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Article

Elisabeth Roark

(b National City, CA, July 17, 1931).

American conceptual artist . After studying art at San Diego State College (1949–53) and the Otis Art Institute (1957–9), among other institutions, he began to develop his painting style, soon incorporating letters, words, and photographs in his works. By 1966 he was using photographs and text, or simply hand-lettered text, on canvas as in Semi-close-up of Girl by Geranium … (1966–8; Basle, Kstmus.). From 1970 he worked in printmaking, film, video, installation, sculpture, and photography. His work is characterized by a consciousness of language evident in his use of puns, semantics based on the structuralism of Claude Lévi-Strauss, and the incorporation of material drawn from popular culture. All are apparent in Blasted Allegories (1978; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), a series combining Polaroids of television images captioned and arranged to suggest an unusual syntax. Baldessari differed from other conceptual artists in his humour and commitment to visual images, often obscured by flat, brightly coloured geometric and organic shapes including round forms that he likened to bullet holes. Baldessari dramatized the ordinary, although beneath the apparent simplicity of his words and images lie multiple connotations....

Article

Margaret Barlow

(b Pittsburgh, PA, Aug 23, 1940).

American conceptual artist, draughtsman, painter, and writer. He studied painting at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh (BFA, 1962). In 1964 Bochner moved to New York. His first exhibition (1966), described by Benjamin Buchloch as the first conceptual art exhibition, was held at the Visual Arts Gallery, School of Visual Arts, New York, and titled Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to be Viewed as Art. In his work he investigated the relation between thinking and seeing. In his first mature works (1966), which are both conceptual and perceptual in basis and philosophical in content, he was interested to eliminate the ‘object’ in art and to communicate his own feelings and personal experience, and he did not wish to accept established art-historical conventions. He also experimented with word-drawings (see fig.) and number systems. For his Measurement series (late 1960s) he used black tape and Letraset to create line drawings accompanied by measurements directly on to walls, effectively making large-scale diagrams of the rooms in which they were installed. Bochner continued to make series of installational line drawings into the 1970s and 1980s, but from ...

Article

Tom Williams

(b East Orange, NJ, March 29, 1947; d Falls Village, CT, June 25, 2013).

American photographer and conceptual artist. Charlesworth received a BA in art history from Barnard College in New York in 1969. During her undergraduate years, she enrolled in a number of studio courses, including those taught by conceptual artist Douglas Huebler, and her work was decisively shaped by late 1960s debates about conceptual art. In 1974–5 she joined with Joseph Kosuth and others to establish and edit the combative conceptualist journal The Fox, to which she made several contributions, including ‘Declaration of Dependence’, her well-known essay about the artist’s place in the larger society. Her photo-conceptualist practice is often associated with the so-called Pictures Generation that included other photographers such as Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, and Cindy Sherman, and in this context, she is often regarded as a key figure in the development of appropriation art during the late 1970s and early 1980s. From 1992 she taught at the School of Visual Art in New York and from ...

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

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

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

Constance W. Glenn

(b Worcester, MA, Oct 7, 1943).

American photographer and conceptual artist. He studied painting at the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston (1961–5), and the University of Illinois, Urbana (1965–7). He first won recognition for his 8×10 view camera photographs, for example Chair Trick (1973; see Alinder, pl. 12). In such works as these, where he constructed the objects and their settings and then photographed them, Cumming explored perception, illusion, logic, time and motion. In the 1980s he began using drawing, printmaking and colour photography, for example X-ray Crystallography Mounts (DNA Molecule Research) MIT (photograph, 1986; Cambridge, MA, MIT; see 1988 exh. cat., pl. 24), with the same attention to pragmatic detail and often magical humour. His interest in narrative fantasies first provided storylines for photo-sequences and later led him to write, illustrate, and publish five books including Discourse on Domestic Disorder (Orange, CA, 1975).

J. Alinder: Cumming Photographs: Untitled 18...

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

Mary M. Tinti

Architecture, design and conceptual art partnership. Diller Scofidio + Renfro [Diller + Scofidio] was formed in 1979 by Elizabeth Diller (b Lodz, Poland, 1954) and Ricardo Scofidio (b New York, NY, 1935) as an interdisciplinary design practice based in New York.

Diller studied at the Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York (BArch, 1979) and then worked as an Assistant Professor of Architecture (1981–90) at the Cooper Union School of Architecture, becoming Associate Professor of Architecture at Princeton University in 1990. Scofidio, who also attended Cooper Union (1952–5), obtained his BArch from Columbia University (1960) and became Professor of Architecture at Cooper Union in 1965. In 1997 Charles Renfro joined the firm and was made partner in 2004, at which point the partnership changed its name to Diller Scofidio + Renfro. While the couple (who are married) initially eschewed traditional architectural projects in favor of installations, set design and landscape design, by the 21st century their firm had received commissions for both new buildings and renovations of existing architecture. Diller and Scofidio were the first architects to receive a MacArthur Foundation fellowship (...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b New Haven, CT, 1949).

American painter. He completed a BA at Trinity College, Hartford, CT, in 1971 and later settled in New York. Initially influenced by Post-minimalism, process art and conceptual art, he was soon attracted to the tactility and allusions to the body in the work of Brice Marden, Robert Mangold and Robert Ryman. Spurred on by the revival of interest in Surrealism in the 1970s, Dunham began to make abstract, biomorphic paintings reminiscent of the work of Arshile Gorky and André Masson, executed with a comic twist enhanced by lurid colours and the suggestion of contemporary psychedelia. In the 1980s he began to paint on wood veneer and rose to prominence in the context of a broader return to painting in the period. Age of Rectangles (1983–5; New York, MOMA) is a highly abstract composition of differing forms, symptomatic of his work at this time: geometric sketches co-exist with eroticized organic shapes while the forms of the wood veneer show through the surface of the paint to suggest surging forces. Towards the end of the 1980s he began to move towards single, dominating motifs; wave-like forms were particularly common. In the ...

Article

Canadian partnership of conceptual artists working as performance artists, video artists, photographers and sculptors. It was formed in 1968 by A. A. Bronson [pseud. of Michael Tims] (b Vancouver, 1946), Felix Partz [pseud. of Ron Gabe] (b Winnipeg, 1945) and Jorge Zontal [pseud. of Jorge Saia] (b Parma, Italy, 1944; d Feb 1994). Influenced by semiotics and working in various media, they sought to examine and subvert social structures, taking particular interest in the products of mass culture. Their existence as a group, each with an assumed name, itself undermined the traditional notion of the solitary artist of genius. In 1972 they began publishing a quarterly journal, File, to publicize their current interests and work. In the 1970s they concentrated on beauty parades, starting in 1970 with the 1970 Miss General Idea Pageant, a performance at the Festival of Underground Theatre in Toronto that mocked the clichés surrounding the beauty parade, resulting in the nomination of Miss General Idea ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Vancouver, BC, Jan 16, 1949).

Canadian conceptual artist. He studied at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (1968–71), but did not complete a degree. Much of Graham’s early work sprang from an interest in the Romantic landscape and the way in which its image has often been used to bolster notions of individuality and creative inspiration. Camera Obscura (1979; see 1998 exh. cat., p. 4) is the first of a number of large, outdoor viewing chambers which explore these themes. This piece, first installed in a farmer’s field, reproduced (upside-down) the image of a nearby oak tree. His interest in dramatizing the means of representation continued in his first film, Two Generators (1984; see 1999 exh. cat., figs. 2 and 19), which depicted a nocturnal landscape illuminated by spotlights driven by noisy and distracting generators. Both of these works reflect Graham’s interest in the work of Robert Smithson, but another important influence on him, Marcel Duchamp, inspired a very different interrogation of the development of Modernism. ...

Article

revised by Margaret Barlow

(b Pittsfield, MA, Dec 23, 1939; d New York, Oct 21, 1995).

American conceptual artist. While studying English literature at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, Graves received a fellowship in painting to the Yale–Norfolk Summer School. From 1961 to 1964 she studied fine art at Yale University, New Haven, CT, and in 1964 received a Fulbright–Hayes grant in painting to study in Paris. In 1966 she moved to New York, where she established a studio. Her first solo exhibition was in 1968 at the Graham Gallery, and later she became the first woman artist to have a solo retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her work is founded on 20th-century conceptual discourses on art and draws on a wide range of sciences, including anatomy, palaeontology, anthropology, computer mapping, psychology and perception. Her curiosity for many subjects was a consistent feature in works that include drawings, paintings, installations, sculptures and film. She became renowned for her first figurative pieces, for example Camel VIII...

Article

Eva Meyer-Hermann

(b Cologne, Aug 12, 1936).

German painter and conceptual artist, active in the USA. He studied at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Kassel from 1956 to 1960, and during this period he painted pictures in a style close to Tachism, working on the visualization of movement. He also worked on examinations of colour fields, and in 1960–61 he spent a year in S. W. Hayter’s Atelier 17 in Paris. While there he was brought into contact with the work of Yves Klein and the Zero group. He stayed in touch with Zero until 1965, and this was revealed in his work through a demonstration of optical phenomena that is more objective than romantic. In 1961–2 he received a Fulbright Scholarship and studied at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, spending the remainder of 1962 in New York. From 1963 to 1965 he had a number of teaching posts in Germany, first at Kettwig, then at Düsseldorf, but he returned to the USA 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

G. Lola Worthington

(b Wichita, KS, Nov 22, 1954).

Native American (Cheyenne–Arapaho) conceptual and performance artist. Creating ethnic commentary with introspective perceptions and communiqués of contemporary indigenous political frames of context, Heap of Birds demonstrated his analysis of colonized relationships and their aftermath. In his works unspoken rules and relationships between Native Americans and colonizers are deliberately provoked and questioned (see, for example, Day/Night, 1991). He candidly confronts stereotypes and the essential meaning of “Native” identity in legal and colonialist terms.

He earned his BFA at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS (1976), and afterwards studied at the Royal College of Art, London (1976–7). In 1979, the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA awarded him an MFA. Early works combined his enthusiasm for juxtaposed graphic images with text on sheet metal. Combining visual and linguistical representations, he offered fresh and provoking political commentary. His works were temporary and retained by a series of noted photographs taken during the performance event. He voiced questions between Native Americans and non-Native Americans about the precarious relationships of ethnic perception in modern day America....

Article

Walter Smith

(b New York, July 19, 1929; d New York, July 3, 2000).

American architect, conceptual artist, teacher and writer. He studied at the Cooper Union, New York (1947–50), University of Cincinnati, OH (1950–52), Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (1952–3), and the University of Rome (Fulbright scholar, 1954). Hejduk began teaching architecture in 1954, and in 1964 he joined Cooper Union, becoming Dean of the School of Architecture there in 1975. He also worked in various architectural offices in New York, including that of I. M. Pei (1956–8), and in 1965 he established his own office in New York. From 1954 to 1963 he worked in a purposefully dry, reductive style strongly influenced by Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and De Stijl. This is illustrated in the Nine Square Problem (c. 1954), a linear grid concerned with such concepts as frame, post, centre, periphery, extension and compression, which was developed as a pedagogical tool for first-year students. It became the basis for his Texas Houses project (...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Ann Arbor, MI, 1924; d Truro, MA, July 12, 1997).

American conceptual artist. He was educated at the Académie Julian in Paris (1948) and at the Cleveland School of Art (1948); he graduated from the University of Michigan in 1952 and received an MFA from the same institution in 1955. Initially influenced by Max Beckmann, Heubler painted in an Expressionist style until interests in Zen, existentialism, and phenomenology led him to a more Minimalist approach. By the 1960s he was producing Minimalist sculpture such as Truro Series #1 (1966; see 1997 book, p. 126) a large free-standing geometric sculpture in the form of a reversed ‘S’ shape. However, Heubler soon grew dissatisfied with Mimimalism’s dependence on modes of contemplative reception, and in 1968 he began a series of works employing texts and road maps on which he traced out ‘trips’. These so-called Location Pieces then led to other, similar conceptual work involving time-delay photography and accompanying texts, called ...

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

Nizan Shaked

Term used to describe a strand of conceptual art that takes the art establishment as its subject of investigation. Working since the 1960s and 1970s artists such as Michael Asher (1943–2012), Marcel Broodthaers, Daniel Buren, Hans Haacke, John Knight (b 1945), Adrian Piper and Mierle Laderman Ukeles questioned the hidden assumptions, ideologies and operation of institutions such as galleries, museums, publications and private collections, their artwork serving to reveal the frameworks of classification and circulation that give art its meaning or value. Michael Asher’s strategic interventions highlighted the preexisting conditions of the institution by revealing the economic system of art, and thus demystified the alleged neutrality of the “white cube” modernist display space. For his exhibition at the Claire Copley Gallery, Los Angeles (21 Sept –12 Oct 1974), Asher removed the partition wall that separated the exhibition gallery from the office and storage area, placing on display the backroom activities, exhibiting the material and social realities of art instead of art objects....