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Morgan Falconer

(b Frauenberg, Nov 11, 1951).

German painter and sculptor. He studied sociology, politics and educational theory at university (1970–76). Bömmels became known within the context of German Neo-Expressionism in the early 1980s: he was a member of the Cologne-based group Mülheimer Freiheit, and his vigorous, fluid technique and symbolist leanings led him to be associated with the ‘wild’ painters or New Primitives. Break with History (1984–5; see Faust, 1990, pl. 22) is typical of his early style: intense, expressionistic facture combines with a striking palette of brown, yellow and red to depict a cryptic scene of fleshy but ghost-like figures in a torn landscape; the scene could be read as referring to the contemporary political divisions within Germany. Bömmels’s interest in history and love of hermetic allegories gradually led him to be influenced by the medieval and Roman art of Cologne. Scales of Justice (1984–5; see Faust, 1990, pl. 22) is characteristic of the early stages of this development: two old tradesmen’s signs, painted with obscure symbols, hang from a crooked wooden cross which stands in the stump of a tree. Towards the end of the 1980s his handling shed its vigour and came to resemble the faintly comic style of Romanesque sculpture; he also began to employ a variety of new formats, including relief carving and paintings on wood. ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Jena, Thüringen, March 15, 1954).

German painter and sculptor. He studied at Berlin University but was self-taught as an artist. He came to international prominence in the early 1980s along with a generation of young German Neo-Expressionist painters. In particular, he was associated with a group from Hamburg that included Albert Oehlen (with whom he had a long and formative association) and Martin Kippenberger. Like many of the Hamburg painters, his work was characterized by satirical attacks on the bourgeoisie, while its fantastical and infantilist dimensions were informed by a distaste for the excesses of contemporary mass culture. Still Life with Ray and Special Offer (1983; see 1987 exh. cat.) is in many ways typical of his early work: a comical image of a frowning ray, it is executed in thick, vigorous strokes and dominated by the dark palette favoured by Büttner during this period. The title, which appears to offer little with which to interpret the image is also characteristic of the way in which he counterposed image and title. His sculpture took a number of forms, but appears to be predominantly inspired by Dada traditions. ...

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

Ricardo Pau-Llosa

(b Havana, April 5, 1942).

Cuban painter, active in the USA. He left Cuba in 1960 and settled in New York, where from 1966 to 1969 he studied at the School of Visual Arts. He was a protagonist of the neo-expressionist movement that emerged in New York in the 1970s (see Neo-Expressionism in America). His work of this date is characterized by a humour lacking in some of the work by European exponents, for example The Dance of Latin America (acrylic on canvas, 1.96×2.34 m, 1983; New York, Met.). In 1985 he won a Guggenheim Fellowship in painting. Works by Cruz Azaceta are in a number of collections (e.g. A Question of Colour, acrylic on canvas, 3.05×3.66 m, 1989; Houston, TX, Mus. F.A.) including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; Boston Museum of Fine Arts, MA; and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, TX....

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

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

Francis Summers

(b St. Helen’s, 12 Jan, 1948).

English painter and writer. She studied at Maidstone College of Art from 1968 until 1971 and then moved to London, studying at the Royal College of Art until 1973. Having worked in an Expressionist mode for some years, by the early 1990s Key was making more minimal abstract paintings. Her Baby: Face, Warm (1991; see 1993 exh. cat.) consists of just two colours, pink and yellow, and has an associative sense of small affectionate gestures and feelings. By contrast BOO and OO (both 1996; see Lomax, 1996) demonstrated a shifting of focus. In these works Key produced paintings that represent a playful breaking down of systems, the letters B O O and O O painted as both letters and abstract images, creating a visual relationship between sense, non-sense and sensation. 3 + 8 = 11, 6 + 5 = 11 (1999; see 1999 exh. cat., pp. 78–9) shows her interest in systems of numeracy as well as language, a four-panelled work that is at once an abstract painting and a counting machine. Key is also a writer, having published essays on such artists as Lucia Nogueira, Kiki Smith and Susan Solano. She has also curated exhibitions, such as ‘Craft’ which was held at Richard Salmon Gallery, London, and Kettles Yard, Cambridge in ...

Article

Sook-Kyung Lee

One of the characteristics of Korean contemporary art is a continuous effort in employing and interpreting international art practices and discourses. Art movements from Europe and North America in particular, including Abstract Expressionism, Art informel, Minimalism, Conceptual art and Post-modernism, have influenced many Korean artists’ styles and ideas since the 1950s, providing formal and conceptual grounds for critical understandings and further experiments. Whilst some artists who maintained traditional art forms such as ink painting and calligraphy exercised modernist styles and abstract forms largely within the norms and conventions of traditional genres, a large group of artists proactively adapted to Western styles, employing new materials and techniques as well as the notions of avant-garde and experimentalism (see fig.).

A major critique of the reception of Western art and aesthetics came from ‘Minjung art’ (People’s Art) in the 1980s as part of instigating a nationalist and politically charged art strategy. Several art historians and critics who emerged in the 1990s also expanded the scope of the debate with postcolonial and pluralist points of view. The shift in social, economic and political environments played an important role in changing sensibilities in art, along with the advances of technology and new media in the 2000s. The high degree of diversity and sophistication of Korean art in terms of media and subject matters became widely acknowledged within and outside the nation, and an increasing number of artists started to work on the cutting edge of international art....

Article

Eric M. Wolf

( Houston )

American art collection that opened in 1987. In 2015 the collection contained approximately 17,000 objects, specializing in modern and contemporary art (with particular strength in Surrealism, School of Paris, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, and Minimalism), antiquities, Byzantine art, and the art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. While the vast majority of works in the museum come from the collection of its late founders, John and Dominique Menil, de, the museum continues to collect and grow its art collection.

The main building was designed by architect Renzo Piano and was his first solo museum commission (he had previously partnered with Richard Rogers in the design of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris) and his first commission in the USA. In 2013 this building won the Twenty-Five Year Award of the American Institute of Architects, recognizing architectural design of lasting significance. Sited in a residential neighbourhood in Houston’s Montrose district, the modestly scaled museum building is surrounded by bungalows, houses, and smaller satellite galleries creating a campus-like environment. These surrounding properties are owned by the Menil Foundation and are painted a grey matching that of the wooden cladding on the main building. The museum features the first iteration of Piano’s signature glass roof, here suspended over large ferro-concrete ‘leaves’ or fixed louvres, which regulate the natural light entering the galleries. In addition to gallery space, the main building contains a conservation laboratory with studios for painting, object, and paper treatment, a research library, archives, museum offices, and the second floor ‘treasure rooms’, a sort of curated art storage making a large portion of the museum’s collection immediately available to curatorial staff and visiting scholars....

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Dinklage, Oldenburg, 1953).

German painter. He studied painting and experimental film at the University of Art, Berlin (1971–9). Middendorf came to prominence in the early 1980s along with a generation of young German Neo-Expressionists sometimes known as the Neue Wilden; he was particularly linked with those from Berlin, such as Rainer Fetting. While the painters associated with the German revival of painting often adopted a satirical tone, Middendorf’s work drew on some of the traditional preoccupations of expressionism; the changeable and dynamic character of human nature is a typical theme in his work. For some time in the early 1980s he lived in New York where he became known for images of contemporary urban life. The Street (1983; see 1984 exh. cat.) depicts the outline of a face hanging in a slate-grey sky at the end of a canyon of skyscrapers; it is typical of the romanticism and melancholy outlook of his work during this period. His street scenes were often compared to those of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, yet in many ways they are different: Middendorf’s are tempermentally more romantic, less critical, and it has often been remarked that his very quick, fluid handling, and his tendency to fix on single, simple motifs rather than complex scenes, represents a deliberately mannered revival of the style. Like many German painters of this period, he was influenced by the contemporary German punk music scene, and depicted it in the ...

Article

Horacio Safons

(b Buenos Aires, July 3, 1950).

Argentine painter. He was self-taught and came to prominence in the early 1980s as part of a current of Neo-expressionism and New Image painting that related to international developments emanating from Europe and the USA. He favoured schematic images presented as signs, their flatness counteracted only by the sensations of space induced by his use of colour and texture. He often incorporated written inscriptions into his pictures, as in a series entitled ...

Article

Karen Kurczynski

Term used to describe the return to figurative painting and sculpture in large-scale, aggressive and gestural works that gained international attention around 1980. Major international exhibitions such as A New Spirit in Painting (1981, London, RA) and Documenta 7 in 1982 in Kassel, Germany, signaled a return to painting and narrative after the dominance of conceptual art, performance, video, photography and other non-traditional media in the 1970s (even if Documenta 7 also included the latter trends). In the US context, it drew on the return to gestural painting exemplified in New Image painting, which favored naive or simplified imagery over realism and treated the figure as a sign or cipher (see New Image art). Neo-Expressionism emerged as an international tendency, including such artists as Baselitz [Kern], Georg, Clemente, Francesco, Kiefer, Anselm, Kirkeby, Per, Murray, Elizabeth and Schnabel, Julian, who produced bold, monumental, multimedia works that emphasized a painterly approach to the gesture. Neo-Expressionism was heavily criticized by political Postmodernist critics such as Benjamin Buchloh, Craig Owens and ...

Article

H. Alexander Rich

(b Segovia, Spain, June 20, 1903; d Bridgehampton, NY, Jan 10, 2001).

American painter and teacher of Spanish birth. One of the last surviving members of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, Vicente arrived in New York from Spain as an innovative synthesizer of earlier European styles, working his way from portrait and nature painting through landscapes and Cubism before arriving at his mature New York School-inflected manner of large-scale abstract collage and stain paintings.

Born in Segovia, but growing up in Madrid, he was undoubtedly influenced by his father, a former military officer who also dabbled in painting and who often took his son to the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Vicente enrolled at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de S. Fernando in Madrid to study sculpture in 1921.

Although sculpting occupied Vicente for three years at the Academy, where Salvador Dalí was a classmate, by the time he moved to Paris in 1929 Vicente had re-branded himself a painter. That same year, he showed his work for the first time in the Salon des Surindépendants. Vicente painted primarily from nature, composing landscapes that fused ...