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Article

Frazer Ward

(Hannibal)

(b New York, Jan 24, 1940).

American poet, performance, video, and installation artist, and urban designer. Acconci worked for an MFA degree at the University of Iowa from 1962 to 1964. He initially devoted himself to poetry and writing that emphasized the physicality of the page and then began to produce visual work in real space in 1969. He worked as a performance artist from 1969 until 1974. His performance work addressed the social construction of subjectivity. A central work, Seedbed (1972; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), saw Acconci masturbate for six hours a day, hidden under a sloping gallery floor, involving visitors in the public expression of private fantasy. Between 1974 and 1979 he made a series of installations often using video and especially sound, mainly in gallery spaces, examining relations between subjectivity and public space. For Where We Are Now (Who Are We Anyway) (1976; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), a long table in the gallery and recorded voices suggested a realm of public or communal debate, but the table extended out of the window over the street like a diving board, countering idealism with the realities of city life. In the 1980s Acconci made sculptures and installations, many viewer-activated, invoking basic architectural units and domestic space. ...

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

(b Chicago, June 5, 1947).

American performance artist, sculptor, draughtsman, and writer. She completed her BA in art history at Barnard College, New York, in 1969 and had her first one-woman show there in 1970, exhibiting sculptures and drawings among other works. She then trained as a sculptor at Columbia University, New York, receiving her MFA in 1972. Much of her work has built on her childhood instruction as a classical violinist, and she achieved popular notoriety in 1981 when her song ‘O Superman’ became a popular hit in England. Her first performance piece, Automotive, took place in 1972 at Town Green in Rochester, VT, and involved a concert of car horns. In 1974 she staged another music-based performance entitled Duets on Ice in which she appeared at four different locations on New York sidewalks wearing a pair of ice skates with their blades frozen in blocks of ice, and she proceeded to play one of several altered violins until the ice melted into water. In subsequent years, she has continued to work primarily as a performance artist, using projected photographs, films, texts, and music to create technologically sophisticated and elaborately staged events. Many of these performances have featured instruments of her own invention. The most famous of these was a violin with a recording head on its body and a strip of audio tape in the place of the hairs on its bow. This piece allowed her to play the human voice as an instrument by changing its speed and cadence with the movements of her arm. The most complex and spectacular of her performances, ...

Article

Robert Saltonstall Mattison

(b Saint Nicholas, Nov 1, 1926; d New York, NY, Aug 17, 2013).

American sculptor and installation artist of Greek birth. Known for his neon environments, he has used light over five decades to explore spatial and temporal relationships. Settling with his family in New York in 1930, he graduated from Brooklyn Community College in 1947. Through the 1950s, he experimented with assemblage and was interested in Abstract Expressionism as well as Arte Povera. In 1960, he began to design neon configurations for interior spaces. While the geometry of his forms recalls emerging Minimalism, the richly glowing colors in such works as Red Box over Blue Box (1973; La Jolla, CA, Mus. Contemp. A.) are sensuous and emotionally evocative, thus differentiating Antonakos from his strictly Minimalist contemporaries. He uses incomplete geometric forms, suggesting Gestalt shapes, to invite the viewer to participate imaginatively in their completion. Since 1973, Antonakos has created nearly 50 permanent public works in America, Europe and Japan, such as ...

Article

Klaus Ottmann

American performance artist and sculptor. Antoni studied sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Antoni drew attention to herself in 1993 during a performance (Loving Care) at the Anthony d’Offay Gallery in London where, dressed in a black catsuit, she dipped her long hair repeatedly into a bucket filled with hair dye, and using her hair as a paint brush, mopped the gallery floor on her hands and knees. Her performance was reminiscent of Yves Klein’s 1960s ...

Article

Dennis Raverty

(b Tehran, Jul 10, 1939).

American sculptor of Iranian birth. Armajani studied in Iran at the University of Tehran before immigrating to the USA in 1960 to complete his studies in philosophy at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN, where he settled permanently. He became a naturalized US citizen in 1967. Armajani used the language of vernacular architecture in his sculpture to create spaces into which the viewer moves, sometimes being literally surrounded by the sculpture. Cellar doors, back stairways, loading docks, benches, bridges, porches, gazebos, and other such homely architectural elements are the inspiration for his sculptures and installations. Early in Armajani’s career he was on the faculty of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he lectured on philosophy and conceptual art, but he left teaching in 1975 to concentrate exclusively on his sculpture.

Armajani stated repeatedly that his intention was to create a “neighborly” space, that is, a space that brings people together. His public sculpture is perhaps best thought of as social sculpture, in the sense meant by postwar German artist Joseph Beuys: a community-seeking, politically progressive, public art. Armajani’s many commissions include the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge in Minneapolis (...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Morristown, NJ, Oct 29, 1955).

American sculptor. He studied Oriental and Middle Eastern cultures and languages before later graduating in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA 1993). Ashkin gained international recognition in the mid-1990s for his tabletop dioramas of inhospitable, often deserted, American landscapes. Influenced by Robert Smithson’s interest in the concept of entropy as well as more traditional landscape discourses such as Romanticism and the Sublime, Ashkin’s work has often suggested vast inhuman wastelands, although their real scale might only be a few square feet. His earliest works concentrated on semi-arid deserts, but soon the dominant motif switched to semi-stagnant marshes. No. 33 (1996; see exh. cat.), typical of the numerical nomination of his work, depicts a long, thin freeway in a swampy wilderness; a single truck drives along and telegraph wires line the road, suggesting vast distances. No. 15 (1996; see exh. cat.) is smaller in size, though again the tiny scale of the trucks that pass in convoy over a swampy, pock-marked landscape suggest great expanse. More recently Ashkin has expanded his practice into video and photography exploring the Sublime. ...

Article

revised by Margaret Barlow

(b Harrisburg, PA, Nov 20, 1946).

American sculptor, draughtswoman, and installation and environmental artist. She studied liberal arts at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (1964–8), and obtained an MA in studio art at Hunter College, City University of New York (1968–71), where she worked under Robert Morris and became familiar with systems theory. From the 1960s Aycock developed phenomenologically site-orientated works to include metaphor and simile, referring to machinery and construction sites, archaeological sites, models, children’s play areas and funfairs, and other public or social settings. For example in A Simple Network of Underground Wells and Tunnels (1975) six concrete wells (1.62 sq. m) with connecting tunnels were sunk into an area of ground c. 6.1×12.2 m at Merriewold West, Far Hills, NJ (destr.). The curious sense of authority within her sophisticated, well-made structures is simultaneously articulated and undermined by a nonsensical, non-functional, and fantastical element. Her works are often a synthesis of diverse elements. The imagery of the ...

Article

Frazer Ward

(b San Francisco, CA, 1967).

American sculptor, installation artist, filmmaker, and video artist. Barney emerged in the early 1990s to considerable fanfare, based on the reputation of works made while still an undergraduate at Yale University (he graduated with a BA in 1989), and early exhibitions in New York galleries. Exhibitions such as Field Dressing (1989; New Haven, CT, Yale, U., Payne Whitney Athletic Complex), and early works in the series Drawing Restraint (begun in 1987), established characteristics of Barney’s work: striking imagery drawn from an idiosyncratic range of sources (sport-oriented in the earliest works), sculptural objects in signature materials (e.g. petroleum jelly, ‘self-lubricating plastic’), and athletic performances by the artist, in the service of arcane personal mythology (see fig.). These characteristics are most fully expressed in the Cremaster cycle of five films (1994–2003, released out of order, beginning with Cremaster 4 (1992)). Elaborate and expensive productions featuring lush imagery, drawing on both marginal and mainstream histories (performance art and Hollywood cinema), Celtic and Masonic lore, popular cultural references (Harry Houdini, Gary Gilmore), and anatomical metaphors (the Cremaster is the muscle by which the testicles are raised and lowered), the ...

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

Francis Summers

(b Philadelphia, Dec 17, 1960).

American sculptor, active in England. He obtained a BFA from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA, and an MFA from Goldsmiths’ College, London, in 1988. Exploring his interest in the government of behaviour by social constraint, he first used clothes and hair as materials before turning to animal remains and casts of human organs for his increasingly unsettling work. His The Cat and the Dog (1995; London, Saatchi Gal., see 1996 exh. cat., p. 4) consists of two skinned animal hides with perfectly reconstructed heads and feet. Described by the artist as frozen smiles, the animal objects act as abstract surrogates for socially repressed bestial tendencies. Be Your Dog (1997; see 1998 exh. cat., p. 10), consisting of scalped dog ears mounted on a wall as an invitation to wear them, illustrates this theme even more forcefully. Other works by Baseman represent human body parts. Muscle (1997...

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

Clair Joy

(b Lake Charles, LA, Oct 25, 1941).

American sculptor. She studied art and philosophy at McNeese College in Lake Charles (1959–63) before moving to New York and studying art at the Brooklyn Museum School of Art (1964–5). Benglis admired, and she was influenced by, the work of Abstract Expressionists, such as Franz Kline. Her first exhibitions were at the Bykert Gallery, New York (1968 and 1969), showing wax paintings and poured-latex sculptures (see fig.). In 1969 she began working with polyurethane foam and made Brünhilde, her first projecting foam piece, as a performance at the Galerie Müller, Cologne, in 1970. She began to collaborate with Robert Morris in 1971, which resulted in her video Mumble (1972) and Morris’s video Exchange (1973).

Benglis ran a controversial advertisement in an issue of Artforum (Nov 1974), in which she posed nude in an aggressively provocative pose with a dildo. This image was poised between showing an overt, active sexuality and other images showing nude women being objectified. This balance between multiple readings would continue to characterize her work. Also 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

Deborah Cullen

(b Los Angeles, CA, Aug 12, 1933).

African American filmmaker, sculptor, printmaker and archivist of African American culture. Camille Billops received her BA from California State College and her MFA from the City College of New York. A visual artist, filmmaker and archivist, Billops’s darkly humorous prints and sculpture have been exhibited internationally, including at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design, the New Museum and the Bronx Museum, New York; the Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Clark College, Atlanta University; the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia; Gallerie Akhenaton, Cairo, Egypt; the American Center, Karachi, Pakistan; and the American Cultural Center, Taipei, Taiwan. Billops received a Percent for Art commission in New York and was a long-time member of Robert Blackburn’s Printmaking Workshop (PMW), traveling to establish the first summer printmaking workshop in Asilah, Morocco, with the PMW delegation.

As a filmmaker, Billops earned a National Endowment for the Arts award. Her films have been shown on public television and at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She collaborated with photographer James Van Der Zee (...

Article

Michelle Yun

(b New York, Feb 5, 1960).

American multimedia artist, curator, and writer. Blake received a BA from Bard College, Annadale-on-Hudson, NY, in 1982 and an MFA from the California Institute of Arts in Valencia in 1984. Upon graduation he moved to San Francisco where he worked as a curator at New Langton Arts, San Francisco, until his return to New York in 1996. Most notable of his curated exhibitions was In a Different Light, at the University Art Museum, Berkeley, in 1995, the first museum exhibition to examine the influence of lesbian and gay artists on contemporary art. In 2003 Blake became the founding Chair of the International Center of Photography/Bard Masters Program in Advanced Photographic Studies at the International Center for Photography in New York.

Blake’s performances, installations, and curated exhibitions have consistently tackled issues relating to sexuality, race, and representation. In his youth the artist was influenced by Joseph Cornell, and early sculptures such as ...

Article

(b Los Angeles, CA, July 11, 1951).

American sculptor. Bloom studied at the California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles, with John Baldessari, Robert Irwin, and James Lee Byars. In 1974 Bloom moved to Amsterdam; she later divided her time between New York and Berlin. She became known for her installations, through which she questioned the relationship between vision and desire. In several groups of works she uses photographic images of parapsychological events to bring issues of the uncanny and unconscious into the realm of the viewers’ perception and reception of art. Absence, which establishes the conditions for desire, is symbolized by photographs of seances, UFOs, or infrared images. The photographic medium enhances the effect of historical record, while highlighting the absence inherent in the attempt to document events and objects that do not exist. In a well-known work, The Collection: The Reign of Narcissism (mixed-media installation, 1989), Bloom meticulously recreated a very bourgeois interior with furnishings and accessories to examine the home and how it structures our understanding of ourselves and the world. Also, in an ironic take on artistic identity, the space was filled with objects self-glorifying the person and accomplishments of a fictive ‘Barbara Bloom’. In dealing with the home, the familiar or the native (...

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 ...