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Article

Francis Summers

revised by Martin R. Patrick

(b Antwerp, Aug 22, 1959).

Belgian-born interdisciplinary artist, active in Mexico. He studied architecture at the Institut d’Architecture de Tournai in Belgium (1978–83) and at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice (1983–6). Alÿs moved to Mexico in 1987 and his art practice initially concentrated on Mexico City as a laboratory of urban living, often documented in the form of evocative, conceptually layered photographs, sculptures, and videos. In the slide series Ambulantes (Pushing and Pulling) (1992–2002), Alÿs photographed street vendors and workers as they passed by carting a wide variety of goods within a ten-block vicinity of his studio. For his project entitled The Liar, The Copy of the Liar (1997) Alÿs created small images of suited men inspired by the commercial sign painters of Mexico City, and subsequently commissioned from them larger versions in their own styles. In this process Alÿs deferred authorship into a semantic chain. Hovering between the banal and the surreal, these works have an uncanny theme, of individuals observed in situations that defy explanation....

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Bari, June 14, 1938).

Italian sculptor, performance designer and conceptual artist. He abandoned architectural studies in Naples in the late 1950s to immerse himself in Rosicrucianism. In Rome, Pisani undertook conceptual analyses of the work of Robert Motherwell (1960–65) and of Marcel Duchamp (1965–70). The results were first seen in 1970 in the show Maschile, femminile e androgino: Incesto e cannibalismo in Marcel Duchamp (Rome, Gal. Salita), in which he presented such psychoanalytically informed objects as Chocolate Cast of Suzanne Duchamp (1965; see 1970 exh. cat., p. 19). Pisani won the Premio Pino Pascali (1970) and began to participate in Arte Povera and to collaborate with Michelangelo Pistoletto. He drew parallels between artistic and alchemical activity, placing himself alongside Duchamp, Yves Klein and Joseph Beuys; the latter was the subject of the repetitive performance piece The Rabbit Does Not Like Joseph Beuys (1975; Rome, Gal. Sperone). The symbolic cruciform structure of the performance ...

Article

Nadja Rottner

French critic and philosopher Nicolas Bourriaud adopted the term ‘relational aesthetics’ in the mid-1990s to refer to the work of a selected group of artists, and what he considers their novel approach to a socially conscious art of participation: an art that takes as its content the human relations elicited by the artwork. Its key practitioners, most of them emerging in the 1990s, include Rirkrit Tiravanija , Philippe Parreno (b 1964), Liam Gillick, Pierre Huyghe, Maurizio Cattelan, Carsten Höller , and Vanessa Beecroft . For example, Carsten Höller installed Test Site (2006) at the Tate Modern in London so that visitors could enjoy the amusement park thrill of large playground slides in the museum’s Turbine Hall, and bond with fellow viewers over their experience. Bourriaud’s collected writings in Relational Aesthetics (1998, Eng. edn 2002) helped to spark a new wave of interest in participatory art.

While Bourriaud omits acknowledging the historical roots of relational art, Marxist-influenced critiques of the changing conditions of modern life, and arguments for art’s ability to improve man’s relationship with reality have a long history in 20th-century art. Critics Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer were among the first to developed new models for an art of politicized participation in the 1920s. The relational art of the 1990s and early 2000s is a continuation and an extension of traditions of participatory art throughout the 20th century (such as ...

Article

Marita Sturken

Culture of images and visuality that creates meaning in our world today. This includes media forms such as photography, film, television, and digital media; art media such as painting, drawing, prints, and installations; architecture and design; comic books and graphic novels; fashion design, and other visual forms including the look of urban life itself. It also encompasses such social realms as art, news, popular culture, advertising and consumerism, politics, law, religion, and science and medicine. The term visual culture also refers to the interdisciplinary academic field of study that aims to study and understand the role that images and visuality play in our society; how images, gazes, and looks make meaning socially, culturally, and politically; how images are integrated with other media; and how visuality shapes power, meaning, and identity in contemporary global culture.

The emergence of the concept of visual culture as a means to think about the role of images in culture and as an academic field of study is a relatively recent phenomenon, emerging in the late 1980s and becoming established by the late 1990s. There were numerous factors that contributed to the idea that images should be understood and analysed across social arenas rather than as separate categories, including the impact of digital media on the circulation of images across social realms, the modern use of images from other social arenas (such as news and advertising) in art, and the cross-referencing of cultural forms displayed in popular culture and art. It was also influenced by the increasingly visible role played by images in political conflict and a general trend toward interdisciplinarity in academia....

Article

Ewa Mikina

(b Volhynia, Oct 10, 1938).

Polish performance artist and conceptual artist. He studied at the Faculty of Architecture at Kraków Technical University from 1956 to 1962 and at the Academy of Fine Arts, Kraków (1964–5). After 1969 he produced at intervals powerful linear semi-abstract paintings resembling three-dimensional projections on to a plane. His first performance, Poetic Quarter Hour with Piano and Record Player (1967; Kraków), based on an improvised poetic recitation, was transformed into verbal-jazz improvisations featuring Tomasz Stańko (1967–8). In the early 1970s Warpechowski produced a number of conceptual works bordering on performance art (e.g. a clock encased in a block of plaster of Paris, a blank tape-measure, a bookbinding press with an empty plate, darkness enclosed in the palms of hands). The performances of the 1970s, such as Liberation of Pure Usefulness (1974), were inspired by Daoist philosophy and dealt with ideas, reality and nothingness, whereas his understanding of the creative process stemmed from the European Romantic tradition. After ...