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Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Oakland, CA, 1893; d. Shiraz, Iran, 25 Jan. 1977).

American historian of Iranian art. While studying mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, Ackerman met and eventually married Arthur Upham Pope, with whom she had taken courses in philosophy and aesthetics. In 1926 she and Pope organized the first ever exhibition of Persian art at the Pennsylvania Museum and helped create the First International Congress of Oriental Art. In 1930 Ackerman was stricken with polio but taught herself to walk again. They were instrumental in preparing the 1931 Persian Art Exhibition at Burlington House, London, and the Second International Congress of Iranian Art and Archaeology, as well as the Third Congress in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1935 and the exhibition of Iranian art at the Iranian Institute in New York in 1940. She visited Iran for the first time in 1964, when the shah of Iran invited Pope to revive the Asia Institute; it was associated with Pahlavi University in Shiraz until ...

Article

Andrew Weiner

(b Beirut, 1925).

Lebanese painter and writer active in the USA. Daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, Adnan was educated in Lebanon before going on to study philosophy at the Sorbonne, Harvard, and the University of California, Berkeley. For many years she taught aesthetics at Dominican College, San Rafael, CA; she also lectured and taught at many other colleges and universities. During the 1970s Adnan regularly contributed editorials, essays, and cultural criticism to the Beirut-based publications Al-Safa and L’Orient-Le Jour. In 1978 she published the novel Sitt Marie Rose, which won considerable acclaim for its critical portrayal of cultural and social politics during the early years of the Lebanese Civil War. Adnan published numerous books of poetry, originating in her opposition to the American war in Vietnam and proceeding to encompass topics as diverse as the landscape of Northern California and the geopolitics of the Middle East. Her poetry served as the basis for numerous works of theater and contemporary classical music....

Article

Deborah Cullen

(Henry) [Spinky]

(b Charlotte, NC, Nov 29, 1907; d April 27, 1977).

African American painter, sculptor, graphic artist, muralist and educator. In 1913, Charles Alston’s family relocated from North Carolina to New York where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School. In 1929, he attended Columbia College and then Teachers College at Columbia University, where he obtained his MFA in 1931. Alston’s art career began while he was a student, creating illustrations for Opportunity magazine and album covers for jazz musician Duke Ellington.

Alston was a groundbreaking educator and mentor. He directed the Harlem Arts Workshop and then initiated the influential space known simply as “306,” which ran from 1934 to 1938. He taught at the Works Progress Administration’s Harlem Community Art Center and was supervisor of the Harlem Hospital Center murals, leading 35 artists as the first African American project supervisor of the Federal Art Project. His two murals reveal the influence of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (1886–1957). His artwork ranged from the comic to the abstract, while often including references to African art. During World War II, he worked at the Office of War Information and Public Information, creating cartoons and posters to mobilize the black community in the war effort....

Article

Virginie Bobin

Exhibition space that is not run by an institution or commercial organization is often described as an alternative space. The phenomenon of alternative spaces in the United States is usually associated with the blooming of numerous not-for-profit artist-run spaces in the 1970s, although important precedents can be found as far as in 1862, when the Art Building Gallery in Chicago was founded to provide free exhibition space to artists. Providing fees and decision-power to artists, promoting conceptual and video, installation or action art, collective practices and social and political commitment, alternative spaces radically contributed to redefine the position of the artist and the form of the exhibition in the United States. Since then, the acceptance of the term has shifted to a more general opposition to mainstream institutions, such as museums and commercial galleries.

Generally considered the first small nonprofit organizations initiated by and for visual artists, 98 Greene Street, Apple, and 112 Workshop (now White Columns) opened in New York in ...

Article

Grischka Petri

American institution and art school promoting fine art that was active between 1802 and 1841 in New York. The Academy was the second art academy established in the USA, following the Columbianum Academy of Philadelphia. It was founded in 1802 as the New York Academy of the Fine Arts by its first president, mayor Edward Livingston, and his brother Robert R. Livingston, president from 1804 to 1813. The Academy’s first task was to procure plaster casts from antique statues in the Musée du Louvre, Paris. With the exception of this permanent exhibition, however, the institution largely languished. In 1804 it changed its name to the American Academy of the Arts, finally being incorporated in 1808.

After his return to the USA in 1815, John Trumbull became a main force behind the Academy’s reactivation. In 1816, its first exhibition in new rooms was highly successful. Succeeding DeWitt Clinton as president in ...

Article

Klaus Ottmann

American not-for-profit organization founded in 1909 that initiates and organizes art exhibitions and provides educational and professional programs in collaboration with the museum community. Established by an act of Congress in 1909, after former Secretary of State and US Senator Elihu Root called for the founding of an organization “whose purpose is to promote the study of art, the cultivation of public taste, and the application of art to the development of material conditions in our country,” the American Federation of Arts (AFA) is one of the oldest art organizations in the country and serves nearly 300 museum members in the USA and abroad. Root’s then revolutionary proposal was unanimously endorsed by representatives of 80 American art institutions in attendance. Among the 35 founders, in addition to Root, were presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, as well as artist William Merritt Chase and businessmen Mellon family §(1), and J(ohn) Pierpont Morgan...

Article

Deborah Cullen

One of the oldest and largest artist-run schools of art instruction in the USA. The Arts Students League (ASL) was founded in 1875 by and for art students, many of whom were women. It opened largely in response to student dissatisfaction with the classes and conservative leadership at the National Academy of Design (NAD), then the predominant school of art instruction. The Academy had been founded in 1825 by artists including Samuel F(inley) B(reese) Morse, Asher B(rown) Durand, and Thomas Cole. Faced with financial difficulty, it was rumored that live figure drawing classes were to be canceled at the Academy, and therefore students and concerned teachers called for a meeting to initiate a new program of art instruction. The Art Students League was independently funded by tuition fees and vowed that life drawing would always be available. The mission of the ASL remains to emphasize the importance of artistic creativity, to maintain the greatest respect for artists who devote their lives to art and to educate students in the process of making art in an environment where anyone who wishes to pursue an art education can realize their full potential....

Article

American artists’ convention within the larger AIDS activist organization Visual AIDS. This group is best known for the famous Ribbon Project in 1991 in which artists and activists encouraged people to wear red ribbons to raise consciousness about the AIDS crisis within the broader population. Along with the efforts of such artist–activist groups as Gran Fury and Group Material, Visual AIDS represented an important aspect of the art world’s response to the AIDS crisis during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Artists’ Caucus comprised a diverse and changing group of artists that included Penny Arcade (b 1950), Allen Frame (b 1951), Michael Goff (b 1957), Nan Goldin (b 1953), Paul H-O, Frank Moore (1953–2002), Joe Rudy and Leslie Sharpe.

Visual AIDS was established in New York in 1989 by curators Gary Garrels, William Olander and Thomas Sokolowski and by the art critic Robert Atkins in order to mobilize art world institutions in the fight against AIDS and to increase public awareness of the crisis. Among their early interventions, the most important was the first annual “Day Without Art” in which museums and galleries were encouraged to memorialize AIDS deaths on ...

Article

Matico Josephson

American multi-ethnic arts organization based in New York’s Chinatown. The Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) and its predecessors, the Asian American Dance Theatre (1974–93) and the Asian Arts Institute (1981–8), emerged from the milieu of the Basement Workshop, the first working group of the Asian American Movement on the East Coast, whose mouthpiece was the journal Bridge (1970–81). After the closing of the Basement Workshop in 1987, the Dance Theatre and the Asian Arts Institute were consolidated as the AAAC.

Directed by Eleanor S. Yung, the Dance Theatre was at the core of the organization’s activities from the 1970s through the early 1990s, performing traditional dances from several Asian cultures alongside modern and postmodern forms. In the early 1980s, the Asian Arts Institute began to hold exhibitions and collect slides of artists’ work and documentation of their activities, working primarily with artists involved in the downtown art scene. Early programs included open studio events for artists working in Chinatown and exhibitions of the work of Arlan Huang (...

Article

Alexandra Chang

American community-based arts and activist group in New York that flourished from 1971 to 1986. Basement Workshop (Inc.) evolved during the Asian American art movement, inspired by the Black Power and the Third World Liberation movements of the late 1960s. The group of artists, writers, performers, and social activists initially met in a leaky basement at 54 Elizabeth Street located in New York’s Chinatown. Basement moved successively to 22 Catherine Street, 199 Lafayette Street, expanded to include spaces at 7 Eldridge Street and 32 East Broadway, and finally returned to 22 Catherine Street during the collective’s existence from 1971 to 1986.

Basement was co-founded by Danny Yung (b 1943), Eleanor Yung, Peter Pan, Frank Ching (b 1943), and Rocky Chin. Its activities grew from the “Chinatown Report of 1969,” which was headed by Danny Yung and funded by the Ford Foundation. Basement was formally incorporated in ...

Article

Kathleen James-Chakraborty

After the closure in 1933 of the Bauhaus in Berlin, its staff and students dispersed. Many found their way to the USA, where they became highly influential teachers as well as artists and architects. The pedagogical methods developed at the school, particularly in the preliminary course, became commonplace in all levels of art education, as the former centrality in America of life drawing to instruction in the visual arts was now challenged by experimentation with abstract principles of composition and the qualities of individual materials.

Josef and Anni Albers family were the first Bauhäusler to immigrate to the USA. They arrived in 1933 and quickly took up positions at Black Mountain College, NC. In 1950 Josef became chair of the department of design at Yale University, New Haven, CT, from which he retired in 1958. His increasingly rigorous investigations into geometry and colour culminated in a series of paintings entitled ...

Article

Elizabeth Meredith Dowling

American organization dedicated to improving the quality of architectural education. Incorporated in 1916 by the architect Lloyd Warren (1867–1922), the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design (BAID) was an outgrowth of the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects (SBAA; 1894–1942) established by his brother Whitney Warren (1864–1943) with Thomas Hastings and Ernest Flagg who had all studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and were nationally recognized American architects. BAID was dedicated to the improvement of architectural education by providing a centralized location for the distribution and judging of design problems. Architecture schools and private ateliers located throughout the United States developed projects based on the programs created by BAID. The student work was then sent to the headquarters in New York to be judged. An award system of medals and mentions cited the work considered most deserving by the jury of distinguished architects. The award winning projects published in ...

Article

Mary Emma Harris

Experimental liberal arts college at Black Mountain, NC, open from 1933 to 1957. In the 1940s and early 1950s Black Mountain College was a centre for a group of painters, architects, musicians and poets associated particularly with the development of abstract art and performance and multimedia work, crossing many disciplines. It was founded by John Andrew Rice (1888–1968) and a group of students and faculty from Rollins College, Winter Park, FL. It was located in the Blue Ridge Assembly Buildings, c. 29 km east of Asheville, NC, until 1941, when it moved to nearby Lake Eden until its closure. The progressive ideas of John Dewey influenced the integration of formal education with community life, the absence of conventional grades and credits and the central importance accorded to the arts. The college was owned and administered by the faculty. The setting was modest, and fewer than 1200 students attended in 24 years....

Article

Deborah Cullen

[Bob] (Hamilton)

(b Summit, NJ, Dec 10, 1920; d New York, NY, April 21, 2003).

African American printmaker and educator. Robert Blackburn’s family moved to Harlem when he was six years old. Blackburn attended meetings at “306” and learned lithography in 1938 at the Harlem Community Art Center. He earned a scholarship to the Art Students League from 1940 to 1943 and worked for the Harmon Foundation in the mid 1940s. In 1948, he opened the Printmaking Workshop (PMW) in Chelsea, a cooperative where he and his friends could pursue experimental fine art lithography. By 1955, students from S. W. Hayter’s Atelier 17, an experimental intaglio workshop, were in attendance. Blackburn earned his living by teaching lithography and printing editions for artists. He became one of the first black technicians at Cooper Union. From 1952 to 1953, Blackburn went to Paris on a John Hay Whitney traveling fellowship, where he worked at the Jacques Desjobert Workshop and then traveled around Europe. He returned to New York and his Printmaking Workshop in ...

Article

(b Brooklyn, NY, Nov 4, 1940).

American graphic designer, installation artist and design educator. De Bretteville attended Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, NY, and was included in the school’s Art Squad by teacher and artist Leon Friend, who submitted his students’ work to national competitions. She received a prestigious Alex Award, named after the designer Alex Steinweiss, also a former member of the Art Squad. She received a BA in art history from Barnard College, New York in 1962 and received her MFA in the graphic design program at Yale University’s School of Art in 1964. She joined the faculty of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and founded the first design programme for women in 1970. In 1981 she founded the communication design programme at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles (now the Otis College of Art and Design), which was at the time affiliated with the Parsons School of Design in New York. In ...

Article

Lawrence E. Butler

(b Croton Falls, NY, March 7, 1872; d Paris, Aug 13, 1922).

American archaeologist and teacher. After receiving his MA in 1893 from Princeton University with a fellowship in archaeology, Butler studied architecture at Columbia University. From 1895 until his death he held various appointments at Princeton in architecture, archaeology, and art: his teaching of architecture as one of the fine arts led to the creation of the Princeton School of Architecture, of which he became the founding director in 1922. He was one of the most influential American archaeologists of his time, owing to his discoveries in Syria and at Sardis. His work in Syria was inspired by Melchior de Vogüé’s explorations there in the 1860s. Butler organized and led an American expedition in 1899 with the intention of verifying, photographing, and adding to the list of de Vogüé’s sites. His work in Syria continued until 1909 and resulted in several important publications on the early Christian architecture. In 1910 he began excavating at Sardis, uncovering the Artemis Temple and a number of important Lydian objects, until ...

Article

Carolyn Kinder Carr

(b Williamsburg, IN, Nov 1, 1849; d New York, Oct 25, 1916).

American painter and printmaker. Chase received his early training in Indianapolis from the portrait painter Barton S. Hays (1826–75). In 1869 he went to New York to study at the National Academy of Design where he exhibited in 1871. That year he joined his family in St Louis, where John Mulvaney (1844–1906) encouraged him to study in Munich. With the support of several local patrons, enabling him to live abroad for the next six years, Chase entered the Königliche Akademie in Munich in 1872. Among his teachers were Alexander von Wagner (1838–1919), Karl Theodor von Piloty and Wilhelm von Diez (1839–1907). Chase also admired the work of Wilhelm Leibl. The school emphasized bravura brushwork, a technique that became integral to Chase’s style, favoured a dark palette and encouraged the study of Old Master painters, particularly Diego Velázquez and Frans Hals. Among Chase’s friends in Munich were the American artists Walter Shirlaw, J. Frank Currier and Frederick Dielman (...

Article

(Chinese Academy of Art)

Artists’ club formed in 1926 in San Francisco’s Chinatown. The club was composed of Guangdong immigrants in their late teens and early 20s. Its headquarters, which also served as a studio, teaching center, exhibition space and quite possibly a shared bedroom, was located in an upper room at 150 Wetmore Place, an alley on Chinatown’s western fringe. The exact membership is unknown—probably a dozen members at any given time—and its composition fluctuated greatly during its 15 or so years of existence. Its most famous members were Yun Gee, a co-founder and leader, and Eva Fong Chan (1897–1991), who was granted membership in the early 1930s and was the only woman known to belong. Unlike Fong, a former beauty queen who was a piano teacher married to a prominent Catholic businessman and privileged with an education, the young men were working-class and probably held the menial jobs reserved for most Chinese of their era, as servants, cooks, dishwashers and launderers....

Article

Sharon Matt Atkins

(b Oakland, CA, Aug 26, 1925; d Tucson, AZ, June 4, 2009).

American painter, printmaker and teacher. Colescott produced highly expressive and gestural paintings that addressed a wide range of social and cultural themes and challenged stereotypes. Interested in issues of race, gender and power, his work critiqued the representation of minorities in literature, history, art and popular culture. Stylistically, his work is indebted to European modernism, particularly Cubism and Expressionism, but also makes references to African sculpture, African American art and post–World War II American styles.

Colescott was introduced to art at an early age. His mother was a pianist and his father was a classically-trained violinist and jazz musician. Through his parents’ social circles, he often found himself surrounded by creative individuals as he was growing up, like his artistic mentor, the sculptor Sargent Johnson (1888–1967). Colescott received his BA in 1949 and later his MFA in 1952 from the University of California, Berkeley. He also studied with ...

Article

Aaris Sherin

(b 1925; d Brookline, MA, May 26, 1994).

American graphic designer, art educator and researcher. Cooper received a BSc in education from Ohio State University in Columbus (1948), and a BFA in design (1948) and BSc in education (1951) from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. In 1952 she became design director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Office of Publications (later renamed Design Services), but left MIT in 1958 and founded her own design studio, Muriel Cooper Media Design. The majority of her work still came from MIT and in 1966 she returned as the first design and media director of the MIT Press (1966–74). Her design for Learning from Las Vegas (MIT Press, 1972) was important to the evolution of printed media and computer-assisted design. Cooper used an IBM composer for the typesetting and although the machine was still manually driven it allowed her to interchange typefaces at will, a fact that she found liberating. She continued to experiment as the power and flexibility of technology increased. The book won awards for its design, but her clients were not particularly pleased with the innovative work: ‘They wanted a duck, and I gave them a monument.’...