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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

Wystan Curnow

[Bates, Barrie]

(b Auckland, Jan 1, 1935).

New Zealand sculptor and conceptual artist. He studied at the Royal College of Art in London in the early 1960s and first showed his work alongside that of fellow students such as David Hockney and Derek Boshier, helping to mark the emergence of British Pop art. The pseudonym that he adopted in 1962 reflected his obsession with different ways of representing fruit. On moving in 1964 to New York he began to produce neon versions of popular icons. In 1970 he established Apple as one of New York’s first artist-run ‘alternative’ art spaces.

The conceptual element in Apple’s early Pop work became dominant in the late 1960s and 1970s. From 1975 to 1980 he concentrated on the deconstruction of the ‘white cube’ gallery exhibition space, proposing alterations to or actually changing existing interiors, notably at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York (1977, 1978, 1980) and at a number of public galleries in New Zealand (...

Article

Francis Summers

(b Karachi, 1935).

Pakistani conceptual artist, sculptor, painter, writer and curator, active in England. He graduated in civil engineering from the University of Karachi in 1962 and moved to London in 1964. He began working as an artist without any formal training, producing sculptures influenced by Minimalism and by his engineering experience; the four-part Boo (1969; Liverpool, Walker A. G.), with its cage-like compartments, recalls in particular the work of Sol LeWitt. In 1972, appalled by the institutionalized racism that he found to be endemic in Britain, he became interested in radical politics and joined the Black Panther movement. Six years later he founded and began editing the journal Black Phoenix, which, in 1989, was transformed into Third Text, one of the most important journals dealing with art, the third world, post-colonialism and ethnicity. He continued to contribute to and edit Third Text, and was one of the pivotal figures in establishing a black voice in the British arts through his activities as a publisher, writer and artist. His performance ...

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

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

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

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

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

James Smalls

(b Somerville, NJ, 1955).

African American sculptor, printmaker, and conceptual artist. He grew up in New Jersey and attended the Boston University School of Fine Arts, the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League of New York City. Cole is best known for assembling and transforming ordinary domestic objects, such as irons, ironing boards, high-heeled shoes, lawn jockeys, hair dryers, bicycle parts and other discarded appliances and hardware into imaginative and powerful configurations and installations embedded with references to the African American experience and inspired by West African religion, mythology and culture. Visual puns and verbal play characterized his works, thereby creating layered meanings. The objects he chose were often discarded mass-produced American products that had themselves acquired an alternate history through their previous handling and use.

In 1989, he became attracted to the motif of the steam iron both for its form and for its perceived embodiment of the experience and history of the unknown persons who had previously used it. He referred to the earliest versions of these irons as ‘Household Gods’ and ‘Domestic Demons’. With them, he engaged with ideas utilizing not only the found object but also the repetitive scorch mark of the iron arranged in either purely decorative patterns or in such ways as to suggest a face or African mask (...

Article

Annamaria Szőke

(b Budapest, July 4, 1928; d Budapest, May 22, 1986).

Hungarian architect, sculptor, conceptual and performance artist, teacher, theorist and film maker. He came from a Jewish–Christian family, many of whom were killed during World War II. In 1947 he began training as a sculptor at the College of Fine Arts in Budapest, but he left and continued his studies in the studio of Dezső Birman Bokros (1889–1965), before training as an architect from 1947 to 1951 at the Technical University in Budapest. During the 1950s and early 1960s he worked as an architect and began experimenting with painting and graphic art, as well as writing poems and short stories. During this period he became acquainted with such artists as Dezső Korniss, László Latner and, most importantly, Béla Kondor and Sándor Altorjai (1933–79), with whom he began a lifelong friendship. In 1959 and 1963 he also enrolled at the Budapest College of Theatre and Film Arts but was advised to leave both times....

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Turin, Nov 20, 1936; d Milan, June 23, 2007).

Italian sculptor, conceptual artist and writer. He frequented artistic circles in Udine in the mid-1950s. In 1958 Fabro saw Lucio Fontana’s contribution to the Venice Biennale and the following year moved to Milan, where he discovered the work of Yves Klein and Francesco Lo Savio and was closely associated with Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani. Their investigations of matter and space influenced Fabro’s idea of the artist as a facilitator of experiences without preconceived categories. After tentative early works, he embarked upon austere pieces that encapsulated phenomenological problems, such as The Hole (1963; artist’s col.), a mirror with the reflective coating partially scraped away. While the scraping mimicked the techniques of Art informel, the fusion of reflection and the recession, seen through the suspended glass, was indebted to Duchamp. His first one-man show (1965; Milan, Gal. Vismara) combined mirror pieces with the Spatial Lines, which demarcated their environment with tubular metal (e.g. ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Northampton, March 4, 1945; d Feb 13, 2014).

English sculptor. She studied at Northampton School of Art, Ravensborne College of Art, and Chelsea School of Art. Finn-Kelcey’s work was profoundly shaped by the concerns of British conceptual art of the early 1970s, which she continued to address even if the mediums through which she did so changed over the years. One of her earliest works comprised a series of flags, which she referred to as ‘wind-blown objects’, flown from prominent locations as a way of drawing attention not to themselves but to the elements around them: Fog (1971; see 1992–3 exh. cat.) was one such. Performance and the idea of ‘vacated’ performance (created without actors or the artist being present) were always important to her. One of her earliest works, One for Sorrow, Two for Joy (first performed London, Acme Gal., 1976; see 1992–3 exh. cat.) involved trying to converse with a magpie; this soon led to a series of other works involving magpies. In the early 1980s her work often conveyed allegories of power: ...

Article

Ađalsteinn Ingólfsson

(b Dalir, west Iceland, Feb 19, 1943).

Icelandic painter, sculptor, photographer and conceptual artist, active in the Netherlands. He studied at the Myndlista- og handíÐaskóli Íslands (Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts), Reykjavík (1958–60), in Rome (1966–7) and in Limoges (1970–71), after which he moved to the Netherlands. He was one of the founding members of the Icelandic avant-garde group SÚM and he took part in its first exhibition in 1965. His early work consists of emblematic abstract paintings, enlivened with three-dimensional elements such as nails or rope (e.g. Painting; 1966, Reykjavík, N.G.). When he developed an interest in conceptual art, FriÐfinnsson began to use photography as a medium for concretizing his ideas, which derive from Icelandic myth and folklore as well as from dreams and poetry.

FriÐfinnsson’s House Project (1974) was suggested by a story by the Icelandic writer Thórbergur ThórÐarson about an old man who wanted to build an inside-out house. FriÐfinnsson built a house that fitted this description at a secret venue in Iceland and then photographed it (see ...

Article

Anthony Gardner

(b Singapore, July 12, 1959).

Malaysian conceptual artist, active also in Australia. Gill studied at the University of Western Sydney, completing her MA in 2001. Despite working in a range of media, she is best understood as a process-based artist who has consistently explored notions of migration and transformation within material culture. These include the effects of international trade on such everyday activities as cooking and eating. The spiral form of Forking Tongues (1992; Brisbane, Queensland A.G.), for example, entwines Western cutlery and dried chillies from the Americas and Asia, highlighting how foods and utensils from across the globe have come together to transform local cuisines and inform culinary habits. Gill’s later photographic series refer to other understandings of migration, such as the spread of the English language or of capitalist desire throughout South-east Asia in recent decades. For Forest (1998; Sydney, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery; see Chua), Gill cut out words and sentences from books written in English, placed the texts within tropical landscapes and photographed the results before the books’ paper began rotting into the humid environment. For ...

Article

Michael Turner

(b Cluj, Romania, Jan 21, 1947).

Israeli conceptual sculptor. After studying at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem (1966–9) he completed his studies (1969–72) at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Milan. He returned to Israel in 1978, intent on cutting his connections with the Western mainstream to develop an artistic language based on a strong conceptual attitude and opposed to the then dominant trend towards figurative painting. This language was conceived as parallel to textual expressions being formulated at that time in Italy. The relationship between object and text subsequently became more intricate, with the object becoming a syntactical language transforming the text as an interpreter. Although having deliberate echoes of Russian Constructivist structures, Goldstein’s works are not characterized by a stylistic approach, but build on the exchange of conflicting and parallel ideas. In 1978 he began teaching at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. From this time he used metaphor in its most abstract sense, in order to propose that artists on the periphery, outside Europe and the USA, could give new forms to geographical, social and artistic works. Goldstein defined the three main categories of his work in the ...

Article

Horacio Safons

(b Buenos Aires, Jan 14, 1915; d Barcelona, Oct 14, 1965).

Argentine painter, sculptor, performance artist, conceptual artist, poet and illustrator. After studying in Buenos Aires at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes and with Cecilia Marcovich and Tomás Maldonado, he quickly established a reputation for his scandalous views, attracting extreme disapproval and equally strong support. After delivering a lecture at the Juan Cristóbal bookshop, Buenos Aires, entitled ‘Alberto Greco y los pájaros’ he was briefly imprisoned for his ‘Communism and subversive acts’. On his release in the same year he travelled to Paris on a French government grant, selling drawings and watercolours in the cafés and studying painting with Fernand Léger and printmaking with Johnny Friedlaender. Between 1956 and 1958 he lived in São Paulo, where he became aware of Art informel; he painted in this style in the late 1950s and early 1960s (Glusberg, pp. 284–5).

As early as 1959, when he had returned from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, Greco had expressed his corrosive vision of society through the form of his work. In his shows he exhibited tree trunks and rags for cleaning window gratings or floors. He moved again to Paris in ...

Article

Annie Dell’Aria

American painter, sculptor, conceptual artist, writer and curator. Hammond became active in feminist and lesbian art circles following her move to New York in 1969 after receiving her BA from the University of Minnesota in 1967. Hammond soon co-founded the feminist cooperative gallery AIR in ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Jena, East Germany, July 26, 1947).

German sculptor and conceptual artist. After a period studying art in Halle, East Germany, he made an unsuccessful attempt to escape to the West. He was imprisoned, but released to the West after eight months. He then studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich (1974–6) and at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg (1977–83), where he met Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen and studied with Sigmar Polke, under whose influence he began developing his satirical, social-critical practice. His work is characterized by loose, improvisatory constructions using quotidian materials. Throughout the 1980s his work became less directly acerbic and more concerned with questions of meaning, engaging with recent traditions of art practice. In the Bow (bricks on linen, 2.4×1.4×2.5 m, 1998; San Francisco, CA, B. R. Meyer priv. col.) is a ‘painting’ made with bricks, set end-first in a diagonal column in linen, the weight sagging the stretched material at the bottom. The transformation of Minimalist rigour with formal awkwardness points to Herold’s key occupation with instability, informed by his metaphorical interpretation of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Rather than transform these in an oracular manner, as in the work of Joseph Beuys, he often cancels out any higher reading with irreverent humour. ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

revised by Jean Robertson

(b Brussels, Dec 6, 1961).

Belgian sculptor, installation and conceptual artist active in Germany and Sweden. He studied phytopathology (plant diseases) and agronomic entomology at the University of Kiel, where he received a doctorate in 1988. After an early career as an agricultural scientist specializing in insect communication, Höller became a full-time artist in 1993. He created a wide variety of objects and situations, many of them participatory in nature, using such means as toys, animals, flashing lights, mirrors, sensory deprivation tanks, dark passages, giant slides, carousel rides, pheromones and huge rotating sculptural replicas of upside-down fly agaric (a poisonous, hallucinogenic mushroom; see fig.). His art projects include various optical and sensory experiments that explore individual physiological and psychological reactions to experiences that alter perception and consciousness. Despite his scientific training, Höller’s goals as an artist have not been to achieve the certainty of quantifiable scientific conclusions. Rather he has emphasized doubt and the inability to achieve conclusive explanations. He signalled his preoccupation with doubt in ...