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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

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

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

Joan Marter

(b Alexandria, Egypt, May 4, 1913; d Easthampton, NY, Dec 30, 2003).

American sculptor. Lassaw’s parents were Russian, but he spent his childhood in Egypt, where he attended a French lycée. In 1921 he immigrated with his family to New York, where he began his artistic training with traditional clay modelling at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and in 1927 at the Clay Club. In 1931–2 he attended evening classes at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design. After modelling clay figures, in 1933 he turned to abstract sculpture, and was among the first American sculptors to do so in the 1930s. Early open-space constructions such as Sculpture in Steel (1938; New York, Whitney) combine biomorphic elements with Constructivist methods. The leaflike elements suspended from a metal bar seem indebted to Alberto Giacometti’s Surrealist sculptures of the 1930s.

Lassaw studied the welded constructions of Julio González and Pablo Picasso, which were illustrated in French periodicals, and he was attracted to their openwork compositions in industrial metals. While Lassaw’s earliest constructions were made of reinforced plaster on pipe and wire armatures, by ...

Article

Burt Chernow

(b College Point, NY, Aug 10, 1897; d Stamford, CT, Dec 4, 1986).

American sculptor. He was the son of Armenian parents who immigrated to the USA from Turkey. In 1916 he was accepted as an apprentice in the studio of Paul Manship in New York. There he worked with Manship’s assistant, Gaston Lachaise, with whom he later shared a studio. The subjects of his early work were free-flowing, stylized animals, for example Seal (1930; New York, Whitney). In the 1930s he produced a series of life-size portrait busts of artists, collectors, and members of President Roosevelt’s first cabinet. In 1934 he exhibited a plaster sculpture, 2.44 m high, of the baseball hero Babe Ruth. The piece was greeted by much fanfare but never cast in bronze and was subsequently destroyed. Long unrecognized and on the brink of poverty, he nonetheless gradually developed a unique style under the influence of his friends Arshile Gorky and Stuart Davis. His most significant work was done after ...

Article

Paul J. Karlstrom

(b Van, Armenia, Jan 22, 1876; d San Francisco, CA, Sept 19, 1950).

American sculptor of Armenian birth. Among the most prominent sculptors in California during the first quarter of the 20th century, he immigrated in 1891 to the USA, where he joined his father who had escaped the Turkish authorities and settled in Fresno, CA. The young Patigian worked as a vineyard labourer and sign painter until he moved in 1899 to San Francisco, where he enrolled at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art and worked at the San Francisco Bulletin. He spent the years 1906 and 1907 studying in Paris and returned to establish a successful career, greatly admired for his portrait busts, monuments, and architectural decoration. Three-time president of San Francisco’s exclusive Bohemian Club, he was also in the 1940s regional president of the rabidly anti-modernist Society for Sanity in Art.

According to one critic, Patigian loathed the avant-garde, the ideological, and the abstract. But he in fact embraced a different ideology, one deployed in traditional (anti-modernist) form. During his study in Paris, Patigian exhibited at the ...

Article

Susan Kart

Susan Kart

Term that emerged in Francophone Africa in the early 1990s to define a series of contemporary art, artisanal, and craft practices in which artists laid claim to abandoned spaces and/or abandoned (found object) materials. Récupération does not translate well into English, but in a fine art context can loosely be explained as the retooling of materials and spaces from the natural and man-made environments to produce new objects and installations with cultural, political, and aesthetic implications.

One of the first documentarians of the movement was art historian Abdou Sylla. He positioned Senegalese artists who were practicing récupération (which he called ‘assemblage’ and ‘installation’) in opposition to the recycling operations by those he called ‘baay jagal’, a Wolof term for a person who collects trash to re-use or sell. Sylla’s distinction was necessary in order to situate the found object works of récupération artists in Africa against the craft practices of making shoes out of car tires, or toys out of soft-drink cans and electrical wire....

Article

Catherine M. Grant

(b Rehovot, Palestine, Feb 25, 1944).

American sculptor and installation artist of Israeli birth. He studied for his BFA at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn between 1962 and 1968 after gaining US citizenship in 1962. Between 1971 and 1973 he studied for his MFA at Yale University, New Haven, CT. In the early 1970s he subverted the language of Minimalism in paintings, such as Brown Painting with Bars #3 (1973; see 1999 exh. cat., p. 66) by using linoleum strips instead of paint. This led to one of his first installations, Display #7 (1979; see 1999 exh. cat., pp. 74–5), for which he covered the walls of the reception room at the Artists Space, New York, with strips of wallpaper, and displayed various knick-knacks on shelves. Such presentations of everyday objects, which reference the ready-mades of Marcel Duchamp, continued to be a vital part of Steinbach’s practice. In 1985 the triangular shelves (hand-made and Minimalist in appearance) became a dominant motif, used to support a variety of mass-produced objects including boxes of cornflakes and other such prosaic items, often repeated (as in the Pop paintings of Andy Warhol) to emphasize the link between factory production and the commodification of art. His use of digital clocks, lava lamps and stacked saucepans in a work such as ...

Article

Daniel E. Mader

(b Cairo, Egypt, Feb 28, 1935).

American sculptor of English origin. He returned with his family to England in 1937 and studied history at Oxford University from 1955 to 1958 and sculpture in London, at the Central School of Art and Design and at St Martin’s School of Art, from 1959 to 1960. Like Phillip King and other British sculptors who took part in the influential exhibition The New Generation: 1965, in his early work he favoured simple geometric shapes and industrial materials such as fibreglass and sheet metal painted in bright colours. The works that he showed in this exhibition, such as Meru II (fabricated steel, 962×2324×410 mm, 1964; London, Tate), which consists of a series of stepped units rounded on the outside and rectilinear on the inside, bear a superficial resemblance to Minimalist work of the same period. In distinction to the work of Americans such as Donald Judd, however, Tucker suggested an organic development of form and even hinted at narrative, rather than proposing basic geometric forms that could be perceived in their entirety almost at a glance. In the 1970s, with works such as ...

Article

Carlos Lastarria Hermosilla

(b Santiago, Sept 9, 1931; d Santiago, May 18, 1993).

Chilean sculptor. He studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Santiago under the Chilean sculptors Julio Antonio Vásquez (b 1900), Lily Garáfulic (1914–2012), and Marta Colvin. He left Chile in 1958 for Spain, France, and Morocco, settling in Spain in 1961 but returning to Chile in 1974 to produce a number of works, including an important commission for the Parque de las Esculturas in Santiago (Bandaged Torso; stone, h. 1.62 m, installed 1989), before leaving again for Spain.

Valdivieso worked in bronze and in stone (granite, limestone, diorite, and basalt). Much of his work was concerned with natural forms, conveyed with a directness of feeling. Approaching mass through a process of gradual abstraction, Valdivieso sought a balance between the visual and tactile qualities of his materials and the meanings implicit to their forms. He often formulated his sculptures first in easily molded, ductile materials, which he then translated into the final work. He particularly favored chrome-plated bronze for its accentuation of the surface with its brilliant finish....