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Mary M. Tinti

(b Houston, TX, 1951).

American sculptor, installation and conceptual artist. His multimedia works investigate the pathology of contemporary culture. Mel Chin was born and raised in Houston, Texas to parents of Chinese birth and received his BA in 1975 from the Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee. The works in Chin’s oeuvre are diverse in both medium and subject, but a consistent undercurrent of social, political, and environmental responsibility runs throughout. Whether a sculpture, film, video game, installation, public project or earthwork, Chin’s artworks consistently targeted a broad spectrum of pressing cultural and ecological interests and spread their message in subtle, if not viral ways.

In the 1980s, Chin produced a number of sculptures that set the stage for his ever-evocative artistic journey. The Extraction of Plenty from What Remains: 1823 (1988–9) is a frequently referenced piece from this period. It is a symbolic encapsulation of the effects of the Monroe Doctrine, referencing the complicated dealings between the US (represented by truncated replicas of White House columns) and Central America (represented by a cornucopia of mahogany branches, woven banana-tree fiber, and a surface layer of hardened blood, mud, and coffee grinds). From the 1990s, however, Chin moved away from strictly gallery-based installations and began creating works that directly engaged contemporary culture in a variety of physical and theoretical landscapes....

Article

(b Budapest, 1931).

American conceptual and environmental artist of Hungarian birth. She was educated in Sweden and the USA. In much of her work she presented analytical propositions in visual form, seeking to re-evaluate existing knowledge, and her work came to be seen as a process of investigation, incorporating both philosophy and science but also using elements of myth. In her book Map Projections she relinquished accepted forms of knowledge of the planet earth and sought new possibilities, presenting them in the form of drawings. Thus, for example, ‘longitude and latitude lines were unravelled, points of intersection cut, continents allowed to drift, gravity tampered with [and] earth mass altered.’ The element of game-playing in this was important, as was the belief in the possibility of changing our understanding of the world. Denes felt it was important to ‘accept the possibility that there may be no language to describe ultimate reality, beyond the language of visions’ (e.g. ...

Article

Margaret Barlow

(b Gallipolis, OH, July 29, 1950).

American installation and conceptual artist. Her studies included general art courses at Duke University, Durham, NC (1968–70), and then painting, printmaking, and drawing at the University of Chicago before completing her BFA at Ohio University, Athens (1972). In 1974 she took summer courses at the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, entering its MFA programme in 1975 and beginning her first work with language, installation, and public art. Holzer moved to New York in 1977. Her first public works, Truisms (1977–9), appeared in the form of anonymous broadsheets pasted on buildings, walls, and fences in and around Manhattan. Commercially printed in cool, bold italics, numerous one-line statements such as ‘Abuse of power comes as no surprise’ and ‘There is a fine line between information and propaganda’, were meant to be provocative and elicit public debate. Thereafter Holzer used language and the mechanics of late 20th-century communications as an assault on established notions of where art should be shown, with what intention and for whom (e.g. ...

Article

Alfred Pacquement

International art form that developed particularly from the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was part of a revolt against painting and sculpture and the anti-formalist current of the late 1960s that included Conceptual art and Arte Povera. A number of mainly British and North American artists turned their attention to working directly with nature, notably Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Smithson, and Richard Long. They created immense sculptures on the same scale as landscape itself, or exhibited written and photographic accounts of their excursions. With few exceptions, their works (also known as Earthworks) are almost inaccessible, situated far from human settlements in deserts or abandoned areas. Their lifespan was brief: little by little they were destroyed by the elements and often by erosion, so that for posterity they exist only in the form of preparatory drawings, photographs, or films. The works themselves were seen by only a small number of people and sometimes by only the artist....

Article

David Spalding

(b Ha Tien, Nov 16, 1968).

Vietnamese conceptual artist. Lê was born near the Cambodian border, but fled with his family when his hometown was invaded by the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Lê moved to Los Angeles and studied photography at the University of California, Santa Barbara and received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York in 1992. In 1989, while at the University of California, Lê enrolled in a class on the Vietnam War (1955–75) that emphasized American hardship. This sparked Lê’s earliest public art project, Accountability, a series of posters that Lê put up on his college campus (reproduced in 1992 for Creative Time, New York, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles). These posters juxtaposed American media images of the Vietnam War with explicit pictures of Vietnamese suffering, accompanied by captions detailing the damage done to Vietnam. The desire to intervene in dominant perceptions of the Vietnam War propelled Lê for much of his artistic career....

Article

(b Mason City, WA, Sept 6, 1938; d New York, NY, Jan 21, 2011).

American conceptual and performance artist. He studied art at California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA (1959–64) and at Stanford University, Stanford, CA (1964–5). His early work was Land art and involved large-scale outdoor projects documented by photographs. In Directed Seeding—Cancelled Crop (1969; see 1974 exh. cat.), he organized the planting of a field of wheat at Finsterwolde in Holland according to a specific pattern and then had a huge cross shape harvested out of the grown crop. He prevented any of the crop from being sold, an act he likened to ‘stopping raw pigment from becoming an illusionistic force on canvas’ (1974 exh. cat.). In the early 1970s he turned to such performance works as Reading Position for Second Degree Burn (1970; see 1974 exh. cat.), in which he lay in the sun for five hours with a book across his chest so that his skin burned, leaving a silhouette of the book. He saw this as a form of painting....