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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

Francis M. Naumann

(b Blainville, Normandy, July 28, 1887; d Neuilly-sur-Seine, Oct 2, 1968).

French painter, sculptor and writer, active also in the USA. The art and ideas of Duchamp, perhaps more than those of any other 20th-century artist, have served to exemplify the range of possibilities inherent in a more conceptual approach to the art-making process. Not only is his work of historical importance—from his early experiments with Cubism to his association with Dada and Surrealism—but his conception of the ready-made decisively altered our understanding of what constitutes an object of art. Duchamp refused to accept the standards and practices of an established art system, conventions that were considered essential to attain fame and financial success: he refused to repeat himself, to develop a recognizable style or to show his work regularly. It is the more theoretical aspects implicit to both his art and life that have had the most profound impact on artists later in the century, allowing us to identify Duchamp as one of the most influential artists of the modern era....

Article

Marsha Meskimmon

(b Blainville, 1889; d Neuilly, 1963).

French sculptor, collagist and draughtsman. Sister of (Henri-Robert-)Marcel Duchamp. Suzanne Duchamp’s work was significant to the development of Paris Dada and modernism and her drawings and collages explore fascinating gender dynamics. She worked closely with her husband, the artist Jean Crotti and her brother, which has exacerbated the tendency to subsume her particular production under their influence.

Beginning her art studies in 1905 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Rouen, by the outset of World War I Duchamp had moved to Paris. Between 1916 and 1921 she produced a significant body of work in a formal language that has come to be called ‘mechanomorphic’—images taken from commonplace mechanical or technological objects (such as cogs, pulleys, lightbulbs, car parts, etc) arranged to describe or infer human agency, desire or behaviour. The work of Francis Picabia, with whom Duchamp and Crotti were closely allied even after his ‘rejection’ of Dada in the 1920s, typifies the mechanomorphic tendency. Duchamp’s own mechanomorphic works, such as ...

Article

Malcolm Gee

(b Brühl, nr Cologne, April 2, 1891; d Paris, April 1, 1976).

German painter, printmaker, and sculptor, naturalized American in 1948 and French in 1958. He was a major contributor to the theory and practice of Surrealism (see Two Children Are Threatened by a Nightingale, 1924). His work challenged and disrupted what he considered to be repressive aspects of European culture, in particular Christian doctrine, conventional morality, and the aesthetic codes of Western academic art. Until the mid-1920s he was little known outside a small circle of artists and writers in Cologne and Paris, but he became increasingly successful from c. 1928 onwards. After 1945 he was respected and honoured as a surviving representative of a ‘heroic’ generation of avant-garde artists.

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Los Angeles, CA, 1960).

American sculptor. Kersels graduated with a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1984, and later returned to the same institution to take an MA (1993–5). From 1984 to 1993 he was a member of a neo-Dada performance group, SHRIMPS, and this clearly influenced his sculpture, both in terms of its echos of performance and its tone of light-hearted absurdity and futility. His photographic series Tossing a Friend (Melinda 1, 2 and 3) (1996; see 1998 exh. cat.) is indicative of his interest in the consequences of accidental movement: a woman is shown, in various positions, being thrown in the air by the artist. Objects of the Dealer (1995; see Pagel, 1995) suggests a more critical edge to his anarchic humour: all the mechanical and electrical components on an art dealer’s desk were wired up to different microcassettes and whenever they were used music would come from some of the 26 speakers. His well-known ...

Article

Shin’ichiro Osaki

(b Tokyo, May 4, 1904; d Yokohama, June 13, 2001).

Japanese painter and sculptor. Self-taught as an artist, in the 1920s he met David Burlyuk and others involved with such movements as Futurism, Constructivism and Dada. From 1931 Saitō concentrated on a career as an artist, initially producing Constructivist reliefs. At that time a celebrated incident occurred when he refused to exhibit pieces at the Nikakai (Second Division Society) exhibition on the grounds that his pieces were neither painting nor sculpture: he was first chosen for the Nikakai exhibition in 1936. In 1938, together with Jirō Yoshihara and Takeo Yamaguchi (1902–83), he established the ‘Room Nine Society’ (Kyūshitsukai) with artists of the Nikakai whose works tended towards abstraction. He collaborated on Toro-wood, a series of reliefs (c. 1939) destroyed in World War II (for reconstruction see 1984 exh. cat., p. 54). During the war he was persecuted by the military authorities for his avant-garde activities....

Article

Richard Humphreys

(Herman Edward Karl Julius)

(b Hannover, June 20, 1887; d Kendal, Westmorland, England, Jan 8, 1948).

German painter, sculptor, designer and writer. He studied at the Kunstakademie in Dresden (1909–14) and served as a clerical officer and mechanical draughtsman during World War I. At first his painting was naturalistic and then Impressionistic, until he came into contact with Expressionist art, particularly the art associated with Der Sturm, in 1918. He painted mystical and apocalyptic landscapes, such as Mountain Graveyard (1912; New York, Guggenheim), and also wrote Expressionist poetry for Der Sturm magazine. He became associated with the Dada movement in Berlin after meeting Hans Arp, Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch and Richard Huelsenbeck, and he began to make collages that he called Merzbilder. These were made from waste materials picked up in the streets and parks of Hannover, and in them he saw the creation of a fragile new beauty out of the ruins of German culture. Similarly he began to compose his poetry from snatches of overheard conversations and randomly derived phrases from newspapers and magazines. His mock-romantic poem ...

Article

Carolyn Lanchner

[née Taeuber]

(b Davos, Jan 19, 1889; d Zurich, Jan 13, 1943).

Swiss painter, sculptor and designer. She studied textile techniques at the Ecole des Arts Appliqués in St Gall from 1908 to 1910 and then in Hamburg at the Kunstgewerbeschule in 1912. Her career began in the centre of Dada activity in Zurich between 1915 and 1920; see Symétrie pathétique, 1916–7 and Dada Composition, 1920. Although she did not date her work until the last two years of her life, its chronology was reconstructed by Hugo Weber from the testimony of her husband, Hans Arp, and from internal evidence.

Taeuber-Arp’s work evolved in groups, each characterized by a distinctive use of formal elements. The first prevailing format was a horizontal–vertical sectioning of a square or vertical rectangular ground, as in Pillow Sham, a wool embroidery (c. 1916; Zurich, Mus. Bellerive). Its structure reveals the importance of her textile training as much as the influence of Cubism. Her austerely geometric art arose from her belief in the innate expressive power of colour, line and form, and was informed by unusual wit and freedom. She rejected her contemporaries’ progressive schematization of objective form. During the years of Dada in Zurich (...