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Jeremy Lewison

(b Quincy, MA, Sept 16, 1935).

American sculptor. He attended the Phillips Academy, Andover, MA, from 1951 to 1953, and in 1954 he visited England, where he was greatly impressed by Stonehenge. From 1955 to 1956 he served in the US Army; in 1957 he moved to New York, where he began to write poetry. He also made drawings and sculpture in Perspex and wood. He met Frank Stella in 1958 and in 1959 he shared his studio where he made large sculptures, such as Last Ladder (wood, 2.14×1.55×1.55 m; 1959; London, Tate). The Black Paintings on which Stella was working had a considerable influence on Andre both for their non-referentiality and for their symmetrical and non-hierarchic compositions, in which no part was given more emphasis than any other. Andre’s totemic wooden sculptures, such as Ladder No. 2 (wood, 2.1×0.15×0.15 m, 1959; London, Tate), are indebted to Constantin Brancusi but were cut rather than carved. Many of them were constructed according to what Andre called structural building principles, in which elements were stacked and interlocked....

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

Morgan Falconer

(b New Haven, CT, 1949).

American painter. He completed a BA at Trinity College, Hartford, CT, in 1971 and later settled in New York. Initially influenced by Post-minimalism, process art and conceptual art, he was soon attracted to the tactility and allusions to the body in the work of Brice Marden, Robert Mangold and Robert Ryman. Spurred on by the revival of interest in Surrealism in the 1970s, Dunham began to make abstract, biomorphic paintings reminiscent of the work of Arshile Gorky and André Masson, executed with a comic twist enhanced by lurid colours and the suggestion of contemporary psychedelia. In the 1980s he began to paint on wood veneer and rose to prominence in the context of a broader return to painting in the period. Age of Rectangles (1983–5; New York, MOMA) is a highly abstract composition of differing forms, symptomatic of his work at this time: geometric sketches co-exist with eroticized organic shapes while the forms of the wood veneer show through the surface of the paint to suggest surging forces. Towards the end of the 1980s he began to move towards single, dominating motifs; wave-like forms were particularly common. In the ...

Article

Suzaan Boettger

Vast environments constructed of earth, or markings on it, made from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. The largely young, male New York sculptors who created them extended minimalism’s arrays of units making interior ‘environments’ into open outdoor spaces. The earthen cuts and mounds were made on remote terrain of little economic worth, such as western deserts and, as materials that would provide structure and permanence were eschewed, earthworks’ forms were transient—either ephemeral or unstable.

Robert Smithson’s announcement in the June 1967 issue of Artforum that ‘The “boring”, like other “earth works” [two words], is becoming more and more important to artists. Pavements, holes, trenches, mounds, heaps, paths, ditches, roads, terraces, etc., all have an esthetic potential’ sparked this informal movement. A strong post-war economy, ensuing social optimism, and a baby-boomer, youth-driven, fervently anti-tradition, anti-Establishment, pro-innovation mood fuelled sculptors’ expansion of materials, locales, and scale. But while countering high culture, the earthworkers were not turning towards ‘nature’. Garnering cultural cachet due to the concurrence with nascent environmentalism and the hippies’ ‘back-to-nature’ movement, the ambitious sculptors specifically rejected connection to ‘Mother Nature’, an association they considered romantic and propagandistic but which was nevertheless adopted by critics as a catchy rationale. The works’ wilderness locales, coarse materials, and massive amounts of displaced earth demonstrate that these were not idyllic pastorals....

Article

Karen Kurczynski

The use of organic abstract form in sculpture evoking the gendered body through an emphasis on process and materials. Lucy Lippard coined the term for an article in Art International which formed the basis for an exhibition at Fischbach Gallery in New York in 1966. Eccentric abstraction signaled the onset of Post-minimalism. The exhibition included Alice Adams (b 1930), Louise Bourgeois, Lindsey Decker (1923–96), Eva Hesse, Gary Kuehn (b 1939), Jean Linder (b 1938), Bruce Nauman, Don Potts (b 1936), Keith Sonnier, and Frank Lincoln Viner (b 1937). Lippard defined eccentric abstraction as an exploration of sensuous experience, evoking intuitively some of the psychological themes explored by Surrealism but without Surrealism’s literary allusions and literal imagery. Instead of Surrealist-inspired assemblage, the accumulation of recognizable objects, eccentric abstraction explored the formal and material properties of nonobjective art. It drew on Minimalist themes of presenting a single, whole, unified form, the emphasis on phenomenological experience to create meaning, and the withdrawal of personal expression in favor of exploration of the material properties of contemporary industrial materials. Unlike in Minimalism, however, the materials favored by these artists, such as felt, latex, vinyl, rubber, or fiberglass, tended to evoke bodily properties such as softness, inflation, and droopiness. This work also drew on Pop art’s irreverence for established artistic methods and experiments with soft sculpture and materials previously considered kitsch or vulgar. Lippard referred to eccentric abstraction as a “non-sculptural style,” closer to abstract painting than to sculpture in part because of its active investigation of color, but producing three-dimensional objects which broke down the form–content dichotomy....

Article

(b New York, April 1, 1933; d Riverhead, NY, Nov 29, 1996).

American installation artist and painter. His father intended him to become a priest and from 1947 to 1952 he attended a seminary in Brooklyn, New York. In 1954 he studied at the University of Maryland Extension Program in Osan-Ni in Korea and in 1956 at the New College for Social Research in New York. He continued these art history studies in 1957–9 at Columbia University, New York, but was self-taught as an artist. His early work of the late 1950s and early 1960s was influenced by contemporary American art and included paintings with added objects.

By 1961 Flavin had begun to make Minimalist works using incandescent or fluorescent electric lights, such as Icon I (1961; see 1969 exh. cat., p. 125), which consisted of a monochrome painted wooden square with a fluorescent light mounted on the top edge. He frequently dedicated pieces to historic and contemporary art figures who inspired him. A series of ‘monuments’ dedicated to Russian Constructivist Vladimir Tatlin extended this technique into what became his mature style: installations, usually temporary, using white or coloured fluorescent light tubes (...

Article

Julia Robinson

(b Florence, 1935).

American choreographer of Italian birth. An influential choreographer in post-modern dance, Forti’s approach and formal language had an important impact on experimental art of the early 1960s, from Happenings to Minimalism. Born in Italy, her family escaped during World War II to Los Angeles. She attended Reed College before moving in 1956 with her husband, Robert Morris, to San Francisco. There she attended the famous Dance Workshop of Anna Halprin (b 1920), whose innovative approach proved critically influential to a generation of renowned dancer–choreographers. When Forti and Morris moved to New York in 1959–60 she studied with Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and, perhaps most importantly for her, Robert Ellis Dunn (1928–96). At this time, Forti also taught at a nursery school, and avidly studied the movement of children, importing it directly into her choreography.

A key member of the downtown experimental art scene, her work appeared in concerts at the Reuben Gallery (...

Article

Revised and updated by Margaret Barlow

(b Urbana, IL, March 31, 1942).

American performance artist, video artist, and writer. Graham founded the Daniels Gallery in New York and was its director from 1964 to 1965; there he came into contact with Minimalist artists such as Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, and Donald Judd. This led him to question the gallery structure and the art displayed and to experiment with conceptual art. From 1965 to 1969 he produced a series of works published in magazines, such as Schema (1966; Brussels, Daled priv. col., see 1988 exh. cat., p. 9). This series consisted merely of a descriptive list of its own contents, including the number of words, and so referred to nothing beyond itself, unlike Minimalist art that he believed referred to the surrounding display space. Furthermore, the magazine was, unlike a gallery, clearly related to time and change through its regular appearance and topicality.

From 1969 to 1978 Graham was primarily involved with performance, film, and video. His first performance took place at the Loeb Student Center at New York University 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

Deborah A. Middleton

(b Berkeley, CA, Nov 4, 1944).

American sculptor, painter, and printmaker. Heizer’s earthworks erected in the vast desert expanses of the American Midwest marked the beginning of the Heizer, Michael movement of the 1960s and liberated art from the confines of the art gallery. Heizer’s early experience and exposure to desert landscapes and Native American culture was influenced by his father Robert Heizer, an important American archaeologist, and his maternal grandfather Olaf P. Jenkins, who was an important early American geologist. He attended the San Francisco Art Institute (1963–4) to study painting and moved to New York (1966). In 1967 Heizer left New York to return to the American Midwest with colleague Walter De Maria, and began artistic collaborations with James Turrell and Robert Smithson to explore the making of land art.

Heizer’s early paintings explored the interaction of two-dimensional and three-dimensional geometric forms influenced by the Abstract Expressionists of the late 1940s and 1950s. By ...

Article

Klaus Ottmann

(b Torrington, CT, 1945).

American painter. He studied at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston from 1964 to 1966 before settling in New York. From 1967 to 1969 Jenney made Minimalist sculptural work using a variety of materials including electric light fixtures, corrugated tin sheeting, and aluminium. In the late 1960s, during a time when most young artists were abandoning painting for sculpture, performance, or conceptual art, Jenney began producing paintings enclosed by aggressively three-dimensional frames that continued to reveal his early training as a sculptor; in many cases the title of the work was displayed in bold letters on the frame itself. In the first such pictures he created blunt representation through wilfully artless brushwork, which he referred to as ‘bad paintings’. In Them and Us (1969; New York, MOMA), for example, the Cold War is symbolized by the images of a Soviet fighter airplane and an American set in an atmosphere of agitated brushwork. By the 1980s, when a younger generation of artists rediscovered painting, Jenney turned his attention toward the 19th-century landscape painting of the Luminists and the Hudson River School, adopting and refining their techniques (his so-called ‘good paintings’). From ...

Article

Alfred Pacquement

revised by Tom Williams

(b Excelsior Springs, MO, June 3, 1928; d New York, Feb 12, 1994).

American sculptor, painter, and writer. After a mandatory term in the US Army between 1946 and 1947, Judd spent brief periods studying art at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA (1948–9) and at the Art Students League in New York City (1948 and 1949). He subsequently completed a BA in philosophy (1950–53) at Columbia University and later returned to pursue, but not complete, an MA in art history (1958–60). In 1959, he began writing art criticism for publications such as ARTnews and Arts Magazine and, in the early 1960s, he was better known as a critic than as an artist. In this capacity, he became an enthusiastic supporter of artists such as Lee Bontecou, John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, Yayoi Kusama, Claes Oldenburg, and Frank Stella, and many of his essays played an important part in critical debates throughout the decade and during subsequent years. After his first one-man exhibition in ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Texas, 1950).

American sculptor. Lee came to prominence as a Minimalist in the 1970s. An interest in modernism and the monochrome, as well as a hostility to narrative, made the grid her starting point; following which she began to paint predominantly in black. In the mid-1980s she began to divide up her surfaces with dynamic diagonals and introduced more colour. Nututun (1989; see 1992–3 exh. cat., p. 11) is typical of this stage, when her work developed into wall reliefs: an irregular polygon in shape, it is divided into two fragments of amber-coloured, patinated bronze that partially enclose two smaller fragments of green-coloured bronze. By the end of the decade she was making wall reliefs composed of a number of small, shaped and differently coloured panels constructed from various metals, often arranged in large grid compositions. 40 Faults (1989; see 1992–3 exh. cat., pp. 42–3) consists of 40 large green–black patinated metal reliefs, similar to apostrophes in shape. In the late 1990s she began to produce free-standing sculpture, though the forms of the pieces were still predominantly flat and frontal. ...

Article

Jeremy Lewison

(b Hartford, CT, Sept 9, 1928; d New York, NY, April 8, 2007).

American sculptor, printmaker, and draughtsman. He studied at Syracuse University, NY, from 1945 to 1949, and between 1951 and 1952 he served in the US Army in Japan and Korea, where he was able to visit oriental shrines, temples, and gardens. In 1953 he moved to New York, where he attended the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. From 1955 to 1956 he worked as a graphic designer for the architect I. M. Pei, and he began to make paintings while continuing to work as a graphic designer. He abandoned painting in 1962 and began to make abstract black-and-white reliefs, followed in 1963 by relief constructions with nested enclosures projecting into space, and box- and table-like constructions. He first made the serial and modular works for which he is best known in 1965, an idea inspired in part by the photographs of Eadweard Muybridge. Initially these were wall and floor structures, but in ...

Article

Pauline I. A. Bullard

(b Bronxville, NY, Oct 15, 1938).

American painter and printmaker. He studied at Boston University School of Fine and Applied Arts, receiving his BFA in 1961, and from 1961 to 1963 at Yale University School of Art and Architecture in New Haven, CT. Settling in New York in 1963, in the following year he produced his first single-panel monochromatic paintings, such as Decorative Painting (1964; priv. col., see 1975 exh. cat., pl. 1), through which he contributed to the emerging aesthetic of Minimalism. In such works he reacted against the dominance of gestural techniques in second generation Abstract Expressionism by emphasizing the subtlety of surface and colour within the spatial and structural limits of the rectangle. Bringing together the painterly quality of Abstract Expressionism with the intellectual rigours of Minimalism, Marden achieved a balance between emotional intensity and formal simplicity.

In his early paintings Marden left a bare narrow margin at the bottom edge of the thickly worked surface of oil mixed with wax to allow the observer to be witness to the process. In later works such as ...

Article

Francis Summers

(b Berkeley, CA, Dec 9, 1934; d New York, NY, April 8, 2011).

American painter and sculptor. McCracken studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA, from 1957 to 1965. Associated with a form of West Coast Minimalism oriented more toward light and colour than the work of their New York counterparts, his greatest concern was with visual experience as a spiritual and cognitive process. Having begun as a painter, he moved toward a more object-based aesthetic, making rigorously abstract works that lie between coloured sculpture and painting; they take the form of basic gestalt objects, such as cubes or rectangles. One of his earliest works, Blue Post and Lintel (1965; see 1995 exh. cat. p. 7), used a basic building block of architectural form. Presented as perfectly finished objects, his characteristic works are monochromatic with extremely polished surfaces that seem at the same time to deny their own objecthood, almost becoming abstract visual ideas. His signature works are his ‘planks’, rectangular objects resting on the floor and leaning against a wall, such as ...

Article

Denise Carvalho

(b Rio de Janeiro, 1948).

Brazilian interventionist, multimedia, installation and conceptual artist, considered the most influential contemporary artist of his country. While international critics have compared his work with North American Minimalism and Conceptual art, Meireles insisted that art should be seductive. He studied at the National School of Fine Arts and at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro. Coming of age at a time of the military dictatorship in Brazil (1964–85), he circumvented strict state censorship with a series of interventionist works, adding politically charged texts and reinserting the works back into circulation.

Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola Project (1970) included Coca-Cola bottles with the added text ‘Yankees. Go Home!’ In Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Cédula Project (1970), the same message was printed on one dollar bills, and on the current Brazilian currency, the Cruzeiro. Some bills also queried ‘Who killed Herzog?’ referring to a Brazilian journalist who died while in police custody. Meireles’ series utilizes a mechanistic process of capitalistic insertion and circulation, adding phrases that question the methods and policies of the dictatorship. ...

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

Derrick R. Cartwright

(b Kansas City, MO, Feb 9, 1931).

American sculptor and painter. He studied (1948–50) at the University of Kansas City and then at the Kansas City Art Institute. By 1951 he was in San Francisco and attended the California School of Fine Arts, but he interrupted his studies after a year to serve in the Army Corps of Engineers. During his tour of duty he visited Arizona and Korea. In 1953 he moved to Reed College in Oregon, where he spent two years. He returned to San Francisco in 1955 and spent the rest of the decade engaged in experimental dance and improvisational theatre. His first one-man exhibition took place there in 1957. From 1961 to 1963 Morris studied art history at Hunter College in New York, where he settled.

Morris’s early sculpture tended to emphasize a banal repertoire of form and subject-matter, while attempting to investigate the role of language in artistic representation. Metered Bulb...

Article

Neo-Geo  

Tom Williams

[Neo-geometric; Neo-minimalism]

Term typically applied to a diverse group of artists that emerged in New York during the mid-1980s, including Ashley Bickerton, Ross Bleckner, Peter Halley, Jeff Koons, Allan McCollum, Haim Steinbach, Philip Taaffe and Meyer Vaisman. Although the artists associated with this term differ greatly from one another, it is frequently used in relation to two tendencies: on one hand, to artists that simulated modernist geometric abstraction and, on the other, to a group of appropriation artists who borrowed imagery from contemporary consumer culture. The term has sometimes been characterized as a marketing ploy, but it has also appeared in many retrospective accounts of the period. It is sometimes described as shorthand for New Geometry or Neo-Geometric Conceptualism and is often used more or less interchangeably with commodity art, Neo-Conceptualism, New Abstraction and Simulationism.

“Neo-Geo” was first used in reference to a 1986 exhibition at the Sonnabend Gallery in SoHo that included Bickerton, Halley, Koons and Vaisman. These artists were particularly associated with the emerging East Village art scene at the time, and the exhibition was discussed as the beginning of a new movement that would displace Neo-Expressionism as the dominant trend in the New York art world. Many of the artists associated with Neo-Geo were discussed in terms of the then-fashionable ideas about Postmodernism and hyperreality, particularly in reference to the writings of Jean Baudrillard, and their art was often described as a challenge to modernist conceptions of artistic originality. A number of these artists engaged in appropriating existing images, practices and materials, but they frequently challenged the accepted significance of these elements or imbued them with new meaning. Artists like Halley and McCollum adopted the geometry of modernist abstraction, for example, but rejected its metaphysical associations and instead used it to address mass production or institutional power. Halley, in particular, described his Day-Glo abstractions as a response to the geometric unreality of the highways, the prisons and the circuit boards of the postindustrial world. Along similar lines, McCollum produced multiple plaster casts of monochrome paintings that he referred to as “surrogates,” and he then displayed them in groups to call attention to their unoriginality and their manufactured character. Artists such as Bickerton and Koons, on the other hand, were more preoccupied with the contemporary consumer culture than with the infrastructures of power. Bickerton’s ...