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Article

Renato Barilli

(b Borgofranco d’Ivrea, Piedmont, Aug 5, 1934).

Italian sculptor. After working as a painter from 1959 to 1964, he turned to conceptual art in 1965 and by 1968 was associated with the emergence of Arte Povera, of which he became one of the strictest and most coherent exponents. His limited output consisted largely of the staging of major physical processes whose long-term effects the audience was invited to imagine, in such a way that the non-material dimension of thought was brought to bear on bulky and spectacular physical phenomena. In Direction (150×500×800 mm, 1967–9; Paris, Pompidou), for instance, a magnetic compass is set within a circular recess of a slab of granite shaped like an arrowhead and displayed pointing north, thus proposing two different ways of expressing the concept alluded to by the title.

A consistent message in Anselmo’s work is that one should not entirely believe one’s eyes, since there is always a component that lies beyond appearances. In one sculpture, ...

Article

Tom Williams

[Art and Language]

Anglo-American group of conceptual artists . Art & Language was founded in Coventry in 1968 by Terry Atkinson (b 1939), David Bainbridge (b 1941), Michael Baldwin (b 1945), and Harold Hurrell (b 1940). Their name reflected their early aspiration to eliminate the accepted distinctions between artistic practice and critical discourse, and, in 1969, they pursued this aspiration by founding the theoretical journal Art-Language. During that same year, the group invited the conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth to serve as the journal’s American editor, and, in 1971, the art historian and critic Charles Harrison (1942–2009) joined the group and assumed editorial responsibility after leaving a position as editor at Studio International. During the same year as Harrison’s arrival, the group was also joined by Mel Ramsden (b 1944) and Ian Burn (1939–93) of the Society for Theoretical Art and Analysis in New York (although their collaboration had pre-dated this moment by a couple of years), and, until ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Thurnscoe, nr Barnsley, 1939).

British painter and sculptor. He studied at the Slade School of Art (1960–4). Atkinson first came to prominence as part of the conceptual art group Art and Language, of which he was a founding member, in 1967. His work at that time included both essays for the group’s journal and discussion, which resulted in works exhibited under the group’s name. Gradually he began to grow apart from the group’s interest in Conceptualism and he left in 1974. His work continued to pursue Art and Language’s concerns with politics, history painting and the recent history of Modernism, but he approached these issues through paintings and, often, accompanying texts. The Happy Snap–History Snap series (1984–5; see exh cat. 1985–6) is typical of his work in the mid-1980s: the broad handling and bright palette marked a distance from the traditional values of Beaux-Arts painting, while the content, drawn from photographs, sought to situate his family in the context of major historical events; World War II, the Cold War and the politics of North Ireland have been recurrent interests. Towards the end of the 1980s he became more interested in late Modernism and began to mix ostensibly formalist styles with historically specific events. ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Merseyside, June 23, 1966).

English sculptor and conceptual artist. She studied at Kingston Polytechnic, Surrey (1986–9), and at Goldsmiths’ College of Art in London (1992–3). She had her first solo exhibition at City Racing, London, in 1994, and in the following year was included in General Release: Young British Artists at the XLVI Venice Biennale. Banner came to prominence with her ‘wordscapes’, large text works that recount the plots of feature films or other events. The first of these was Top Gun (pencil on paper, 2.13×4.57 m, 1993), a hand-written account of the film Top Gun presented on a cinematic scale. The ‘wordscapes’ led to the publication in 1997 of The Nam, 1000 pages of continuous text describing the Vietnam war movies Apocalypse Now, Born on the Fourth of July, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Hamburger Hill and The Deer Hunter. This unreadable text points to the excess of violence in such films, the numbing of critical faculties, as well as the mythologizing and fictionalizing framing devices used to interpret historical events. Towards the end of the 1990s she became interested in the implications of punctuation signs, dwelling on their qualities as abstract marks that give structure to text. By selecting a variety of fonts, enlarging the full stop signs to ...

Article

M. Dolores Jiménez-Blanco

(b Felanitx, Mallorca, 1957).

Spanish painter . He studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Barcelona from 1974 and produced his early work in the context of conceptual art groups in Mallorca. He achieved international recognition at an early age, taking part in major group exhibitions such as Documenta 7 (Kassel, 1982) as an important figure within the neo-Expressionist currents then gaining ground in Europe and especially in Germany and Italy; in 1985 he was the first artist under 30 to be awarded the Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. His typical paintings, such as Stevenson and Baudelaire with Agaarium (mixed media on canvas, 2×2 m, 1984; Paris, priv. col., see 1985 exh. cat., p. 57), are literary and cosmopolitan in their references, with a rigorous construction in conflict with the material, rough quality of his surfaces, which he regarded as his real subject.

Miquel Barceló (exh. cat. by ...

Article

Eduardo Serrano

(b Cartagena, Oct 27, 1945).

Colombian painter, sculptor and conceptual artist. He studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes of the University of Atlántico in Barranquilla, Colombia, from 1958 to 1960, and in Italy from 1966 to 1967 at the University of Perugia. In 1966, under the influence of Pop art, he made the first of a series of collages combining cut-outs of well-known individuals and comic strips with drawn elements. Two years later he added frosty effects and velvet flowers to his interpretations in black and red ink of figures with distorted bodies and the faces of film stars. In 1969 he began to present these in increasingly three-dimensional boxes or glass cases, accompanied by clouds of cotton wool, plastic figures and other additions that combined to make up fantastic or nostalgic scenes, dream-like and surrealist in appearance and tone.

Barrios was among those who introduced conceptual art to Colombia, for example by publishing in newspapers a series of ...

Article

Sanja Cvetnić

(Mića) [Mangelos]

(b Šid, Serbia, March 14, 1921; d Zagreb, Croatia, Dec 18, 1987).

Croatian art historian, critic, curator, and conceptual artist. His father was the landowner Ilija Bašičević Bosilj, who became a ‘naïve’ painter in the 1950s. Dimitrije studied art history in Vienna, than Zagreb. He graduated from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb with the PhD in Art History in 1956. In the fierce polemics about abstract art in the 1950s, he sided with those promoting abstraction. He not only wrote about it, but also participated in organizing Salon 54, the first group exhibition of abstract paintings in Croatia (and the former Yugoslavia), which was held in Rijeka in 1954. From 1960 until 1964 he was a curator at the Gallery of Primitive Art (now Croatian Museum of Naïve Art). In 1965 he became a curator of the Benko Horvat Collection within the Galleries of the City of Zagreb (now Museum of Contemporary Art) and, when its Centre for Film, Photography and Television opened in ...

Article

C. Nagy

(b Budapest, Oct 26, 1941).

Hungarian painter, photographer and conceptual artist. He studied under Géza Fónyi at the Fine Art College in Budapest and then from 1966 to 1972 produced portraits, in which the influence of Expressionism was noticeable. From 1973 to 1979, however, he moved in a different direction, producing films, photographic sequences and textual conceptual works, all based on structuralist analysis of pictorial representation and of the institutions of the exhibition and the museum (e.g. the photographic sequences Inquiries on the Exterior Wall of the Museum of Fine Arts, 1975–6; and Reflections, 1976). From 1975 to 1980 he was involved in the Indigo project led by Miklós Erdély, but in 1980 he returned to oil painting, producing abstract works divided into two or three sections and often symmetrical in composition. At first these were vividly coloured, using bold brushstrokes and inspired by the Hungarian landscape, but later works were dominated by schematic representations of the human face, reduced after ...

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Turin, Dec 16, 1940; d Rome, April 1994).

Italian conceptual artist and writer. According to his own mythologized account, his fascination with the qualities of ordinary materials began during childhood. Although the extent of any orthodox artistic training remains unrecorded, by 1964 he was making objects and silhouette paintings of familiar items, influenced by such Turinese contemporaries as Michelangelo Pistoletto and Mario Merz. His first one-man show (1967; Turin, Gal. Stein) included large objects made from materials such as corrugated cardboard, whose very ordinariness undermined orthodox notions of art. From the outset he participated in Arte Povera exhibitions and Happenings, in which a generation of Italian conceptual artists reinvented a world then in political turmoil. Boetti’s self-reflexive brand of Arte Povera was typified by his notional ‘twinning’: by cutting a second image of himself into a photographic self-portrait (Twins, 1968; see 1986–7 exh. cat., p. 19) and by inserting ‘e’ (‘and’) between his names, stimulating a dialectic exchange between these two selves. Boetti’s major project of the 1970s was ...

Article

Anda Rottenberg

(b Kurów, Sept 7, 1930).

Polish painter, sculptor and conceptual artist. In 1952–5 he studied art history at the Catholic University in Lublin. He was self-taught as an artist, and he made his first works at about the time of the formation of the group Zamek (Castle or Lock), which comprised young artists and theoreticians interested in the structural properties of works of art. His first pictures are abstracts with expressive subject-matter, usually executed in black (e.g. the Feast of Nebuchadnezzar, 1957; priv. col.)

In 1958 Borowski turned from pictures to objects. Using plastic odds and ends as ready-mades, he produced his first Artony—compositions from ikebana bowls, small plates and pieces of wire joined together with the intention of giving them the autonomy of living organisms. He subsequently added movement, electric light, fluid circulating in transparent tubes, and smells. The Manilusy (1963) were environments of loosely hung pieces of mirror distorting spatial perception and drawing the viewer into a game of illusion. These were soon followed by a series of ‘Syncretic Exhibitions’, which by ...

Article

Alfred Pacquement

(b Boulogne-Billancourt, Seine-et-Oise, March 25, 1938).

French painter and conceptual artist. He graduated from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Métiers d’Art, Paris, in 1960. After 1966 he developed an aesthetic form that rejected all formal exploration and gave importance solely to the positioning of the work of art. In particular he devised the formula of alternating white and coloured vertical stripes. This became his exclusive mark, at first as a member of the BMPT group with Olivier Mosset (b 1944), Parmentier and Niele Toroni (b 1937). He painted his stripes on a whole range of different supports in various inappropriate settings. After abandoning the idea of painting as object he proposed a critical analysis of painting that would henceforth be like wallpaper pasted up in the streets of Paris, rather like the huge canvas stretched across the middle of the Guggenheim Museum in New York (1971). In his many installations in galleries and museums as well as in the open or in the city, he responded to the surrounding space or the context of an exhibition with great acuity. His work often has a decorative quality, as can be seen in his controversial creation in the courtyard of the Palais Royal in Paris, ...

Article

Hilary Gresty

(b Sheffield, July 24, 1941).

English conceptual artist, writer and photographer. He studied painting at the Royal College of Art from 1962 to 1965 and philosophy and fine art at Yale University from 1965 to 1967. From the late 1960s he adhered to Conceptual art using combinations of photographic images and printed texts to examine the relationship between apparent and implicit meaning. In his ...

Article

Marta Zarzycka

(b Paris, Oct 9, 1953).

French photographer, writer, and conceptual artist. Calle’s work engages with absence of others, either loved ones or strangers. Her frequent use of street photography, scene-of-the-crime photography, surveillance cameras, and archival photography lend a documentary character to her work. The stories she tells in that documentary mode, however, are often mysterious and their relationship to reality remains uncertain.

In her art, Calle often acts as the pursuer or voyeur; on other occasions she places herself directly under the observation of others. One of her early works, Suite Vénitienne (1980), involved following someone that she had met at a party in Paris to Venice, without his knowledge. The photographic documentation of the project raised questions as to whether the man’s identity could be revealed by his day-to-day movements through the city, as well as imitating ironically the behaviour of unrequited love. The French philosopher Jean Baudrillard wrote an essay (...

Article

Julia Detchon

(b Lübeck, 1937).

Uruguayan conceptual artist, critic, educator, and curator of German birth, active in the USA. Of Jewish ancestry, he fled with his family to Uruguay in 1939. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1953–1957 and 1959–1962, working with students to reform the school’s curriculum. In 1961, a Guggenheim fellowship took him to New York to study printmaking. Though he retained his Uruguayan citizenship, he settled permanently in New York, where he taught at the Pratt Graphics Art Center; co-founded the New York Graphic Workshop in 1964 with Liliana Porter (b 1941) and José Guillermo Castillo (1938–1999); and in 1971 helped establish New York’s Museo Latinoamericano and its subsequent splinter group, the Movimiento de Independencia Cultural de Latino América. From the 1970s, political repression in Latin America inspired a series of conceptual installations that addressed such issues as language, identity, freedom, political violence, and the role of art. For Camnitzer, the task of the artist was to identify and express the problems that surrounded him, transforming art into a political instrument. His questioning of traditional values applied not only to the themes of his work, but to its material form; employing objects of little intrinsic value, he rejected traditional notions of art as beautiful and of commercial worth....

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Padua, Jan 6, 1960).

Italian sculptor and conceptual artist. He received no formal art training and before beginning to work as an artist in the late 1980s he had been through a variety of jobs, from nurse to cook to mortuary attendant. Seeing art more as a series of interventions than as based on the creation of objects, Cattelan devised comic and absurdist ideas; he has been likened to a jester, and his anarchic streak clearly reveals the influence of Dada. Virtually all of his commissioned work has been made to test rules, regulations and customs in art world institutions, pushing their limits, satirizing them and exposing the power structures that underpin them. Institutional sponsors were typical targets: in 1992 his project Fondazione Oblomov, working through the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, solicited money from donors to provide an artist’s prize, the stipulation being that the artist exhibit no work for a year. In ...

Article

Catherine M. Grant

(b London, Nov 8, 1965).

English conceptual artist, photographer and film maker. He studied History of Art at Manchester University (1985–8) and Fine Art at Goldsmiths’ College, London (MFA, 1992–4). In 1990 he began a series of works by placing advertisements in the London magazine Loot and various newspapers, inviting people who thought they looked like God to send in their picture; this evolved into The God Look-Alike Contest (1992–3; London, Saatchi Gal.), exhibited in the Sensation exhibition (London, RA, 1997) and consisting of the original advertisement and the responses he received. For Involva (1995; see 1999 exh. cat., pp. 19–21), he advertised in a sex contacts magazine, illustrating a drawing of a woodland clearing with the caption ‘Please will you join me here?’. He then photographed the letters he had in reply in a clearing similar to the one shown in his announcement. The process of asking a question that at first appears naive or absurd is a key strategy in Chodzko’s work, the final form of which is the product of other people’s imaginations. In the late 1990s he began to target specific groups for his projects, as in ...

Article

Francis Summers

American photographers and conceptual artists of Irish and Israeli birth. Collaborating under a corporate-sounding name, Michael Clegg (b Dublin, 1957) and Martin Guttman (b Jerusalem, 1957) began making photographs together in 1980. Using corporate group portraits as their resource material, they made constructed photographs in the manner of 17th-century Dutch paintings. A Group Portrait of the Executives of a World Wide Company (1980; see 1989 exh. cat., p. 33) shows five suited men seated in a brooding darkness, their heads and hands illuminated in a chiaroscuro effect. The reference to historical paintings is made particularly explicit in The Art Consultants (1986; see 1989 exh. cat., p. 37): the figures are posed directly in front of a canvas so as to mirror the painted figures, illustrating Clegg & Guttman’s proposition that within the hierarchies of power, the essential nature of pose, emblems and dress have remained relatively unchanged for centuries. Pushing these images to the point of indetermination, Clegg & Guttman also occasionally carried out actual commissions (although not always successfully), as well as creating collaged and altered portraits such as ...

Article

(b Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon, July 6, 1941).

Irish conceptual artist. He studied from 1960 to 1961 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, then at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, and from 1963 to 1966 at the National College of Art, Dublin. A scholarship to Italy allowed him to complete his studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Milan from 1966 to 1971, subsequently making this city his main home and holding his first exhibition there in 1968. From the early 1970s Coleman made installations using audio tapes, slides and projected film to investigate social and political themes. His Slide Piece (1973, exh. Paris Biennale, 1973, and London, Tate, 1982) presents a series of identical colour images of a street, with a recorded commentary describing visible features from different subjective viewpoints, so that a dialogue is set up between the sameness of each total image and the different details to which our attention is drawn. Another installation, ...

Article

Nancy Ring

(b Munich, April 29, 1941; d Hamburg, March 9, 2009)

German conceptual artist. She moved to New York in 1965, after studying at the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst in Hamburg, and began to produce delicate point and line drawings that gave form to sets of mathematical calculations. Although she lived in almost total solitude, her work became part of a collective effort to replace the discrete art object with Conceptual art, grounded in ideas and actions. In the late 1960s she began to use the divisions of the calendar as the conceptual basis of her art. One Month, One Year, One Century (1971; Aachen, Neue Gal.) consists of 402 books, each containing series of numbers extrapolated from a single date and grouped with other volumes to represent months, years, and finally a whole century. Her books and mounted images, painstakingly handwritten, embody not only an abstract span of time but also the actual time of the artist’s labour.

In the 1970s Darboven often allied her work, which she considered a form of writing, to the accomplishments of writers such as Heinrich Heine and Jean-Paul Sartre, directly transcribing portions of their texts or translating them into patterns. She further expanded her scope by including musical arrangements and photographs in her displays. In the ...

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Ancona, 1947).

Italian conceptual and performance artist. At 17 he mounted his own exhibition (1964; Ancona, Gal. D.D.), before moving to Rome where he was influenced by Arte Povera. His one-man show (1969; Rome, Gal. Attico), for which he published an obituary announcing his death, included traces of ‘invisible objects’: a square outlined on the floor constituted Invisible Pyramid. Such dematerialization was associated with mortality, with which de Domenicis was primarily concerned, investigated through autobiography and self-portraiture, as well as through juxtapositions of Urvasi, the Hindu goddess of beauty, and the partially divine Ghilgamesh, who sought immortality in vain. Invisibility became a paradoxical and primary conceptual means: D’io (‘of me’/‘God’, 1971) filled the Galleria L’Attico with a recording of laughter. Having included live animals in his Zodiac exhibition (1970; Rome, Gal. Attico), de Domenicis increasingly used people to embody such concepts as ageing (e.g. the opposition of a young and an old man at Incontri Internazionale d’Arte, Rome, ...