unmannered directness of his neighbours at family parties, such as Pat Sabatine’s Twelfth Birthday Party, May 1981 (see Fink, 1984, pp. 76–7, 79), and county fairs. His use of a hand-held flash sharply lit the faces of his subjects, and, with the high contrast that he favoured in his developing, the fleeting animation of his subjects’ gestures and expressions was intensified.

Fink, Larry Social Graces (Millerton, 1984; 2/New York, 2001)...

Article

Marco Livingstone

(b New York, March 9, 1948).

American painter, draughtsman and printmaker. After completing his BFA at the California Institute of Arts in Valencia, CA, in 1972, he taught from 1974 to 1978 at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, NS. In 1978 he returned to New York and began to produce paintings in a naturalistic style of uncomfortably intimate scenes of middle-class suburban existence and burgeoning sexuality, as in Master Bedroom (1983; Los Angeles, CA, Mus. Contemp. A.), in which a nearly naked girl in hair-curlers kneels on a double bed with her arms around a large dog. By depicting the figures larger than life, he placed the viewer in the role of a child, exaggerating the psychological force of the situations by presenting them as if retrieved from memory. The historical lineage proposed by critics for the bravura technique of these works includes the paintings of Manet, Balthus and Edward Hopper, but the clear reliance on photography suggests a debt to the Photorealism of the 1960s. Perhaps to counter the misapprehension of his pictures as Neo-Expressionist, in the mid-1980s Fischl exaggerated their formal quality by fragmenting the image on to a series of separate panels overlapping at different angles, as in ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Philadelphia, PA, Jan 14, 1939).

American painter. Fishman is an abstract painter who came of age at the end of the 1960s when Abstract Expressionism was the dominant mode of painting and the Women’s Movement was gaining momentum. She attended the Philadelphia College of Art, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, eventually receiving her BFA and BS degree from Tyler School of Fine Arts. There she received two senior prizes—the First Painting Prize, Student Exhibit, Tyler School of Art, and the Bertha Lowenberg Prize for the Senior Woman to Excel in Art (1963). She went on to receive her MFA from University of Illinois in Champaign (1965); that same year, she relocated to New York City. She received numerous grants and fellowships, including National Endowment for the Arts grants (1975–6; 1983–4; 1994); a Guggenheim Fellowship in Painting (1979); a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire (...

Article

Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander

(b Santa Maria, CA, Sept 19, 1967).

Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander

American social practice artist.

He was awarded a BFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1990 and an MFA from California College of the Arts in 1994. Not confined to any particular media, his work is characterized by its collaborative, socially engaged, and interdisciplinary nature; the thematic focus of his art ranges from exploring personal narratives to engaging with larger global conflicts. In addition to his formal artistic training he also received a certification in Ecological Horticulture at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studied organic farming. His interest in agriculture is a reflection of his larger involvement with communities and food systems, and has manifested in his work as both an artist and a pedagogue through the establishment of an outdoor classroom at an organic farm with his students at Portland State University, where he established the second MFA programme in social practice in the USA. His work often challenges notions of the ‘passive viewer’ or ‘singular artist’, by creating projects that are generated primarily by viewer/artist interaction. Fletcher instead acts as a kind of facilitator; for example, for ...

Article

Sandra Sider

Folk art, or vernacular art (specific to a group or place), developed in Colonial America out of necessity when individual households produced most of the utilitarian objects required for daily life. Using traditional tools and techniques, many of these makers created pieces in which aesthetics came to play a substantial role, through form, ornamentation, or both. In some groups, notably the Shakers, function was emphasized, with pure form evoking an aesthetic and spiritual response. Religious beliefs have informed American folk art, such as the saints and other figures (Santos) carved and painted by Catholic settlers in the Southwest as early as 1700. Although the majority of folk art is now anonymous, the oeuvre of numerous individual artists can be determined by their distinctive styles or marks. Folk art is often considered within the field of ‘material culture’, with an emphasis on the object’s context rather than its creator. Most American folk art falls within three categories: painting and cut paper, textiles and fibre, and three-dimensional work such as furniture, carvings, metalwork, ceramics, and outdoor installations....

Article

W. Jackson Rushing III

(b Sacramento, CA, Jan 5, 1946; d Santa Fe, NM, Dec 28, 2006).

Native American painter, printmaker and sculptor of Maidu, Hawaiian and Portuguese ancestry. Raised in Northern California, Fonseca studied at Sacramento City College and at California State University at Sacramento with Wintu artist Frank LaPena (b 1937). A leading figure in the national network of contemporary native artists that formed in the early to mid-1970s, Fonseca received the Best of Show Award in the Indian Art Now exhibition at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Sante Fe, NM, in 1979. Many honors followed, including the Allan Houser Memorial Award and an Eiteljorg Museum Fellowship for Native American Fine Art, both in 2005. Inspired by mythology, pictography and modernism, he explored oral history, media imagery and popular culture through figuration and abstraction.

Fonseca’s earliest imagery transformed indigenous designs and material culture. His Maidu Creation Story (1977) was the first of several treatments (1991, 2006) of subject matter based on the teachings of his uncle, Henry Azbill. The quiet, folkish elegance and pristine primitivism of his drawings for the anthology ...

Article

Christian F. Otto

(b Düsseldorf, 1921; d Santa Fe, NM, Oct 6, 2012).

American architect of German birth. Franzen was a major figure of the first postwar generation of American architects, among them Paul Rudolph, Harry Cobb, John M(aclane) Johansen, and Philip Johnson. Franzen immigrated with his family to the United States in 1936. His architectural training and experience was shaped by modernists: Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (Franzen received his MArch in 1948), I. M. Pei (Franzen worked for Pei from 1950–55), and Mies van der Rohe (especially his Chicago architecture). He founded his own firm, Ulrich Franzen and Associates, in 1955.

Franzen has characterized his work as “collage architecture”: designs that combine diverse forms and qualities. He felt that the first condition of building was “the simultaneous solution of opposites” (as Alvar Aalto defined architecture). From the work of Mies van der Rohe he learned the discipline of precise detail and exacting proportion. Louis Kahn’s architecture offered the concept of served and servant spaces. Similarly, Franzen’s buildings explore open, continuous space, a plenitude of natural light, transparencies between interior and exterior, articulated structure and minimal, undecorated form. But Franzen also expanded the modernist palate to include traditional as well as industrial materials, and in place of unitary form, he promoted an architecture enriched by “acknowledging the antagonism between form and purpose and ambiguities of reality.”...

Article

Andrew Cross

(b St Louis, MO, 1965).

American sculptor. At the heart of Friedman’s idiosyncratic work is a denial that art must be grand in scale in order to be large in meaning. Profoundly antiheroic, formally diminutive and whimsical in choice of materials, his delicate small scale works are an assertion that focus and concentration, rather than size and ambition, can determine the scope of an artwork. He started exhibiting soon after completing an MFA in Sculpture at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1990. His work was positively received as a refreshing alternative to what could be seen as the slick production values of American art during the 1980s. Reminiscent of the process-oriented Minimalism of the 1970s, Friedman’s work was infused with a content that could be as humorous as it was serious. Untitled (1990), an early work in the form of a perfectly smooth 5-inch diameter ball of chewed gum, hinted at an earnestness in Minimal art by using the more derogatory cultural reference of the gum-chewing kid. Friedman always used prosaic objects, such as rubber bands, soap and drinking straws, as his sculptural materials. Through such neglected and commonplace things he explored themes of much greater import, turning the accumulation of almost imperceptible gestures into something surprisingly grandiose. These include ...

Article

Michelle Yun

(b Manila, 1954).

Filipino filmmaker and photographer, active in the USA. Fuentes received a BA in Anthropology and Behavioral Science in 1974 from the De La Salle University in Manila. The following year he traveled to the United States to study at the Wharton School of Business, Philadelphia, PA, receiving an MBA in 1977. In 1981, he moved to Washington, DC to study Photography at the Corcoran School of Art under Mark Power. Fuentes subsequently received a Presidential Fellowship in 1991 from Temple University to pursue a MFA in Film and Video.

Fuentes began his artistic practice as a photographer and is best known in this medium for two series, Circle of Fear (1981–91) and Face Fusion (1986–9). These two bodies of work initially sprang from the artist’s feeling of disconnection towards both his Filipino roots and his adopted home in America. The Circle of Fear works incorporate a syncretic mix of Filipino folk culture with Western iconography to create fetishistic still lifes with a Post-modern gothic sensibility. ...

Article

Monica McTighe

(b London, 1961).

British photographer, active also in America. Fuss worked with historical photographic processes to produce personal symbolic images with themes such as birth, death, and spirituality. He was born in 1961 in London and spent his childhood in Australia and England. His father died when Fuss was a child. As a student, he became interested in nature and science, themes that emerged in his images. He began as an apprentice at a commercial photography firm in Sydney. Settling later in New York City, he worked as an exhibition photographer and became interested in pinhole photography. He produced a series of pinhole images of Classical sculptures in museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the British Museum in London after dark. In the 1990s he made photograms, recording images of ripples on the surface of a pool. Using flashlights suspended over the photosensitive surface, he made abstract images that hint at natural rhythms. His photograms of infants partially submerged in water and snakes swimming through water suggested a connection with religious iconography. His best-known works in this series are titled ...

Article

Joseph R. Givens

(b Los Angeles, CA, April 19, 1945).

American art dealer. Gagosian is considered a catalyst for the globalization of the art market. Raised in Los Angeles by a middle-class family, Gagosian did not recall visiting an art museum until he was in college. After studying literature at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), from 1963 to 1969 he worked in several entry-level office jobs before making the transition to entrepreneur with a kitsch poster business near UCLA. Within a year, Gagosian transformed the poster business into a frame shop and art gallery, and over the course of the following three decades, he became the sole owner of a powerful art empire.

Realizing the limited sales potential in Los Angeles, he moved to New York and opened a gallery in SoHo with business partner Annina Nosei. In 1980 he returned to Los Angeles and arranged shows that rivalled New York dealers, including a notorious Jean-Michel Basquiat residency in April of ...

Article

Francis Summers

(b Providence, RI, Dec 16, 1965).

American painter, collagist and draughtsman. She studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Skowhegan School of Arts, ME, graduating in 1993. Using very minimal means, her pictures can be viewed in both straightforward formal terms and in terms of a political and culturally specific visual language linked to her identity as an African American woman. Her characteristic works consist of lined paper (of the kind used by school children) glued onto canvas and superimposed with images of eyes and lips. These symbolic body parts, which function as her trademark motifs, are taken from the American minstrel tradition; she has described them as evidence of language in motion, an example of the process that creates stereotypes. In Untitled (1996; priv. col., see 1998 Ikon Gal. exh. cat., p. 21), for example, the eyes and lips flood rhythmically across the lined picture surface in a process of aggregation. Although she uses a variety of structures and devices in her paintings, through a process of accumulation and subtraction the body parts are repeated in rhythms that suggest entrapment and diffusion. In ...