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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

Ewa Mikina

(b Zawory, nr Gdańsk, June 15, 1934).

Polish painter, sculptor and stage designer. He studied at the Higher School of Plastic Arts in Poznań between 1952 and 1958. His abstract work has a certain affinity with hard-edge painting and Minimalism. In his early paintings the circular or oval shape of the canvas restates the shape of the form painted on it and thereby becomes its real analogue (as in Double Circles and Circle Compositions, 1962–5). At about the same time he produced sculptures made from thin wire. In the paintings after 1965 the actual space becomes a part of the composition and begins to supplant painted, illusory forms; and the ‘empty’ space starts to play an increasingly important role (e.g. Structural Painting with Hole, 1965).

At the end of the 1960s Berdyszak produced the series of double and triple Integral Paintings, in which the initial formal composition is subjected to multiplication and modification. The sculptures from this period are loosely assembled groups of simple, geometrical elements that allow the viewer to rearrange them. Between ...

Article

Ewa Mikina

(b Bydgoszcz, Pomerania, Nov 14, 1932).

Polish conceptual artist. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw, in 1953–9. His earliest work draws on his experience of Minimalism and Op art. The series Optical Objects (1958–65), for example, geometrical reliefs modelled according to mathematical calculations and painted in a range of tones from white to grey to black, exploits both natural and artificial effects of light and shade. Environment (1968), an assembly of solid three-dimensional forms, could be seen simultaneously as a unified structure and as a collection of individual ‘works’, and it was on the periphery of architecture, sculpture and painting.

In 1970 Gostomski conceived the piece It Begins in Wrocław, an ‘impossible’ project, in which three arbitrarily selected forms, beginning in a defined point in the centre of Wrocław, were to spread out in an equally arbitrary manner through the city, the continent, the globe, and eventually into galactic infinity. In ...

Article

Harry Rand

[Dambrowsky, Ivan]

(b Kiev, 1881/6; d London, 1961).

Polish theorist and painter, active in the USA. Though few immigrants maintained ties to Europe as strong as John Graham’s, his titanic effect upon the direction and development of American art surpassed that of many critics and influential artists—an unlikely reality (because of his improbable bearing and background), acknowledged by his artistic disciples and chronicled in fact.

His family were minor Polish aristocrats long resident in Russia. He studied law at the University of Kiev then became a Tsarist cavalry officer to fight the Revolution. After being captured by the Bolsheviks, he escaped to western Europe and by 1920 had arrived in the USA. He changed his name, believing that Graham looked similar to the Cyrillic orthography of Dambrowsky. In New York Graham studied in 1921 under John Sloan at the Art Students League while maintaining contacts with Russian artists including Mikhail Larionov and David Burlyuk. Active as an artist in the 1920s, he corresponded with the American collector Duncan Phillips, who acquired several of his paintings. Graham was acquainted with Picasso (an influence he eventually rejected but not before confusing the situation by claiming they were born in the same year, thus forever muddying the facts of his life) and in the late 1920s had one-man exhibitions in both the USA and Paris. In New York he became prominent as the principal link between modernist artists in New York and Paris. In ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Edinburgh, March 5, 1962).

Scottish painter. He studied at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen (1980–84), and Edinburgh College of Art (1984–5). In 1988, after a period spent working in Amsterdam, Innes changed his figurative style for a Minimalist abstraction. Since that time, his forms have been created by applying oil paint to canvas, then dissolving and etching into it with turpentine. His restrained and considered aesthetic, often described in spiritual terms, is based strongly on a process involving the physical interaction of the materials with the physical actions of the artist. From the late 1980s he concentrated on series exploring certain painterly processes, each given simple generic titles such as Identified Form, Monologue and Exposed Painting. The vertical format of much of his work, for instance Exposed Vertical on Grey (1992; see 1992 exh. cat.), in which a single white dribble-line bisects a uniform and radiant grey surface, suggests a connection with the spiritual inclinations of earlier abstract painters such as Barnett Newman. The tactility of his paint surfaces, a key aspect of his aesthetic, suggests comparisons with older Minimalist painters such as Robert Ryman; his serial approach and typically modernist concentration on material and surface can be compared with that of the Abstract Expressionists and Minimalists in general. His muted palette of the late 1980s gave way to stronger colours in the mid-1990s. The ‘Exposed’ series, including ...

Article

Ulrike Lehmann

(b Nice, April 28, 1928; d Paris, June 6, 1962).

French painter, sculptor, performance artist and writer.

He was the son of the Dutch-born painter Fred Klein (b 1898), whose work was representational, and Marie Raymond (b 1908), who developed a reputation in the 1950s as an abstract artist, and whose abstraction was influential on the development of her son’s work. Although he had had no formal art training, he was already making his first serious attempts at painting by 1946 and showing his interest in the absoluteness of colour by formulating his first theories about monochrome. In 1946 he befriended Arman, with whom he was later to be associated in the Nouveau Réalisme movement, and the writer Claude Pascal, whom he met at a judo class. Together they developed their interest in esoteric writing and East Asian religions. Klein became a student of the Rosicrucian Fellowship in 1946 and was influenced both by its mystical philosophy and by judo. In ...

Article

Monica Bohm-Duchen

(b Brentford, Middx, Jan 22, 1934).

English painter and sculptor. He was taught drawing and watercolour painting as a child by his maternal grandmother but otherwise received no formal artistic training. In 1957 he moved to St Ives, Cornwall, where he painted and made pots. In 1959 he made his first ‘field’ images (see 1978 exh. cat., figs B, C and D), mystically minimalist records of his response to the natural environment, which set the pattern for all his subsequent work. Between 1961 and 1964 he extended these into Metaphysical Field Paintings (see 1978 exh. cat., fig. L) incorporating hieroglyphic symbols. The paintings of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman were to prove a particular inspiration to him, as was his exploration of both Eastern and Western philosophy, psychology, palaeontology, poetry and alchemy. In the mid-1960s he instituted a long series of ‘black’ paintings, which were his best-known contribution to Minimalism. Although they might at first appear to be dark monochromes, they in fact consist of a subtle layering of different colours in a particular sequence as indicated in titles such as ...

Article

Christopher Want

Term used in the 20th century, in particular from the 1960s, to describe a style characterized by an impersonal austerity, plain geometric configurations, and industrially processed materials. It was first used by Burlyuk family, §1 in the catalogue introduction for an exhibition of John Graham’s paintings at the Dudensing Gallery in New York in 1929. Burlyuk wrote: ‘Minimalism derives its name from the minimum of operating means. Minimalist painting is purely realistic—the subject being the painting itself.’ The term gained currency in the 1960s. Accounts and explanations of Minimalism varied considerably, as did the range of work to which it was related. This included the monochrome paintings of Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad(olph Dietrich Friedrich) Reinhardt (see fig.), Frank Stella, and Brice Marden, and even aspects of Pop art and Post-painterly Abstraction. Typically the precedents cited were Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades, the Suprematist compositions of Kazimir Malevich, and Barnett Newman’s Abstract Expressionist paintings. The rational grid paintings of ...