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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

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

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

Michelle Yun

[ James, Christopher Mallory ]

(b Vineburg, CA, June 11, 1943; d New York, NY, Nov 17, 1987).

American sculptor. Born Christopher Mallory James, Wilmarth moved to New York in 1960 to attend the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. He took a year off in 1962 after the suicide of his brother but returned, receiving a BA in 1965. There he met and later married fellow artist Susan Rabineau. Wilmarth worked briefly as a studio assistant for Tony Smith from 1967 to 1969. He was appointed an adjunct instructor of art at Cooper Union in 1969, where he taught until 1980.

Wilmarth’s Minimalist sculptures composed of glass and metal are meditations on light and space. A critical turning point occurred when he first introduced glass into his sculptures in 1967. These early constructions made from highly polished birch and sheets of tempered glass were inspired by his work as a cabinetmaker. The atmospheric translucence of glass achieved by etching the surface with hydrofluoric acid captivated the artist and by ...

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 ...