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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morgan Falconer

revised by Mary Chou

(b Tokyo, 1962).

Japanese painter and sculptor. He studied at Tokyo National University of Fine Art and Music (BFA 1986, MFA 1988, PhD 1993). Murakami began to gain recognition as a sculptor in the early 1990s. Drawing on Minimalism and conceptual art, his work often explored the clash between contemporary Japanese and American culture. Sea Breeze (1992), which was made in response to an island location, consists of a large trailer with shutters that open to emit a powerful light; it suggests something of the aggressive, sardonic character of his work, as well as the influence of commercial display. In the late 1990s Murakami gained more recognition as a painter, and began to blend abstraction and cartoon imagery in highly coloured images painted in flat space. Some works are abstract: Cream (1998) depicts a long skein of blue-white seminal fluid flying across a pink backdrop. Others, such as ...

Article

Doug Singsen

(b New York, New York, 1941).

American sculptor. Shapiro received a BA in 1964 and an MA in 1969, both from New York University. From 1965 to 1967, Shapiro worked with the Peace Corps in India. While there, he saw many examples of Indian sculpture, which helped spur his decision to become an artist. In 1967, Shapiro married Amy Snider, an art educator, with whom he had a daughter, Ivy, in 1969; the couple separated in 1972. In the early 1970s, Shapiro befriended artists Elizabeth Murray and Jennifer Bartlett and gallery owner Paula Cooper, who gave Shapiro his first solo exhibition in 1970.

Shapiro’s work between 1968 and 1972 was strongly influenced by Process art , and Eva Hesse in particular, as seen in Shapiro’s Two Hands Forming (1971; artist’s col.), a circle of clay balls placed on the floor, which closely resembles Hesse’s Sequel (1967–8; Chicago, IL, A. Inst.). Other works made by Shapiro during this time included smeared and dripped paintings, nylon string sculptures and a number of metal sculptures influenced by Richard Serra....

Article

Michael Turner

(b Kibbutz Mesilot, June 4, 1946).

Israeli sculptor. He studied painting in Tel Aviv with Rafi Levi (b 1936). Visiting New York in 1973, he confronted the idioms of Minimalism, and devoted his time to creating site-specific sculptures. Back in Israel he started a period of activity with the series Tables (e.g. Arrangement of Six, wood, 1973–4; artist’s col., see 1991 exh. cat., p. 23), in which he placed ‘furniture’ and images in specific sites. This theme developed the problems of perception into the relationship of the sculpture within architectural space, his kibbutz utilitarianism of bare essentials generating inductive thinking. His painting background reintegrated itself into his next sculpture series, Narcissus (e.g. 1980; Jerusalem, Israel Mus.; 1982; Tel Aviv, Mus. A.), in which long bars of wood were interconnected, giving the impression of line-drawings in space. In 1984 he reintroduced colour into his work with a sculptural series entitled Boat, Bridge and Yellow Chair...

Article

Doug Singsen

(b Baltimore, MD, March 16, 1921; d Washington, DC, Dec 23, 2004).

American sculptor. Truitt was raised in the town of Easton on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She received a BA in psychology from Bryn Mawr College, where she graduated cum laude in 1943. In 1947, she married James McConnell Truitt, a journalist, whose career caused the couple to relocate frequently in subsequent years.

Truitt’s artistic training began in 1945 with night classes in sculpture in Boston. She continued her studies at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Washington, DC, in 1949–50, where she studied with Alexander Giampietro (1912–2010) and befriended fellow student Kenneth Noland . In the early 1950s she also studied with Octavio Medellin (1907–99) at the Museum School in Dallas, with Peter Lipman-Wulf (1905–93) in New York City, and with Noland and Peter Blanc in Washington, DC. Throughout the 1950s, Truitt experimented with a wide variety of materials and styles in sculpture and drawing.

After living in San Francisco from ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Fukuoka, 1959).

Japanese sculptor. He studied at Musashino Art University, Tokyo, and completed a fellowship in sculpture at Yale University, New Haven, CT, in 1990. Initially Yanagi was influenced by the Minimalist and Conceptualist orientation of the Japanese Monoha movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s; soon after he became known for a series of performances using coloured gas. He rose to international prominence in the 1990s following the success of a number of seminal installations that employed ants as metaphors for global migration. In the Wandering Position series (begun in 1989) Yanagi used chalk to trace out the path of an ant as it moved about a circumscribed area. The World Flag Ant Farm (1990; first exh. Venice Biennale, 1993; see 1996 exh. cat., p. 37) elaborated on his ideas through an installation that comprised a complex of wall-mounted plexiglass boxes filled with coloured sand depicting a number of national flags. He added ants to the boxes, allowing them to crawl around and move the sand from one box to another via transparent tubes, thus progressively destroying the integrity of the flags. Yanagi’s interest in the nation state developed throughout the 1990s to encompass other themes, including ideology, nationalism and the construction of cultural difference. In ...

Article

Julia Robinson

(b Bern, ID, Oct 13, 1935).

American composer. Young was an exponent of experimental “drone” music and an originator of Minimalism (whose diverse practitioners include Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass). Educated at the University of California, Los Angeles (1957–8), he completed his graduate studies in composition at the University of California, Berkeley. An avid and talented jazz musician, Young performed with legendary figures Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. In 1959, he attended Summer Courses at Darmstadt, the center of New Music, taking advanced composition with Karlheinz Stockhausen. There he discovered the work of John Cage and met Cage’s great interpreter David Tudor, who put Young in contact with Cage. Back in California, Young presented Cage’s work, adopting some of his radical strategies in his own music. A landmark Young composition of this period is Poem for Tables, Chairs, Benches, etc. (1960), a piece of indeterminate duration.

In 1960 Young moved to New York and galvanized a receptive circle of Cage-inspired artists and composers. Young’s most significant contribution to this milieu were his ...