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Greta Stroeh

[Jean] (Peter Wilhelm)

(b Strassburg, Germany [now Strasbourg, France], Sept 16, 1886; d Basle, Switzerland, June 7, 1966).

French sculptor, painter, collagist, printmaker, and poet of German birth. The son of a German father and French Alsatian mother, he developed a cosmopolitan outlook from an early age and as a mature artist maintained close contact with the avant-garde throughout Europe. He was a pioneer of abstract art and one of the founders of Dada in Zurich, but he also participated actively in both Surrealism and Constructivism. While he prefigured junk art and the Fluxus movement in his incorporation of waste material, it was through his investigation of biomorphism and of chance and accident that he proved especially influential on later 20th-century art in liberating unconscious creative forces.

Following a brief period at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Strasbourg (1900–01), Arp received instruction from 1901 from a friend and neighbour, the painter and printmaker Georges Ritleng (1875–1972). He then attended the Kunstschule in Weimar (1904–7) and the Académie Julian in Paris (...

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

Renato Barilli

(b Rosario, Santa Fé, Feb 19, 1899; d Comabbio, nr Varese, Sept 7, 1968).

Italian painter, sculptor and theorist of Argentine birth. He moved with his family to Milan in 1905 but followed his father back to Buenos Aires in 1922 and there established his own sculpture studio in 1924. On settling again in Milan he trained from 1928 to 1930 at the Accademia di Brera, where he was taught by the sculptor Adolfo Wildt; Wildt’s devotion to the solemn and monumental plasticity of the Novecento Italiano group epitomized the qualities against which Fontana was to react in his own work. Fontana’s sculpture The Harpooner (gilded plaster, h. 1.73 m, 1934; Milan, Renzo Zavanella priv. col., see 1987 exh. cat., p. 118) is typical of his work of this period, with a dynamic nervousness in the thin shape of the weapon poised to deliver a final blow and in the coarse and formless plinth. Soon afterwards, together with other northern Italian artists such as Fausto Melotti, Fontana abandoned any lingering Novecento elements in favour of a strict and coherent form of abstraction. In ...

Article

Éva Bajkay

(b Budapest, April 15, 1936).

Hungarian painter, conceptual artist and teacher. By 1956 he was familiar with most modernist tendencies. In 1960 he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest, having already taken part in exhibitions as an undergraduate. Lakner’s unique Hungarian mixture of Surrealism and naturalism was primarily influenced by the Hungarian painter Tibor Csernus (b 1927). Lakner’s first works were precisely executed naturalistic life studies and still-lifes, imbued with a magical quality (e.g. Scraps of Metal, 1960; Budapest, priv. col.). In other works repetition and density are used to create special effects. From 1962 the influence of Pop art is apparent in his works representing everyday objects, which lacked emotional or personal meaning (e.g. Microscopes, 1960; Budapest, N.G.). Dark tones and metallic shadows characterize his use of colour. Robert Rauschenberg’s art was influential after Lakner saw it at the Venice Biennale of 1964. He was also influenced by montage, in particular John Heartfield’s Dada and Neo-Dada works. He drew upon his knowledge of art history for such montages as ...