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Article

Andrew Weiner

(b Beirut, 1925).

Lebanese painter and writer active in the USA. Daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, Adnan was educated in Lebanon before going on to study philosophy at the Sorbonne, Harvard, and the University of California, Berkeley. For many years she taught aesthetics at Dominican College, San Rafael, CA; she also lectured and taught at many other colleges and universities. During the 1970s Adnan regularly contributed editorials, essays, and cultural criticism to the Beirut-based publications Al-Safa and L’Orient-Le Jour. In 1978 she published the novel Sitt Marie Rose, which won considerable acclaim for its critical portrayal of cultural and social politics during the early years of the Lebanese Civil War. Adnan published numerous books of poetry, originating in her opposition to the American war in Vietnam and proceeding to encompass topics as diverse as the landscape of Northern California and the geopolitics of the Middle East. Her poetry served as the basis for numerous works of theater and contemporary classical music....

Article

Nizan Shaked

(b Buffalo, NY, May 9, 1968).

American painter and draftsman. She studied English and Studio Art at Williams College, Williamstown, MA, graduating with a BA in 1991. Shortly thereafter, she attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, New York, and completed her MFA in 1994 at Washington University, St Louis. Ali became known for her painting series Greenheads, in which round-headed characters perform choreographed activities against flat, light-blue backgrounds. These cartoon-styled allegories of American history and culture examine the sublimated or overt aggression inherent in activities such as team sports, ceremonies, military training, court marshaling and lynching. Referencing folk art or hieroglyphs, Untitled (Greenheads) (gouache on paper, 1998) depicts a sequence of disputes between uniformed characters and injured figures in athletic apparel. As with most of Ali’s oeuvre, the gestures and expressions of the figures communicate a sense of violent intensity, while the exact nature of the interaction remains enigmatic. Addressing the power dynamics of race, religion and gender, her scenarios respond to personal experience as well as local or world events, yet do not serve to represent them directly. Correspondingly, the single figures that appear in her later drawings and paintings display what initially seem to be specific ethnic tributes or dress codes, subsequently revealed to be invented and constructed by Ali. As it remains up to the viewer to interpret who these characters are or what may distinguish them as individuals, the perspective and biases of the viewer become part of the artwork’s meaning. The young, green-faced character in ...

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

Chika Okeke-Agulu

(b Cairo, May 22, 1963).

American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (1991). She subsequently moved to New York. She is best known for her canvases in which paint and embroidery are combined to explore themes of love, desire, sexuality, and women’s identity in a patriarchal world. Amer’s use of Embroidery, historically regarded as a genteel female craft, to create images of women fulfilling their sexual desires without inhibition, recalls the provocations and strategies of 1970s Western feminist art. However, her work also reflects her alarm at the incremental curbing of women’s social and political freedoms in her native Egypt following the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, especially after the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser ended in ...

Article

Carol Magee

(b Dec 8, 1956).

Ethiopian painter, installation artist, graphic designer, and writer, active in the USA. She grew up in Addis Ababa in a family of painters before moving to the USA. She graduated from Howard University, Washington, DC, with a BFA in painting (1975) and returned in 1994 for an MFA. Her early works, based on dreams or visions, have richly textured surfaces. In the 1980s she abandoned her early palette of reds, ochres, and greens for one of purples and blues. Later paintings depict an urban environment and frequently evoke the feeling of dislocation and nostalgia that comes from living in a country that is not one’s own. Her use of themes and motifs from myriad cultures (including those of Ethiopia and Latin America) comes out of her experiences as a diasporic subject as well as the lives of the women around her. Her pieces often tell their stories, as in the Dream Dancers series (...

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

Cecile Johnson

(Losch)

(b Long Beach, CA, March 14, 1941).

American installation artist, painter, printmaker and sculptor. Bartlett studied at Mills College, Oakland, CA (1960–63), and at the Yale School of Art and Architecture, New Haven, CT (1964–5). The progressive approach to modern art taught at Yale and the nearby thriving art scene of New York were instrumental in her early development (1963–early 1970s). Bartlett’s first one-person exhibition was in New York (1970) in the loft of the artist Alan Saret. Nine-point Pieces (1973–4), a later work, was shown at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York and was experimental both conceptually and materially. Her ambivalent use of systems to establish an order and to oppose it allowed her to explore the material and the conceptual process of making images and objects. Rhapsody (1975–6; priv. col., see exh. cat., p. 21), one of her best-known installations, consists of 988 steel plates covered with screenprint grids and hand-painted Testors enamel and hung on a wall (2.28×47.86 m). Each plate exists individually and in relation to its adjoining plate and may be read vertically or horizontally, creating a mesh of stylistic variability exploring both figurative and non-figurative motifs. Another work of the 1970s is ...

Article

(b New York, Dec 22, 1960; d New York, Aug 12, 1988).

American painter, sculptor and draughtsman. Basquiat showed an early interest in drawing, and he was encouraged by his mother’s interest in fashion design and sketching and by his father’s gifts of paper brought home from his office. From as early as 1965 Basquiat’s mother took him to the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MOMA, and from 1966 he was a Junior Member of the Brooklyn Museum. Early influences on Basquiat’s art include his avid reading of French, Spanish and English texts, his interest in cartoon drawings, Alfred Hitchcock films, cars and comic books, such as MAD magazine and its main character, Alfred E. Neuman. While attending the City-as-School (1976–8), an alternative high school, he encountered the Upper West Side Drama Group and the Family Life Theatre and invented ‘SAMO’ (Same Old Shit), a fictional character who earns a living selling ‘fake’ religion. He also met, collaborated with and became a close friend of ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Richmond, VA, June 25, 1931; d Oneonta, NY, Aug 29, 2013).

American painter. Beal studied at the College of William and Mary, Norfolk, VA, before going on to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago. In 1965, he began having solo exhibitions at the Allan Frumkin Gallery, later Frumkin/Adams Gallery and then George Adams Gallery, which had venues in New York City and Chicago, continuing to exhibit with them into the 21st century. Like many artists working in the 1960s, he repudiated the abstract, then so current in the art world, and favored instead the kind of “New Realism” being espoused by artists such as Philip Pearlstein, among others. His art focuses on the figure indoors, usually rendered up-close in a compact interior environment. The colors are usually vivid and the lines often dominant.

Beal is known primarily as a painter, but in addition to painting and prints, Beal produced two major public art monuments. The first was a series of four murals titled ...

Article

Janet Bishop

(b San Francisco, CA, May 14, 1932).

American painter. Native of the San Francisco Bay Area, known for careful observation and explicit use of snapshot-like photographic source material for paintings of family, cars, and residential neighborhoods. The artist rose to national and international prominence in early 1970s as part of the Photorealist movement (see Photorealism).

From the 1960s, Bechtle pursued a quiet realism based on the things he knew best, translating what seem to be ordinary scenes of middle-class American life into paintings. Following an early childhood in the Bay Area and Sacramento, his family settled in 1942 in Alameda, an island suburb adjacent to Oakland where his mother would occupy the same house for almost 60 years. The neighborhood appears in many of Bechtle’s paintings.

Bechtle earned both his BFA (1954) and his MFA (1958) at Oakland’s California College of Arts and Crafts, where he studied graphic design and then painting. During his student years and into the 1960s, Bechtle was influenced by Pop art’s precedent for the use of commercial subject matter and techniques. He was likewise interested in Bay Area figuration, especially the subjects and structure of paintings by ...

Article

Arthur Silberman

(d White Cone, AZ, Nov 15, 1917).

Native American Navajo painter. Begay was a prolific artist for over 50 years, and his work is familiar through paintings, book illustrations and screenprints, making him perhaps the best-known contemporary Native American painter. In 1934 he entered the Santa Fe Indian School (see Native North American art, §IV, 2) and joined the ‘Studio’ of Dorothy Dunn (1903–1990), where he was one of Dunn’s star students. In 1939, the year of his graduation, he painted one of the murals on the façade of Maisel’s trading post in Albuquerque, NM. With a scholarship from the Indian Commission, he went on to study architecture at Black Mountain College, NC.. Due to the public’s ready acceptance of his paintings, after his return from military service in World War II he became one of the first Native American artists to support himself by painting full-time. Widely exhibited, he was a consistent award-winner at exhibitions, and his work has been included in every important public and private collection of Native American art. In recognition of his contributions to Native American art he was awarded the French government’s Palmes Académiques in ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Barbados, May 26, 1959).

American sculptor and painter. He studied at the California Institute of the Arts (1982) and the Whitney Independent Studies Program, New York (1985). He had his first solo exhibition at Artists Space, New York (1984), and subsequently showed regularly in America and Europe. Bickerton emerged in New York in the early 1980s as part of the group of artists termed ‘Neo-Geo’, along with Jeff Koons, Peter Halley and Meyer Vaisman. Their work was characterized by a rejection of the neo-expressionist trends in painting and, in Bickerton’s case, by the appropriation of images and labels from consumer culture. His use of popular imagery, though most obviously indebted to Pop art, was influenced also by conceptual and Minimal art; because of its critique of consumer society, it has also been termed ‘commodity art’. In the early 1980s Bickerton made paintings on masonite boards that contained single words, such as ‘Susie’ and ‘God’, in extravagantly ornate lettering as ironic reflections that foreshadowed his later criticisms of American society. These developed into the works for which he became known: wall-mounted black containers, riveted together and covered with corporate logos. Labelled either ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Chicago, IL, Oct 20, 1953).

American painter, sculptor and performance artist. Bidlo was educated at the University of Illinois and at Teachers’ College at Columbia University in New York. He shot to notoriety in 1982 with his first solo show, Jack the Dripper at Peg's Place (Long Island City, NY, P.S.1). Part exhibition, part performance, it was based on Hans Namuth’s film of Jackson Pollock painting in 1950. Bidlo exhibited a series of remarkably accurate copies of Pollock’s drip paintings and alongside these, restaged the painter’s famous gesture of peeing into Peggy Guggenheim’s fire grate. Subsequently, Bidlo mounted a number of performances which led to him being understood by some as a performance artist, yet he is now more widely known for his exact replicas of art central to the modernist canon, a project he began in 1982. Copying work to exact dimensions, using only reproductions for reference, Bidlo commonly chose works central to the mythology of creation of individual genius. ...

Article

Charles J. Semowich

(b New York City, May 13, 1949).

American abstract painter. Bleckner received a BA in 1971 from New York University, where he studied with Chuck Close. He completed the MFA in 1973 at the California Institute of Arts. There Minimalism and conceptual art dominated among the instructors. In 1974 he returned to New York and set up a studio in SoHo. In 1975 he was included in a group show at the Paula Cooper Gallery and in the Whitney Biennial. In 1978 he joined fellow artists David Salle and Julian Schnabel by exhibiting at the Mary Boone Gallery. At the time he was producing striped paintings that were very different from the luminous paintings he produced later.

When his work is non-representational it often incorporates visual optical effects with themes related to loss and sadness. Another aspect of his work has been the use of identifiable forms that function as non-objective elements. His work has often related to investigations of light combined with emotionality and Romanticism. Floral paintings represent the transience of beauty and the ephemeral nature of life. From the 1980s his work was related to themes of loss and memory. Often he addressed the subject of AIDS but not through direct representation. Bleckner favoured symbolic imagery and forms that seem to change focus. He noted, ‘Whether it’s anatomical, medical, illustrational, or metaphoric, I’m trying to figure out some plausible way that things work or don’t work, to look for some meaning through the language that I’ve chosen to speak.’ His signature works have been likened to cellular forms in mutation and glimpses of images that remain elusive. By blurring the painted surfaces, his subjects appear indistinct. For example, allusion to protein molecules can result from a ring of flowers. In ...

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

(b Boston, MA, Dec 24, 1942).

American sculptor, painter, and draughtsman. As a child he accompanied his mother, a trained architect, to weekly painting classes, where he was encouraged to draw freely and not in a traditional manner. He studied at Carnegie–Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA (BFA, 1962), and at Yale School of Art and Architecture, New Haven, CT (MFA, 1966), where his work was mainly sculptural. From the early 1970s his central concern was to diminish the boundaries between life and art. From 1973 he made use of dreams in drawings, paintings, sculptures, projected images, prints, and finally combinations of these in multimedia installations. Borofsky first exhibited at the Artists Space, New York (1973), showing Counting (1969–), a serial project comprising a stack of sheets of graph paper (220×280 mm), on which numbers from 1 to c. 1,800,000 were written in pencil and ink. An ongoing project, it continued to reappear in later shows under a tailor-made Perspex (Plexiglas) box; by ...

Article

Ricardo Pau-Llosa

(b Havana, May 25, 1944).

Cuban painter, active in the USA. He moved to the USA in 1960, settling in Miami. Self-taught as an artist, he had his first one-man show at the Bacardi Art Gallery in Miami in 1975. He is known principally for acrylic paintings showing architectural images or themes of the infinite in a hard-edge style, as in his series of the 1980s A World Within (e.g. No. 14, 1984; see 1988–9 exh. cat., p. 27), which employs a ‘painting-within-a-painting’ technique. In his works he drew upon Renaissance perspective; the spaces of Giorgio De Chirico and Luis Barragán; the stained-glass images of Amelia Peláez; and colonial Caribbean architecture. The buildings that Calzada depicted are non-functional; they comprise detached façades and windows, labyrinthine walls and stairs, and portions of columns arranged in courtyards, with projections of shadow and perspective. Calzada exhibited throughout the Americas, and his work is held in a number of North American museums and in the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico....

Article

Sandra Sider

(b Lafayette, LA, 1967).

African American painter. Charles graduated from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA, in 1985, having studied advertising design, illustration, and painting. He received his MFA from the University of Houston in 1993, and subsequently taught at the University of Texas at Austin. His paintings, which manipulate images of historical black stereotypes, have generated critical controversy and hostile reactions from viewers. Charles, however, saw himself as investigating these images and their place in American history, exploring and exposing their negativity. He typically signs his work with an actual copper penny, oriented to display the profile of Abraham Lincoln.

Charles also collected black memorabilia, such as Aunt Jemima dolls and other advertising ephemera, and has researched 19th-century blackface and minstrelsy performers. Some of his most controversial figures have been of childhood literary icons, including a black Sambo reminiscent of Mickey Mouse. Charles is interested in how these images remain in America’s collective memory, and the different attitudes of Caucasians and African Americans when viewing them. He creates extreme caricatures, such as a sinister-looking black face with a watermelon slice for a mouth and black seeds instead of teeth—images meant to stimulate thought. The faces in his paintings confront the viewer with their oversized scale, some of them more than 1 m high. Charles felt that American advertising conditioned people of all types to pigeonhole blacks as representing the body (instead of the mind), and as entertainers—and that these stereotypical attitudes have been retained in the American psyche. To emphasize this point, Charles juxtaposed African American celebrities with advertising imagery, such as Oprah Winfrey as a cookie-jar mammy figure....

Article

Isobel Whitelegg

(b Mexico City, March 6, 1955).

Mexican painter, active also in the USA. An autodidact, at the age of 16 Climent decided to pursue a career as a painter. Her mother was born in New York and her father, Enrique Climent (1897–1980), was a celebrated painter who had come to Mexico as an exile from the Spanish Civil War. Her parents’ intimate social circle was made up of expatriate Spanish artists, musicians and writers. Climent’s decision not to enter art school in Mexico was influenced by her father, whose negative view of formal education stemmed from his own conservative training in early 20th-century Valencia.

Climent’s early works in watercolour were exhibited at a series of solo exhibitions in Mexico City from 1972 until 1984, when she took a two-year break from professional practice. In 1986 the direction and medium of Climent’s work changed. Exploring the streets of Mexico City with her camera, she took snapshots of windows, doors and balconies, detailing the overlapping margins between exterior and interior spaces. From these photographs she produced her first series of oil paintings. In ...