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Article

Aurélie Verdier

(b Saïda, Algeria, 1953).

French painter, sculptor, photographer, film maker, writer and installation artist of Algerian birth. Born to Spanish parents, he was much affected by North African as well as Southern European culture. He trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre. Despite a pervasive and diverse use of media, Alberola often stressed the coexistence of his different artistic practices as leading to painting alone. His paintings relied heavily on evocative narratives, at once personal and ‘historical’. Alberola conceived of his role as a storyteller, on the model of African oral cultures. Convinced that narratives could not be renewed, he argued that a painter’s main task was to reactivate his work through contact with his pictorial heritage. The main points of reference for his paintings of the early 1980s were Velázquez, Manet or Matisse, whose works he quoted in a personal way. In the early 1980s he undertook a series of paintings inspired by mythological subjects, which he combined with his own history as the principal subject-matter of his work. The biblical story of Susannah and the Elders as well as the Greek myth of Actaeon provided his most enduring subjects, both referring to the act of looking as taboo, as in ...

Article

Kevin Mulhearn

(b Johannesburg, 1959).

South African sculptor and installation and multimedia artist. Though Alexander trained as a sculptor at the University of the Witwatersrand, earning a Bachelor in Fine Arts in 1982 and a Masters in 1988, she nevertheless pursued a variety of artistic disciplines, regularly employing photomontage and sometimes using video in her practice. While working towards her Masters’ degree, she produced Butcher Boys (1985–6), an iconic work from this contentious era in South African history. The sculptural tableau presents three monstrous, grey nude male figures built from plaster over a gauze core and glazed with oil paint. Seated casually on a bench, their heads strikingly combine human and animal forms, with twisting horns and sealed-up mouths. While Butcher Boys, like many of the artist’s works, responded to its socio-historical context, Alexander typically has not produced explicitly political work or supplied interpretive statements, preferring pieces to remain open-ended in their meanings....

Article

Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy

American installation artists, active also in Puerto Rico. Jennifer Allora (b Philadelphia, Mar 20, 1974) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Richmond, Virginia (1996), and Guillermo Calzadilla (b Havana, Cuba, Jan 10, 1971) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Escuela de Artes Plastica in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1996). Allora and Calzadilla met in Italy in 1995 during a study abroad program in Florence. They then lived together in San Juan for a year before moving to New York City where they started working collaboratively while each participated in different residency and study programs. In 1998–1999, Allora participated in the year-long Whitney Independent Study Program, while Calzadilla participated in the P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center National Studio Program.

Allora & Calzadilla’s first important international exhibition was the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo in 1998 curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, which investigated the idea of cultural cannibalism known in Brazilian literature as ...

Article

Carol Magee

revised by Kimberly Bobier

(b Luanda, 1963).

Angolan sculptor, installation artist, and curator. Alvim began exhibiting internationally in the 1980s, at such shows as Africus, the 1995 Johannesburg Biennale; the 1997 Bienal de Havana; and Dak’Art ’98. His mixed-media pieces are powerful, haunting works through which he explores the memories and scars left by the trauma of growing up in a war-torn country. He generally evokes life in Luanda: displaced peoples, failed hopes, the patchwork organization of the urban space. In his overwhelmingly dark scenes, neon light illuminates found objects surrounded by canvas or metal, often superimposed with photographic images, creating a psychological intensity. Crosses, skulls, and maps predominate in his work of the early 1990s. In 1997 he collaborated with Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa and South African artist Gavin Younge in a project that brought them to Cuito Canaval, a Cuban-Angolan community and former battle site, to comment on the devastating effects of war suffered there. This sojourn resulted in a touring multimedia exhibition ...

Article

Chika Okeke-Agulu

(b Cairo, May 22, 1963).

American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (1991). She subsequently moved to New York. She is best known for her canvases in which paint and embroidery are combined to explore themes of love, desire, sexuality, and women’s identity in a patriarchal world. Amer’s use of Embroidery, historically regarded as a genteel female craft, to create images of women fulfilling their sexual desires without inhibition, recalls the provocations and strategies of 1970s Western feminist art. However, her work also reflects her alarm at the incremental curbing of women’s social and political freedoms in her native Egypt following the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, especially after the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser ended in ...

Article

Lisa M. Binder

(b Anyako, Ghana, June 13, 1944).

Ghanaian sculptor, active in Nigeria. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sculpture (1968) and a postgraduate diploma in art education from the University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana (1969). After graduation he taught at the Specialist Training College (now University of Winneba), Ghana, in a position vacated by the eminent sculptor Vincent Kofi. From 1975 he was Professor of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Anatsui’s practice often makes use of found objects including bottle caps, milk-tins and cassava graters. However, he is not concerned with recycling or salvaging; instead he seeks meaning in the ways materials can be transformed to make statements about history, culture and memory.

His early work consists of ceramic sculptures manipulated to reconfigure pieces of memory. In 1978 he began his Broken Pots series, which was exhibited the following year at the British Council in Enugu, Nigeria. Several of the ceramic works were made of sherds that were fused together by a grog-like cement of broken pieces. Making art historical references to ...

Article

Robert Saltonstall Mattison

(b Saint Nicholas, Nov 1, 1926; d New York, NY, Aug 17, 2013).

American sculptor and installation artist of Greek birth. Known for his neon environments, he has used light over five decades to explore spatial and temporal relationships. Settling with his family in New York in 1930, he graduated from Brooklyn Community College in 1947. Through the 1950s, he experimented with assemblage and was interested in Abstract Expressionism as well as Arte Povera. In 1960, he began to design neon configurations for interior spaces. While the geometry of his forms recalls emerging Minimalism, the richly glowing colors in such works as Red Box over Blue Box (1973; La Jolla, CA, Mus. Contemp. A.) are sensuous and emotionally evocative, thus differentiating Antonakos from his strictly Minimalist contemporaries. He uses incomplete geometric forms, suggesting Gestalt shapes, to invite the viewer to participate imaginatively in their completion. Since 1973, Antonakos has created nearly 50 permanent public works in America, Europe and Japan, such as ...

Article

Saisha Grayson

(b Abington, PA, 1955).

American installation artist. Upon graduating from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, where she studied printmaking and painting, Apfelbaum moved to New York City in 1978. Apfelbaum consistently found ways to trouble the distinctions between painting, sculpture, craft, and installation-based practices, and between pure abstraction and a range of conceptual and cultural allusions. Such productive tensions abound in the ‘fallen paintings’ for which she is best known, which feature fabrics meticulously shaped and arranged in floor-bound compositions with titles that reference everything from Disney characters to punk bands to Italian cinema. Playfully poking fun at art historical taboos and tastes, her work is often addressed as a feminist, post-modernist response to Minimalism that embraces the emotional, the psychological, the ephemeral, and the sociopolitical potential of abstraction.

Apfelbaum’s first floor installation, Daisy Chain (1989), presented carved wooden shapes appropriated from an Andy Warhol silkscreen, which in turn had appropriated its graphics from a Scandinavian Airlines ticket, a chain of references inferred by the title, which itself invites associations. As in later work, its accumulated elements can simultaneously be appreciated from above as a pictorial composition, walked around like a sculpture, and experienced temporally and spatially as an installation. In ...

Article

Wystan Curnow

[Bates, Barrie]

(b Auckland, Jan 1, 1935).

New Zealand sculptor and conceptual artist. He studied at the Royal College of Art in London in the early 1960s and first showed his work alongside that of fellow students such as David Hockney and Derek Boshier, helping to mark the emergence of British Pop art. The pseudonym that he adopted in 1962 reflected his obsession with different ways of representing fruit. On moving in 1964 to New York he began to produce neon versions of popular icons. In 1970 he established Apple as one of New York’s first artist-run ‘alternative’ art spaces.

The conceptual element in Apple’s early Pop work became dominant in the late 1960s and 1970s. From 1975 to 1980 he concentrated on the deconstruction of the ‘white cube’ gallery exhibition space, proposing alterations to or actually changing existing interiors, notably at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York (1977, 1978, 1980) and at a number of public galleries in New Zealand (...

Article

Christiane Paul

(b Buffalo, NY, May 25, 1978).

American computer artist, performance artist, video artist, installation artist, composer, sculptor, and printmaker. He graduated in 2000 from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he originally studied classical guitar but later switched to the technology of music. At Oberlin he also met Paul B. Davis with whom he formed the Beige Programming Ensemble in 2000, and released a record of 8-bit music entitled The 8-Bit Construction Set. In 2010 he co-founded, with Howie Chen and Alan Licht, the band Title TK.

Arcangel’s body of work has consistently addressed a series of themes, such as the manner in which we express ourselves through technological tools and platforms (from Photoshop to YouTube) in funny, original, creative, and awkward ways. His projects often explore our fascination with technology by playfully undermining our expectations of it and limiting viewers’ control. Another theme that frequently surfaces is the speed of technological obsolescence and the absurdity of a given technology’s lifecycle, which often moves from the cutting-edge of design to an insult of good taste (see Siegel, pp. 81–2). Arcangel connects these themes to the history of art, drawing parallels between pop-cultural vernacular and approaches in the fine art world and combining high tech and do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches. Among his best-known works are his hacks and modifications of Nintendo game cartridges and obsolete computer systems from the 1970s and 1980s (...

Article

Greta Stroeh

[Jean] (Peter Wilhelm)

(b Strassburg, Germany [now Strasbourg, France], Sept 16, 1886; d Basle, Switzerland, June 7, 1966).

French sculptor, painter, collagist, printmaker, and poet of German birth. The son of a German father and French Alsatian mother, he developed a cosmopolitan outlook from an early age and as a mature artist maintained close contact with the avant-garde throughout Europe. He was a pioneer of abstract art and one of the founders of Dada in Zurich, but he also participated actively in both Surrealism and Constructivism. While he prefigured junk art and the Fluxus movement in his incorporation of waste material, it was through his investigation of biomorphism and of chance and accident that he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Following a brief period at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Strasbourg (1900–01), Arp received instruction from 1901 from a friend and neighbour, the painter and printmaker Georges Ritleng (1875–1972). He then attended the Kunstschule in Weimar (1904–7) and the Académie Julian in Paris (...

Article

revised by Margaret Barlow

(b Harrisburg, PA, Nov 20, 1946).

American sculptor, draughtswoman, and installation and environmental artist. She studied liberal arts at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (1964–8), and obtained an MA in studio art at Hunter College, City University of New York (1968–71), where she worked under Robert Morris and became familiar with systems theory. From the 1960s Aycock developed phenomenologically site-orientated works to include metaphor and simile, referring to machinery and construction sites, archaeological sites, models, children’s play areas and funfairs, and other public or social settings. For example in A Simple Network of Underground Wells and Tunnels (1975) six concrete wells (1.62 sq. m) with connecting tunnels were sunk into an area of ground c. 6.1×12.2 m at Merriewold West, Far Hills, NJ (destr.). The curious sense of authority within her sophisticated, well-made structures is simultaneously articulated and undermined by a nonsensical, non-functional, and fantastical element. Her works are often a synthesis of diverse elements. The imagery of the ...

Article

Laural Weintraub

(b Milan, Oct 31, 1924; d Vergiate, June 17, 2003).

Italian painter, sculptor and collagist . He studied painting at the Accademia di Brera, Milan (1945–8), while also studying law at the university there. Although at first influenced by Matisse, in 1951 with Sergio Dangelo (b 1931) he founded Arte nucleare, which sought, through gestural means similar to Tachism, to express the precariousness of the post-war situation and to revive the avant-garde. Increasingly interested in impasto and surface textures, Baj produced his first collages and assemblages in 1955. In the Curious Couple (1956; Pittsburgh, PA, Carnegie) he combined torn fabric, paper, glass and oil paint in a rather tentative fashion to form the rough, massive puppet-like heads that recur in his work. Following a return to impasto surfaces in the Mountains series (1957–8), he combined texture and objets trouvés in his Generals series (1959–61). For example, in War Hero (collage, 1959; Chicago, IL, Mus. Contemp. A.) he used fabric, paper, ribbons and a medal. The ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Merseyside, June 23, 1966).

English sculptor and conceptual artist. She studied at Kingston Polytechnic, Surrey (1986–9), and at Goldsmiths’ College of Art in London (1992–3). She had her first solo exhibition at City Racing, London, in 1994, and in the following year was included in General Release: Young British Artists at the XLVI Venice Biennale. Banner came to prominence with her ‘wordscapes’, large text works that recount the plots of feature films or other events. The first of these was Top Gun (pencil on paper, 2.13×4.57 m, 1993), a hand-written account of the film Top Gun presented on a cinematic scale. The ‘wordscapes’ led to the publication in 1997 of The Nam, 1000 pages of continuous text describing the Vietnam war movies Apocalypse Now, Born on the Fourth of July, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Hamburger Hill and The Deer Hunter. This unreadable text points to the excess of violence in such films, the numbing of critical faculties, as well as the mythologizing and fictionalizing framing devices used to interpret historical events. Towards the end of the 1990s she became interested in the implications of punctuation signs, dwelling on their qualities as abstract marks that give structure to text. By selecting a variety of fonts, enlarging the full stop signs to ...

Article

Frazer Ward

(b San Francisco, CA, 1967).

American sculptor, installation artist, filmmaker, and video artist. Barney emerged in the early 1990s to considerable fanfare, based on the reputation of works made while still an undergraduate at Yale University (he graduated with a BA in 1989), and early exhibitions in New York galleries. Exhibitions such as Field Dressing (1989; New Haven, CT, Yale, U., Payne Whitney Athletic Complex), and early works in the series Drawing Restraint (begun in 1987), established characteristics of Barney’s work: striking imagery drawn from an idiosyncratic range of sources (sport-oriented in the earliest works), sculptural objects in signature materials (e.g. petroleum jelly, ‘self-lubricating plastic’), and athletic performances by the artist, in the service of arcane personal mythology (see fig.). These characteristics are most fully expressed in the Cremaster cycle of five films (1994–2003, released out of order, beginning with Cremaster 4 (1992)). Elaborate and expensive productions featuring lush imagery, drawing on both marginal and mainstream histories (performance art and Hollywood cinema), Celtic and Masonic lore, popular cultural references (Harry Houdini, Gary Gilmore), and anatomical metaphors (the Cremaster is the muscle by which the testicles are raised and lowered), the ...

Article

Eduardo Serrano

(b Cartagena, Oct 27, 1945).

Colombian painter, sculptor and conceptual artist. He studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes of the University of Atlántico in Barranquilla, Colombia, from 1958 to 1960, and in Italy from 1966 to 1967 at the University of Perugia. In 1966, under the influence of Pop art, he made the first of a series of collages combining cut-outs of well-known individuals and comic strips with drawn elements. Two years later he added frosty effects and velvet flowers to his interpretations in black and red ink of figures with distorted bodies and the faces of film stars. In 1969 he began to present these in increasingly three-dimensional boxes or glass cases, accompanied by clouds of cotton wool, plastic figures and other additions that combined to make up fantastic or nostalgic scenes, dream-like and surrealist in appearance and tone.

Barrios was among those who introduced conceptual art to Colombia, for example by publishing in newspapers a series of ...

Article

Cecile Johnson

(Losch)

(b Long Beach, CA, March 14, 1941).

American installation artist, painter, printmaker and sculptor. Bartlett studied at Mills College, Oakland, CA (1960–63), and at the Yale School of Art and Architecture, New Haven, CT (1964–5). The progressive approach to modern art taught at Yale and the nearby thriving art scene of New York were instrumental in her early development (1963–early 1970s). Bartlett’s first one-person exhibition was in New York (1970) in the loft of the artist Alan Saret. Nine-point Pieces (1973–4), a later work, was shown at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York and was experimental both conceptually and materially. Her ambivalent use of systems to establish an order and to oppose it allowed her to explore the material and the conceptual process of making images and objects. Rhapsody (1975–6; priv. col., see exh. cat., p. 21), one of her best-known installations, consists of 988 steel plates covered with screenprint grids and hand-painted Testors enamel and hung on a wall (2.28×47.86 m). Each plate exists individually and in relation to its adjoining plate and may be read vertically or horizontally, creating a mesh of stylistic variability exploring both figurative and non-figurative motifs. Another work of the 1970s is ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Rheinsberg, 1944).

German sculptor and installation artist. He attended the Staatlichen Akademie für bildende Künste, Karlsruhe (1968) and the Staatlichen Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (1969–71), where he studied for a year under Joseph Beuys. Baumgarten is known for his sculptures with ecological themes, drawn primarily from his travels among Native North and South Americans. His anthropological investigations have also found expression in films, books, photographs and writings. In 1978 Baumgarten embarked on an extended stay with the Yanomami Indians in the Upper Orinoco region; his documentation of this time attempted to provide an unbiased view of Indian culture. His reflections on the historical problems associated with colonialism arguably found better expression in site-specific works using words, such as the wall painting Monument for the South American Indian Nations (1982), installed at Documenta 7, Kassel. In this he mounted the names of Native South Americans around the circular base of a skylight in the Museum Fredericianum in Kassel. This and other works drew attention to the inscription of colonial power through re-naming. This approach was given a different colonial context in ...

Article

Simon Njami

(b Douala, 1962).

Cameroonian painter, sculptor and installation artist, active in France. He moved to Paris in 1974 and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts; he began exhibiting in the late 1980s, showing in France, Switzerland, Spain and Greece, among other places. Unlike many African artists living in Europe, he never felt dislocated. His sculptures, canvases and installation pieces combine all manner of found objects and other material that he manufactures himself. With these he comments on issues of representation and artistic practice in the Western world, at the same time evoking the presence and/or absence of humans, and therefore memory. The objects he uses are symbolic as well: eggs signify renewal, for instance. His compositions are simple and striking, as is his use of colour. In one work, for example, a ‘mummified’ figure appears on each side panel in the same thick white paint as the ground, holding a red rose against a metal plate. Against the black centre panel is an orange dress, under which are white flowers....

Article

Michelle Yun

(b New York, Feb 5, 1960).

American multimedia artist, curator, and writer. Blake received a BA from Bard College, Annadale-on-Hudson, NY, in 1982 and an MFA from the California Institute of Arts in Valencia in 1984. Upon graduation he moved to San Francisco where he worked as a curator at New Langton Arts, San Francisco, until his return to New York in 1996. Most notable of his curated exhibitions was In a Different Light, at the University Art Museum, Berkeley, in 1995, the first museum exhibition to examine the influence of lesbian and gay artists on contemporary art. In 2003 Blake became the founding Chair of the International Center of Photography/Bard Masters Program in Advanced Photographic Studies at the International Center for Photography in New York.

Blake’s performances, installations, and curated exhibitions have consistently tackled issues relating to sexuality, race, and representation. In his youth the artist was influenced by Joseph Cornell, and early sculptures such as ...