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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

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

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

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....

Article

Joan Marter

(b Albert Lea, MN, June 7, 1941).

American conceptual artist and writer. Kelly received instruction in fine art and music at the College of St Teresa, Winona, MN, and fine art and aesthetics at the Pius XII Institute, Florence (MA 1965). She taught art briefly in Beirut in the 1960s. In 1968 she moved to London, where she received a postgraduate certificate in painting at St Martin’s School of Art. From 1968 Kelly worked in London as artist, teacher, editor, and writer. She practised a long-term critique of conceptualism, informed by feminist theory. Her work was related to her active involvement in the women’s movement throughout the 1970s. Kelly is best known for projects addressing questions of sexuality, identity, and memory. Her installations feature large-scale narratives including relevant documentation. Kelly’s work is renowned for its enquiry into cultural identity, particularly the construction of femininity and power in Western capitalist society, and it draws on and criticizes the work of Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, and other cultural theorists....

Article

Nancy Ring

(b Toledo, OH, Jan 31, 1945).

American conceptual artist and writer. He was deeply interested in philosophy and the social sciences and conducted a sustained, methodical inquiry into the rules that govern art. He trained at the Toledo Museum School of Design (1955–62), also taking private lessons, and completed his studies as a painter at the Cleveland Art Institute (1963–4). In 1965 he began to produce works with a basis in language, some fashioned from neon and glass, others linking objects, images, and texts into simple and self-referential series. The work One and Three Chairs (1965; Cologne, Paul Maenz Gal.), for example, consists of a full-scale photograph of a chair, an actual chair and a dictionary definition of the word ‘chair’ lined in a row, together forming a closed system that resists any kind of transcendent meaning.

Kosuth dispensed with objects entirely in his Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) series (...

Article

(b Newark, NJ, Jan 26, 1945).

American conceptual artist, designer, and writer. She enrolled at Parsons School of Design, New York, where her teachers included the photographer Diane Arbus and Marvin Israel (1924–84), a successful graphic designer and art director of Harper’s Bazaar, who was particularly encouraging. When Kruger’s interest in art school waned in the mid-1960s, Israel encouraged her to prepare a professional portfolio. Kruger moved to New York and entered the design department of Mademoiselle magazine, becoming chief designer a year later. Also at that time she designed book covers for political texts. In the late 1960s and early 1970s she became interested in poetry and began writing and attending readings. From 1976 to 1980 she lived in Berkeley, CA, teaching and reflecting on her own art. Kruger later taught at Art Institute of Chicago and joined the visual arts faculty of the University of California San Diego in 2002, and later the University of California Los Angeles, dividing her time between Los Angeles and New York....

Article

Margaret Barlow

(b Bronxville, NY, 1947).

American conceptual artist and photographer. She studied at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (BFA 1969), and became known for her museum-based installations, which call attention to the physical, economic and social trappings that define works of art in the West. Her pieces often include the works of other artists. In one series Lawler photographed certain works as they hung in the homes of collectors, along with their domestic surroundings and trappings: Pollock and Tureen (Cibachrome photograph, 1984; New York, Met.) shows the bottom edge of a Jackson Pollock painting and below it an 18th-century Chinese tureen with an ornate flower pattern on a wooden sideboard; the similarity of the colouring further encourages comparisons that can be made between such objects and questions of artistic sensibility. Lawler presented exhibitions in which she incorporated her own works within museum collections, including statements, photographs and questions: for example, in Enlargement of Attention (...

Article

Courtney Gerber

(b Norfolk, VA, Oct 11, 1957).

American multimedia conceptual artist. Due to her father’s position in the United States Marines, Lemieux spent the first years of her childhood moving from one southern military base to the next; however, she mostly spent the early 1960s growing up in Torrington, CT. Lemieux received her BFA in painting from Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, CT (1980), after which she promptly moved to New York. In 1983 she was severely injured after being hit by a van and temporarily lost the coordination and mobility necessary to continue producing the large geometric paintings that had occupied her energies since leaving Hartford. Lemieux’s mind, however, was still active and she found that by approaching art-making from a conceptual standpoint she was free to explore new ways of physically realizing her artistic intent. In 1984 the painter David Salle, Lemieux’s former teacher for whom she also worked as a studio assistant, selected her for the exhibition ...