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Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Oakland, CA, 1893; d. Shiraz, Iran, 25 Jan. 1977).

American historian of Iranian art. While studying mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, Ackerman met and eventually married Arthur Upham Pope, with whom she had taken courses in philosophy and aesthetics. In 1926 she and Pope organized the first ever exhibition of Persian art at the Pennsylvania Museum and helped create the First International Congress of Oriental Art. In 1930 Ackerman was stricken with polio but taught herself to walk again. They were instrumental in preparing the 1931 Persian Art Exhibition at Burlington House, London, and the Second International Congress of Iranian Art and Archaeology, as well as the Third Congress in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1935 and the exhibition of Iranian art at the Iranian Institute in New York in 1940. She visited Iran for the first time in 1964, when the shah of Iran invited Pope to revive the Asia Institute; it was associated with Pahlavi University in Shiraz until ...

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

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

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

(b Seattle, WA, Aug 7, 1929).

American painter. Baer was educated at the University of Washington, Seattle. She worked during the spring and summer of 1950 on a kibbutz in Israel before moving to New York City, where she studied with the Graduate Faculty at the New School for Social Research from 1950 to 1953. In 1953, she married television writer Robert Baer and moved to Los Angeles, CA. Her son Joshua was born in 1955. By the late 1950s, she was working in an abstract painting style inspired by Abstract Expressionism, which she later rejected, and was peripherally associated with the activities of the avant-garde Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles.

In 1959, she began living with the artist John Wesley, whom she married in 1960 before moving back to New York City with him; they divorced in 1969. By 1960, her painting became more hard-edged and reductive. Two years later, she met Donald Judd and ...

Article

Martha Schwendener

[Ben Youseph Nathan, Esther Zeghdda]

(b London, Nov 21, 1869; d Brooklyn, NY, Nov 27, 1933).

American photographer. Born Esther Zeghdda Ben Youseph Nathan to a German mother and an Algerian father, she immigrated to the United States in 1895. She worked as a milliner in New York before opening a photographic portrait studio in 1897. Her ‘gallery of illustrious Americans’ featured actresses, politicians, and fashionable socialites, including President Theodore Roosevelt, author Edith Wharton, artist William Merritt Chase, and actress Julia Marlowe. Ben-Yusuf also created Pictorialist-inspired artwork like The Odor of Pomegranates (1899; see fig.), an allegory informed by the myth of Persephone and the idea of the pomegranate as a tantalizing but odourless fruit. Ben-Yusuf was included in an exhibition organized by the Linked Ring, Brotherhood of the in London in 1896 and continued to exhibit in the group’s annual exhibitions until 1902. Her photographs were exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1898 and at the Camera Club of New York in ...

Article

Konjit Seyoum

[Eskender, Alexander]

(b Addis Ababa, July 22, 1937; d Washington, DC May 4, 2003).

Ethiopian painter of Armenian descent, active in the USA. Boghossian studied at St Martin’s School of Art and the Central School in London from 1955 to 1957. He then moved to Paris to study at the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. During his Paris years, Boghossian embraced Pan-Africanist ideals and participated in the Negritude movement. Skunder returned to Ethiopia in 1966 and taught at the Fine Arts School in Addis Ababa, where he exerted considerable influence on young Ethiopian artists, until 1969. In 1967 he was awarded the Haile Selassie I Award for Fine Arts. He migrated to the United States in 1970 and became active in the Black Power movement. He joined Howard University in 1972 where he taught until 2001. During his tenure at Howard he inspired many Ethiopian diaspora and African American artists. Skunder drew on African mythology and Ethiopian Orthodox Church art to create mystical universes populated with masks, creatures, magical forms, and symbols. In works such as ...

Article

James D. Kornwolf

Reviser Margaret Barlow

(b Buffalo, NY, May 9, 1909; d New York, Aug 6, 1990).

American architect. He graduated in architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (BArch, 1933; MArch, 1935). In the years 1935–7 he was in Europe and North Africa on the Rotch Traveling Scholarship. Following his return to New York in 1937 he joined the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). In 1938, with Robert A. Green (b 1910), he submitted a design in the well-known Wheaton College Art Center (Illinois) competition, which aimed at bringing modernism to the American campus. The scheme, which won an Honorable Mention, derived from Impington Village College (1936–9) by Walter Gropius and E. Maxwell Fry in Cambridgeshire, England, and the Bunshaft and Green design confirmed their acceptance of the International Style idiom. Bunshaft was thus among the first American architects to embrace European Modernism, but unlike others, such as Edward Durrell Stone, Philip Johnson, and Eero Saarinen, he never rejected its machine-age imperatives. More pragmatic and vernacular in his approach, he never entered the arena of architectural theory, history, or criticism....

Article

(Ivan)

(b Groznyy, Azerbaijan, Oct 8, 1900; d Wellfleet, MA, May 8, 1996).

British–American architect of Russian birth. Chermayeff was educated in Moscow before immigrating to England in 1910 and completing his education at Harrow. In 1917 he served briefly as an interpreter to General Maynard in Murmansk and from 1918 to 1923 worked as a journalist for Amalgamated Press in London, where, because of his taste for jazz and ballroom dancing, he obtained the editorship of Dancing World magazine. Chermayeff studied art and architecture at various schools in Europe (1922–5), and in 1924 he became chief designer for the decorators E. Williams Ltd, doing ‘period’ rooms.

In 1928 Chermayeff was naturalized as a British citizen and became director of the Modern Art Department of Waring & Gillow, where he collaborated with the French designer Paul Follot; here he organized the first exhibition of modern furnishings in England, Modern Art in French and English Furniture and Decoration. From 1930 to 1932...

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

S. J. Vernoit

(b Ehden, Lebanon, Sept 14, 1912; d 1994).

American painter and stained-glass artist, of Lebanese birth. After an apprenticeship with the Lebanese painter Habib Srour (1860–1938) in Beirut, he studied from 1932 to 1936 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. In 1934 he received the top award for drawing at the school and later exhibited his work at the Salon des Artistes Français. After graduating in 1936, he returned to Lebanon, opening a studio in Beirut, and becoming well known in the early 1940s for his frescoes in the Maronite church at Diman. At the same time his paintings of Lebanese life and the countryside came to public notice when he exhibited at the gallery of the Hotel St–Georges, Beirut, though by the late 1940s he had begun to simplify the style of his work. In 1950 he moved to New York, where his paintings became increasingly abstract, consisting of flat forms of brilliant colour with hard straight edges. Although he was influenced by the artistic life around him, and by his acquaintance with Rothko, Hans Hofmann and Ad Reinhardt, he did not join any group or movement. He became an American citizen in ...

Article

Robert J. Belton

(b Jassy [now Iaşi], Romania, Aug 29, 1933).

Canadian sculptor, film maker, costume designer, playwright and poet of Romanian birth. His formal art training began in 1945 but in 1950 he emigrated to Israel. From 1953 he studied at the Institute of Painting and Sculpture in Tel Aviv. Etrog’s first one-man exhibition took place in 1958 and consisted of Painted Constructions, wood and canvas objects blurring the distinctions between painting and low relief (see Heinrich). In these works he tried to embody uncertainties that stemmed from his experience of Nazi aggression as a boy. The results were loosely expressionistic versions of geometric abstraction, derived in part from the work of Paul Klee.

Assisted by the painter Marcel Janco, Etrog went on a scholarship to New York, where he was inspired by Oceanic and African artefacts he saw in the collections there. This led to a preoccupation with organic abstractions, flowing totemic forms, and metaphors of growth and movement, seen in ...

Article

Gensler  

Sara Stevens

American architectural firm started by Arthur Gensler Drue Gensler, and Jim Follett in 1965 in San Francisco, CA. M. Arthur Gensler jr (b Brooklyn, New York, 1935) attended Cornell University to study architecture (BArch, 1957). The firm began doing build-outs for retail stores and corporate offices, and initially established itself in the unglamorous area of interior architecture. Thirty years later and without mergers or acquisitions, it had grown to become one of the largest architecture firms in the world, having pioneered the global consultancy firm specializing in coordinated rollouts of multi-site building programmes. By 2012 the firm had over 3000 employees in over 40 offices. From the beginning, Art Gensler conceived of a global firm with multiple offices serving corporate clients whose businesses were becoming more international. Instead of the ‘starchitect’ model of his contemporaries such as I. M. Pei or Paul Rudolph, Gensler wanted an ego-free office that existed to serve client needs, not pursue a designer’s aesthetic agenda at the client’s expense. By adopting new web-based computing technologies and integrated design software in the early 1990s, the firm stayed well connected across their many offices and were more able than their competitors to manage large multi-site projects. Expanding from the services a traditional architecture firm offers, the company pushed into new areas well suited to their information technology and interiors expertise, such as organizational design, project management, and strategic facilities planning....

Article

Despina Stratigakos

(b Riga, Latvia, March 12, 1901; d Washington, DC, April 19, 1978).

American architect of Latvian birth, active also in Palestine. Gidoni was a Berlin-based architect who was among those who fled Nazi persecution and helped to bring European modernism to Palestine and the USA. She attended the Academy of Arts in St Petersburg in Russia and received further training at the Berlin Technical University, but did not graduate with a degree. In 1928 she opened an office for interior design in Berlin. When Adolf Hitler seized power in 1933, her Jewish background put her at peril. Hearing that people with technical skills were needed for the construction of new cities in Palestine, she resettled in Tel Aviv, where she maintained her own architecture office from 1933 to 1938. Both her design skills and the vision of a modern architecture that she had brought with her from Berlin were in demand. Tel Aviv was not only growing rapidly, but also developing a new style....

Article

Harry Rand

[Adoian, Vosdanig Manoog]

(b Dzov, Turkish Armenia, April 15, 1904; d Sherman, CT, July 21, 1948).

American painter of Armenian birth. One of the most illustrious artists of the post-war New York School, he began his life in possibly the most obscure circumstances of any international modern master. His father emigrated to the USA to avoid conscription into the Turkish Army in World War I; in the Turkish persecution of the Armenians, Gorky’s mother died in her son’s arms after a 120-mile march. With his sister (who later figured prominently in his paintings) Gorky made his way to the coast and then, by ship, to the USA, arriving at New York in April 1920.

Gorky settled into a community of Armenians in New England and attempted a reconciliation with his father, but when that failed he moved from Massachusetts to New York City (c. 1925). There he assumed his pseudonym, claiming to be a cousin of the Russian writer, Maksim Gor’ky whose name, however, was a ...

Article

Elisabeth Vitou

(b Istanbul, Nov 21, 1900; d Antibes, Oct 29, 1970).

American architect of Armenian birth. After studying at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna, he worked for a time with Josef Hoffmann and Oskar Strnad. He went to live in Paris in 1920 and became an important colleague of Robert Mallet-Stevens. His first projects included a design for a concrete villa on pilotis, which Siegfried Giedion considered a forerunner of Le Corbusier’s Villa Laroche, and which confirmed him to be an exponent of functionalism, favouring concrete, geometric volumes and smooth walls. He gained public recognition with his designs for Sonia Delaunay’s Boutique Simultanée and the Cubist garden at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925. This led to the commission for the garden of the villa for Vicomte Charles de Noailles at Hyères. In 1926, while working on Robert Mallet-Stevens’s Rue Mallet-Stevens in Paris, he set up his own firm and worked on a variety of projects for villas and large houses in the Paris area and on the Côte d’Azur. The widely publicized villa that he built for the couturier ...

Article

Adam M. Thomas

[Osvaldo Luigi]

(b Cairo, Egypt, April 9, 1906; d Amagansett, NY, Sept 3, 1956).

American painter of Italian origin. After residing in Europe, his family relocated to New York in 1914. Guglielmi studied at the National Academy of Design from 1920 to 1925 and became a naturalized citizen in 1927. He arrived at his first mature painting style in the early 1930s. Guglielmi was among the principal practitioners of Social Surrealism, an American variant of European Surrealist art that adapted some of its imagery and techniques but eschewed its sexual symbolism and psychic automatism. Guglielmi rooted his pictures in the physical world in order to address social and political issues but, unlike Social Realism, did so through the use of unexpected or irrational juxtapositions and disorienting variations in scale. Although Guglielmi was not actively engaged in politics, many of his paintings contain expressly political, if sometimes ambiguous, content, such as Phoenix (The Portrait in the Desert) (1935; Lincoln, U. NE, Sheldon Mem. A.G.), in which a foreground portrait of Vladimir Lenin presides over a deserted landscape of factories and rubble....

Article

Mary M. Tinti

[Heukelekian, Haig]

(b Istanbul, March 28, 1905; d Woodstock, NY, Feb 17, 1993).

American sculptor of Armenian heritage. Hague came to the New York art scene by a most circuitous route. Raised in Turkey, Hague learned English at the Roberts College Preparatory School in Istanbul before moving to Egypt with his family in 1921. From there, he traveled through France on his way to the mid-western United States, where he enrolled at Iowa State University, Ames. Hague left Iowa after his first year and moved to Chicago, where he spent three months dancing on the vaudeville circuit. From that point on, Haig Heukelekian went by his stage name, Raoul Hague. In 1922, Hague began studies at the Art Institute of Chicago but quickly realized his skills were not in drawing or draftsmanship.

In 1925, Hague moved to New York City, attended the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design (1925–7), began fraternizing with artists at the Art Students League (1927–8), and became close friends with ...

Article

Roy R. Behrens

(b Flint, MI, Sep 13, 1940).

American book designer, typographer poet and teacher . His father was from Lebanon and his mother was an American-born paediatrician and bibliophile. He studied art at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI (1964) and at the nearby Cranbrook Academy of Art (1966). While visiting Iowa City, IA as an undergraduate, he met Harry Duncan (1917–97), a printer and typographer at the University of Iowa, who was also a leading participant in the revival of interest in letterpress printing. It was during that visit that he first saw a hand-crafted letterpress book. In Detroit he founded The Perishable Press Limited in 1964, followed soon after by the Shadwell Papermill at Cranbrook; involvements that gradually led to the publication of about 130 limited edition books by such well-known writers as Paul Blackburn, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Loren Eiseley, Denise Levertov, W. S. Merwin, Howard Nemerov, Toby Olson, Joel Oppenheimer, Jonathan Williams, William Stafford and Paul Auster. In ...