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Article

Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy

American installation artists, active also in Puerto Rico. Jennifer Allora (b Philadelphia, Mar 20, 1974) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Richmond, Virginia (1996), and Guillermo Calzadilla (b Havana, Cuba, Jan 10, 1971) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Escuela de Artes Plastica in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1996). Allora and Calzadilla met in Italy in 1995 during a study abroad program in Florence. They then lived together in San Juan for a year before moving to New York City where they started working collaboratively while each participated in different residency and study programs. In 1998–1999, Allora participated in the year-long Whitney Independent Study Program, while Calzadilla participated in the P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center National Studio Program.

Allora & Calzadilla’s first important international exhibition was the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo in 1998 curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, which investigated the idea of cultural cannibalism known in Brazilian literature as ...

Article

Deborah Cullen

(Henry) [Spinky]

(b Charlotte, NC, Nov 29, 1907; d April 27, 1977).

African American painter, sculptor, graphic artist, muralist and educator. In 1913, Charles Alston’s family relocated from North Carolina to New York where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School. In 1929, he attended Columbia College and then Teachers College at Columbia University, where he obtained his MFA in 1931. Alston’s art career began while he was a student, creating illustrations for Opportunity magazine and album covers for jazz musician Duke Ellington.

Alston was a groundbreaking educator and mentor. He directed the Harlem Arts Workshop and then initiated the influential space known simply as “306,” which ran from 1934 to 1938. He taught at the Works Progress Administration’s Harlem Community Art Center and was supervisor of the Harlem Hospital Center murals, leading 35 artists as the first African American project supervisor of the Federal Art Project. His two murals reveal the influence of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (1886–1957). His artwork ranged from the comic to the abstract, while often including references to African art. During World War II, he worked at the Office of War Information and Public Information, creating cartoons and posters to mobilize the black community in the war effort....

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(Francisca )

(b East Los Angeles, CA, Sept 20, 1946).

American muralist, activist and teacher. Born to Mexican–American parents, Baca is recognized as one of the leading muralists in the USA. She was involved from a young age in activism, including the Chicano Movement, the antiwar protest and Women’s Liberation. She studied art at California State University, Northridge, where she received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Baca started teaching art in 1970 in East Los Angeles for the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and became interested in the ways murals could involve youth, allowing them to express their experiences. She founded the City of Los Angeles Mural Program in 1974, which evolved into the Social and Public Resource Center, a community arts organization, where she served as artistic director. She held five summer mural workshops from 1976 through 1983 for teenagers and community artists to help her paint a huge mural on the ethnic history of Los Angeles, called the ...

Article

Banksy  

Elizabeth K. Mix

(b Bristol, ?1974).

English graffiti and interventionist artist. Banksy is best known for stencilled graffiti that sometimes mimics government posts. His graffiti, both freehand and stencil, started appearing on trains and walls around Bristol in 1992–4. He apparently left Bristol for London late in 1999. The name ‘Banksy’ became formally associated with his work with the publication of his first book, Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall (2001).

Banksy’s text-based graffiti has included the phrase, ‘caution, concealed trap doors in operation’, on London’s Millennium Bridge; ‘designated riot area’ in Trafalgar Square, and ‘this is not a not a photo opportunity’ at various tourist sites including Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sydney Opera House. Many were fooled by his official-looking stencilled declaration that walls on Marylebone and Bayswater Roads in Westminster were ‘a designated graffiti area’. Other works contained unusual appropriations of public property—vandalized street signs, traffic cones, telephone booths, vehicles, and even farm animals. Banksy has termed his appropriation and manipulation of public advertisements ‘Brandalism’. A subtle use of found objects involves the painting of frames or dotted lines and scissors around the edges of objects, making the outlined objects appear to be either artworks or coupons ready to be clipped. In addition, Banksy has mimicked British pound notes (‘Banksy notes’ featuring Princess Diana) and oil paintings by William Bouguereau and Claude Monet, among other artists, by inserting incongruous objects (bombs, iPods, shopping trolleys) into copies of well-known paintings in a series of ‘Vandalized Oil Paintings’....

Article

Cecilia Suárez

(b Quito, Sept 8, 1939).

Ecuadorean painter, graphic designer, sculptor, installation artist, architect and teacher. He studied architecture at the Universidad Nacional de Bogotá, Colombia. He worked for the Graham Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC, and received a grant to attend the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, where he worked with György Kepes. Later he became a professor at the arts faculty of the Universidad Central, Quito. Bueno worked first in graphic design before going on to experiment with the incorporation of technology into art, using laser beams, mechanical pumps, plastic, glass and such elements as water, fire and air, for example in 49 Tubes, exhibited at the Bienal de Arte Coltejer in Medellín in 1972. He also combined visual art with music in such works as Flame Orchards, with music by Paul Earls, which won joint first prize with Kepes in the same exhibition. Exploration into ecological and environmental art led him to experiment with the idea of an aerial view of the urban landscape incorporating military camouflage sheets....

Article

Deborah A. Middleton

(b Berkeley, CA, Nov 4, 1944).

American sculptor, painter, and printmaker. Heizer’s earthworks erected in the vast desert expanses of the American Midwest marked the beginning of the Heizer, Michael movement of the 1960s and liberated art from the confines of the art gallery. Heizer’s early experience and exposure to desert landscapes and Native American culture was influenced by his father Robert Heizer, an important American archaeologist, and his maternal grandfather Olaf P. Jenkins, who was an important early American geologist. He attended the San Francisco Art Institute (1963–4) to study painting and moved to New York (1966). In 1967 Heizer left New York to return to the American Midwest with colleague Walter De Maria, and began artistic collaborations with James Turrell and Robert Smithson to explore the making of land art.

Heizer’s early paintings explored the interaction of two-dimensional and three-dimensional geometric forms influenced by the Abstract Expressionists of the late 1940s and 1950s. By ...

Article

Kristina Van Kirk

(b Long Beach, CA, Sept 12, 1928).

American painter and sculptor. He studied at the Otis Art Institute (1948–50) and at the new and progressive Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles (1952–4), where he adopted an Abstract Expressionist painting style. Through his association with the Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles (1959–66), he came into contact with such artists as Ed Moses (b 1926) and Billy Al Bengston. Irwin disdained his early paintings for their lack of ‘potency’. In the early 1960s he began a continuous series of experiments. He broke with figuration, searching like Minimalist artists for a way to make the work of art autonomous in content, that is representing nothing but itself, as in the Disc series that he began in 1966 (exh. 1968, Pasadena, CA, Norton Simon Mus. A.). Designed to exacting dimensions, colour tones, and lighting criteria, the Discs appeared suspended, free from the wall and comprising an uncertain mass that dematerialized into its environment....

Article

Courtney Gerber

(b Greenville, MI, Aug 6, 1945).

American painter and installation artist. She studied first at the Memphis Academy of Art (1965), then at the University of the Americas, Mexico City (1966–7) and finally at the St Martin’s School of Art, London (1968–9). She had her first solo exhibition in 1977 at the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York. Jaudon completed numerous permanent public art commissions and her paintings are represented in collections throughout the USA and Europe. In the 1970s Jaudon was linked most closely to the pattern and decoration movement (P&D). Her participation in this movement demonstrated her engagement with issues that were also understood as being at the core of the contemporaneous feminist art movement: disrupting the modernist definition of fine art as non-decorative, strictly formal, and, generally, produced by white men from Western cultures. In the painting Bellefontaine (1976; see 1996 exh. cat., p. 52), Jaudon fused modernism’s geometric abstraction with the interlacing curves and angles found in Islamic or Celtic ornamentation from the Middle Ages. She consciously takes care that the Western idiom of abstract painting does not overpower the non-Western decorative motifs, so that they coexist in a cross-cultural, non-hierarchical collaboration....

Article

Bailey Van Hook

(b Bergen Heights, NJ, June 10, 1874; d Philadelphia, PA, Feb 25, 1961).

American painter, illustrator, stained-glass artist and author. Although she worked as an illustrator early on, Oakley is remembered as a muralist. Oakley attended the Art Students League, New York, Académie Montparnasse, Paris, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, but, most importantly, a class in illustration with Howard Pyle at the Drexel Institute, Philadelphia. Pyle teamed her together with Jessie Willcox Smith (1863–1935) to illustrate an edition of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Evangeline (1897). Smith and Oakley and another illustrator, Elizabeth Shippen Green (1871–1954), rented adjoining studios in Philadelphia and subsequently lived together in a supportive camaraderie until Green’s marriage in 1911. During her brief career as an illustrator, Oakley completed over 100 illustrations, mostly for novels and short stories.

In 1900 she created a stained-glass window on speculation, which led to a major commission for stained-glass windows, mural decoration and a mosaic altarpiece for a church in Manhattan. That project brought her to the attention of architect Joseph Huston (...

Article

Deborah F. Pokinski

(Lewis)

(b Stockbridge, MA, July 29, 1862; d Clifton Springs, NY, Dec 2, 1929).

American painter and muralist. Reid attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1880–84), then moved to New York, studying briefly at the Art Students League. In 1885 he went to Paris, studying at the Académie Julian where he received training as a muralist under Gustave(-Clarence-Rodolphe) Boulanger and Jules(-Joseph) Lefebvre. In 1889 he returned to New York and began painting portraits and teaching at the Art Students League (1893–6).

Decorative murals—typically idealized, allegorical figure compositions—were in great demand during the era of Beaux-Arts architectural design. Reid created a number of them, including at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 and in the Library of Congress, as well as for hotels, churches and even an ocean liner.

By the early 1890s Reid began adopting Impressionist qualities to define his signature theme—attractive young women in light, gauzy dresses, out of doors, surrounded by flowers. Images of upper-class women, usually isolated and pensive, were among the most popular subjects of turn-of-the-century American painters, although Reid rejected the more conventional interior settings of his peers for light filled exteriors and generally even-toned, pastel colours. His ribbon-like strokes of paint both suggested dappled sunlight and flattened his forms. As a result, in works such as ...

Article

Suzaan Boettger

(b Passaic, NJ, Jan 2, 1938; d Amarillo, TX, July 20, 1973).

American sculptor, painter, and writer. In his brief professional life Robert Smithson originated a new genre, Earthworks, which led to ensuing forms of Land art and equally influentially, wrote pungent essays. As Andy Warhol exemplifies the United States’ expansive, driven commercial optimism of the early 1960s, Smithson’s oeuvre makes him the icon of the abject Post-minimalist, anti-Establishment, Vietnam War era of the late 1960s through early 1970s.

As with most sculptors of the time, Smithson trained as a painter, beginning at the Art Students League in New York City while a junior at Clifton High School, New Jersey, and after his 1956 graduation, continuing at the League and briefly at the Brooklyn Museum School. Following a year in the Army Reserves and hitchhiking trips around the United States, he resided in Manhattan. Eschewing college, Smithson’s début solo show was at the Artist’s Gallery, Manhattan, in 1959. Smithson and Nancy Holt, who attended Clifton High concurrently, met in ...