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Article

Abramović, Marina  

Francis Summers

revised by Jessica Santone

(b Belgrade, Nov 30, 1946).

Serbian performance artist, video artist and installation artist. She attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade (1965–70) before completing her post-diploma studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb, in 1972. Her early works included sound recordings installed on bridges, paintings of truck crashes, and experiments with conceptual photography (see Widrich, pp. 80–97). In her first significant performance, Rhythm 10 (1973), she repeatedly and rapidly stabbed the spaces between her fingers with various knives. Later, in Rhythm 0 (1974; see Ward, pp. 114–30), she invited gallery visitors to choose from 72 available objects to use on her body, as she stood unresponsive for 6 hours. Her infamous performance Thomas’ Lips (1975; see M. Abramović and others, pp. 98–105), in which she cut, flagellated, and froze herself, established her practice as one that dramatically explored the physical limits of the human body, as seen in the work of Gena Pane or Chris Burden (...

Article

Adaeagbo, Georges  

Simon Njami

(b Contou, 1942).

Beninois installation artist. He studied law in France, and it was not until he returned to Benin in 1971 that he became an artist, by accident. Considered mad by his family, he was sent to a psychiatric hospital a few times before encountering Jean Michel Rousset, a young Frenchman who reassured him about his talent. In his compound Adaeagbo creates an ever-changing assemblage of found materials: sculptures, stones, clothing, newspapers. New materials are added, and old objects are rearranged. These creations function as historical documents of his times, as well as of particular days, as he works each day after his walks. His work has been described as reflecting and evoking the ‘madness in words’: the inability to understand words, and the conflicts that arise from this lack of understanding. It can also be seen as a comment on his own life and the suffering of a misunderstood artist. In Adaeagbo’s smaller pieces, objects are combined with a greater emphasis on symbolic intent than aesthetic concerns. He has exhibited at the Institut Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (...

Article

Aguirre, Carlos  

Victor Manuel Muñoz Vega

(b Acapulco, Jan 5, 1948).

Mexican mixed-media and installation artist. He studied industrial design at the Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, and continued with graduate studies at the School of Arts and Design in London. The artistic trajectory of Aguirre shows different stages characterized by the obsessive, post-conceptual search for new elements of the visual language. In the beginning his work was involved with documentary materials referring to national historical events in Mexico (1978–1987). Later on he was involved through successive phases with significant objects and images integrated in flawless ephemeral installations to articulate critical discourses of current social and environmental reality (1988–1998). In the subsequent twenty years he was dedicated to an analytical and critical work of written language in the media (1998–2017).

Attentive to the materials and the nature of objects as the center of acute semiotics, Aguirre constructed with impeccable treatment, synthetic visual sets full of physical and significant tensions. Metal, plastic, wood, organic materials, bones, photographs, ashes, tools, various objects, cables, presses, logs, machetes, and axes are recurrent elements in his language. With them he referred to relations of power and inequality, depredations and submission, violence and fears....

Article

Alberola, Jean-Michel  

Aurélie Verdier

(b Saïda, Algeria, 1953).

French painter, sculptor, photographer, film maker, writer and installation artist of Algerian birth. Born to Spanish parents, he was much affected by North African as well as Southern European culture. He trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre. Despite a pervasive and diverse use of media, Alberola often stressed the coexistence of his different artistic practices as leading to painting alone. His paintings relied heavily on evocative narratives, at once personal and ‘historical’. Alberola conceived of his role as a storyteller, on the model of African oral cultures. Convinced that narratives could not be renewed, he argued that a painter’s main task was to reactivate his work through contact with his pictorial heritage. The main points of reference for his paintings of the early 1980s were Velázquez, Manet or Matisse, whose works he quoted in a personal way. In the early 1980s he undertook a series of paintings inspired by mythological subjects, which he combined with his own history as the principal subject-matter of his work. The biblical story of Susannah and the Elders as well as the Greek myth of Actaeon provided his most enduring subjects, both referring to the act of looking as taboo, as in ...

Article

Alexander, Jane  

Kevin Mulhearn

(b Johannesburg, 1959).

South African sculptor and installation and multimedia artist. Though Alexander trained as a sculptor at the University of the Witwatersrand, earning a Bachelor in Fine Arts in 1982 and a Masters in 1988, she nevertheless pursued a variety of artistic disciplines, regularly employing photomontage and sometimes using video in her practice. While working towards her Masters’ degree, she produced Butcher Boys (1985–6), an iconic work from this contentious era in South African history. The sculptural tableau presents three monstrous, grey nude male figures built from plaster over a gauze core and glazed with oil paint. Seated casually on a bench, their heads strikingly combine human and animal forms, with twisting horns and sealed-up mouths. While Butcher Boys, like many of the artist’s works, responded to its socio-historical context, Alexander typically has not produced explicitly political work or supplied interpretive statements, preferring pieces to remain open-ended in their meanings....

Article

Allora & Calzadilla  

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

Alvim, Fernando  

Carol Magee

revised by Kimberly Bobier

(b Luanda, 1963).

Angolan sculptor, installation artist, and curator. Alvim began exhibiting internationally in the 1980s, at such shows as Africus, the 1995 Johannesburg Biennale; the 1997 Bienal de Havana; and Dak’Art ’98. His mixed-media pieces are powerful, haunting works through which he explores the memories and scars left by the trauma of growing up in a war-torn country. He generally evokes life in Luanda: displaced peoples, failed hopes, the patchwork organization of the urban space. In his overwhelmingly dark scenes, neon light illuminates found objects surrounded by canvas or metal, often superimposed with photographic images, creating a psychological intensity. Crosses, skulls, and maps predominate in his work of the early 1990s. In 1997 he collaborated with Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa and South African artist Gavin Younge in a project that brought them to Cuito Canaval, a Cuban-Angolan community and former battle site, to comment on the devastating effects of war suffered there. This sojourn resulted in a touring multimedia exhibition ...

Article

Alÿs, Francis  

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

Amer, Ghada  

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

Anatsui, El  

Lisa M. Binder

(b Anyako, Ghana, June 13, 1944).

Ghanaian sculptor, active in Nigeria. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sculpture (1968) and a postgraduate diploma in art education from the University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana (1969). After graduation he taught at the Specialist Training College (now University of Winneba), Ghana, in a position vacated by the eminent sculptor Vincent Kofi. From 1975 he was Professor of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Anatsui’s practice often makes use of found objects including bottle caps, milk-tins and cassava graters. However, he is not concerned with recycling or salvaging; instead he seeks meaning in the ways materials can be transformed to make statements about history, culture and memory.

His early work consists of ceramic sculptures manipulated to reconfigure pieces of memory. In 1978 he began his Broken Pots series, which was exhibited the following year at the British Council in Enugu, Nigeria. Several of the ceramic works were made of sherds that were fused together by a grog-like cement of broken pieces. Making art historical references to ...

Article

Antonakos, Stephen  

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

Arahmaiani  

Agung Hujatnikajennong

(b Bandung, May 21, 1961).

Indonesian installation, video and performance artist and writer. Arahmaiani graduated from the Fine Art Department of Bandung Institute of Technology in 1983 and then continued her studies at the Paddington Art School, Sydney (1985–6) before attending the Akademie voor Beeldende Kunst & Vormgeving (AKI), Enschede (1991–2). During the 1980s she was also part of a rebellious young artists’ movement in Indonesia.

Arahmaiani is known for her specific point of view in responding to the domination of academicism in the Indonesian art world, which became her departure point in developing Happenings and performance art during the early 1980s; a boom era of painting and commercialization that occurred as a result of the economic boosting under the Indonesian New Order regime. One of her most important works, Newspaper Man (1981), in which she wrapped her body in newspaper advertisements and walked through the streets and shopping malls of Bandung, stimulated a more vibrant practice and discourse on the use of human body as an art medium in Indonesian art. ...

Article

Arai, Tomie  

Margo Machida

(b New York, Aug 16, 1949).

American printmaker and installation artist. Born and raised in New York City, Arai, a third-generation Japanese American printmaker, mixed-media artist, public artist and cultural activist, studied art at the Philadelphia College of Art and The Printmaking Workshop in New York. Since the 1970s, her diverse projects have ranged from individual works to large-scale public commissions (see Public art in the 21st century). She has designed permanent public works, including an interior mural commemorating the African burial ground in lower Manhattan and an outdoor mural for Philadelphia’s Chinatown. Other works include Wall of Respect for Women (1974), a mural on New York’s Lower East Side, which was a collaboration between Arai and women from the local community. Her art has been exhibited in such venues as the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, International Center for Photography, P.S.1 Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art, all New York and the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Joan Mitchell Foundation....

Article

Ataman, Kutlug  

Michael Jay McClure

(b Istanbul, 1961).

Turkish video and installation artist, active also in England and Pakistan. He was educated at Mimar Sinan University, the Sorbonne, Paris, Los Angeles Santa Monica College, and the University of California, Los Angeles (MFA, 1988). Ataman holds a prominent place among artists exploring identity, sexuality, documentation, and the cultural politics of the Middle East and its diasporas; his work echoes that of Shirin Neshat, Omer Fast, Mona Hatoum, and the more commercial filmmaker Fatih Akin, among others.

Producing multi-channel ‘video sculptures’, Ataman explores states of psychological, cultural, and social displacement, often employing massive amounts of footage in a quasi-documentary style. An early piece, Women Who Wear Wigs (1999; see images tab for additional illustration), is a representative example. On a four-channel display, four Turkish women reveal their reasons for donning wigs: a reporter who recently lost her hair due to chemotherapy, a transsexual prostitute forced to shave her head by the police, a targeted terrorist who disguises herself, and a student banned from wearing a traditional headscarf in school. The wig, which conceals and connects these women, parallels how Ataman uses video: as a medium that both reveals and obfuscates its subjects. A spectator must negotiate not only the truth of the stories but also their syncopated broadcasts distributed over the space of the exhibition. Indeed, Ataman often uses the situation of the screens to disorienting sculptural effect. In ...

Article

Atnafu, Elisabeth Tariqua  

Carol Magee

(b Dec 8, 1956).

Ethiopian painter, installation artist, graphic designer, and writer, active in the USA. She grew up in Addis Ababa in a family of painters before moving to the USA. She graduated from Howard University, Washington, DC, with a BFA in painting (1975) and returned in 1994 for an MFA. Her early works, based on dreams or visions, have richly textured surfaces. In the 1980s she abandoned her early palette of reds, ochres, and greens for one of purples and blues. Later paintings depict an urban environment and frequently evoke the feeling of dislocation and nostalgia that comes from living in a country that is not one’s own. Her use of themes and motifs from myriad cultures (including those of Ethiopia and Latin America) comes out of her experiences as a diasporic subject as well as the lives of the women around her. Her pieces often tell their stories, as in the Dream Dancers series (...

Article

Aycock, Alice  

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

Bamgboyé, Oladélé Ajiboyé  

Morgan Falconer

(b Nigeria, 1963).

Nigerian photographer, film maker, installation artist and writer active in Scotland. He studied Chemical Engineering at Strathclyde University, Glasgow (1981–85), before completing an MA in Media, Fine Art, Theory and Practice at the Slade School of Fine Art, London (1996–8). Bamgboyé’s earliest work was photographic: The Lighthouse series (1989; see 1998 book, p. 65) initiated his interest in the representation of black masculinity by depicting his own naked body in often theatrical contortions, amid mundane domestic rooms; the frames of the photographs are attached to coat hangers, underlining the theme of domesticity and pointing to his interest in the changeable character of subjectivity. These themes were further explored in films, which he began to make in 1993: Spells for Beginners (1994; see 2000 exh. cat., p. 74) explores the breakdown of his long-term relationship with a woman through a broken mix of confessional dialogue and fleeting images of their home. The installation of which this film is a part takes the form of an ordinary living room and is typical of Bamgboyé’s technique of adumbrating his imagery with sculptural motifs that emphasize his themes. In other films he explored the issue of migration: ...

Article

Banksy  

Elizabeth K. Mix

(b Bristol, ?1974).

English graffiti and interventionist artist. Banksy is best known for stencilled graffiti that sometimes mimics government posts. His graffiti, both freehand and stencil, started appearing on trains and walls around Bristol in 1992–4. He apparently left Bristol for London late in 1999. The name ‘Banksy’ became formally associated with his work with the publication of his first book, Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall (2001).

Banksy’s text-based graffiti has included the phrase, ‘caution, concealed trap doors in operation’, on London’s Millennium Bridge; ‘designated riot area’ in Trafalgar Square, and ‘this is not a not a photo opportunity’ at various tourist sites including Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sydney Opera House. Many were fooled by his official-looking stencilled declaration that walls on Marylebone and Bayswater Roads in Westminster were ‘a designated graffiti area’. Other works contained unusual appropriations of public property—vandalized street signs, traffic cones, telephone booths, vehicles, and even farm animals. Banksy has termed his appropriation and manipulation of public advertisements ‘Brandalism’. A subtle use of found objects involves the painting of frames or dotted lines and scissors around the edges of objects, making the outlined objects appear to be either artworks or coupons ready to be clipped. In addition, Banksy has mimicked British pound notes (‘Banksy notes’ featuring Princess Diana) and oil paintings by William Bouguereau and Claude Monet, among other artists, by inserting incongruous objects (bombs, iPods, shopping trolleys) into copies of well-known paintings in a series of ‘Vandalized Oil Paintings’....

Article

Banner, Fiona  

John-Paul Stonard

(b Merseyside, June 23, 1966).

English sculptor and conceptual artist. She studied at Kingston Polytechnic, Surrey (1986–9), and at Goldsmiths’ College of Art in London (1992–3). She had her first solo exhibition at City Racing, London, in 1994, and in the following year was included in General Release: Young British Artists at the XLVI Venice Biennale. Banner came to prominence with her ‘wordscapes’, large text works that recount the plots of feature films or other events. The first of these was Top Gun (pencil on paper, 2.13×4.57 m, 1993), a hand-written account of the film Top Gun presented on a cinematic scale. The ‘wordscapes’ led to the publication in 1997 of The Nam, 1000 pages of continuous text describing the Vietnam war movies Apocalypse Now, Born on the Fourth of July, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Hamburger Hill and The Deer Hunter. This unreadable text points to the excess of violence in such films, the numbing of critical faculties, as well as the mythologizing and fictionalizing framing devices used to interpret historical events. Towards the end of the 1990s she became interested in the implications of punctuation signs, dwelling on their qualities as abstract marks that give structure to text. By selecting a variety of fonts, enlarging the full stop signs to ...

Article

Barney, Matthew  

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 ...