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Article

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

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 These creations function as historical documents of his times, as well as of particular days, as he works each day after his walks.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

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

Horacio Safons

(b Federal, Entre Ríos, Aug 22, 1928; d Buenos Aires, Feb 19, 1996).

Argentine painter, draftsman, and collagist. He studied under Juan Batlle Planas from 1950 to 1953 and quickly established the terms of his work, rooted ideologically in Surrealism and indebted in particular to the work of René Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico. All the elements of his mature art are evident in an early painting, Burning of the Hasidic School in Minsk in 1713 (1954; artist’s col.): architecture, space, light, and ordered series. He developed an essentially intellectual approach, working in a variety of media (paintings, drawings, gouaches, and collages) in rigorous sequences and picturing objects in cold impersonal light that confers on them a sense of distant majesty. The most common motif is that of a geometric, almost abstract, structure, often in the form of a tower pierced by rows of large plain windows. Aizenberg’s work, while far removed from the Surrealist presumption of achieving a synthesis of wakefulness and dream, acquires its strength through the ordering of the unreal and the strange in the search for a transcendent essence capable of perturbing and jolting the viewer by bringing into play the archetypes of silence and solitude....

Article

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Montero

(b Mexico City, 1970).

Mexican installation artist, video artist, and performance artist. Amorales studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, after attending Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (1996–1997), both in Amsterdam. He worked with images and signs of different types that when modified, combined, and recoded produce new images and meanings in turn. Based on pre-existing information and images he found on the Internet, Amorales created a particular way of working, more closely resembling that of a design studio than a traditional artist’s atelier. In his workspace and with a team of assistants, he proposed different ways of understanding the forms in which signs circulate and are appropriated, inquiring into notions of authorship, communication, and artistic media. From 1998 Amorales collected images from the Internet and converterted them into black, white, and red vectors. This collection is now known as the Liquid Archive. With these images, he produced several artworks in which multiplicity, repetition, and juxtaposition are constant. For example, in the video ...

Article

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

Deborah Cullen

(b Plainview, GA, Nov 13, 1930; d Brooklyn, New York, Nov 10, 2006).

African American painter, collagist, printmaker, and art advocate. Benny Andrews grew up under segregation in the rural South, one of 10 children in a sharecropper’s family. After graduating from high school, he served in the US Air Force. Afterwards, through the GI Bill of Rights, he studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received his BFA. In 1958, he moved to New York. Andrews received a John Hay Whitney Fellowship (1965–6) as well as a CAPS award from the New York State Council on the Arts (1971). From 1968 to 1997, he taught at Queens College, City University of New York and created a prison arts program that became a national model. In 1969, Andrews co-founded the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC), an organization that protested against the Harlem on my Mind exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Between ...

Article

Australian group of mixed-media artists active in 1962. They formed for the purpose of staging an exhibition of the same name. Ross Crothall (b 1934), Mike Brown and Colin Lanceley worked together in Crothall’s studio in Annandale, a suburb of Sydney, in 1961. They shared an interest in assemblage, collage, junk art, objets trouvés and in non-Western art. Brown, who had worked in New Guinea in 1959, was impressed by the use in tribal house decoration and body ornament of modern urban rubbish such as broken plates and bottletops. Crothall delighted in the altered objet trouvé, for example egg cartons unfolded to become the Young Aesthetic Cow, or pieces of furniture crudely gathered into frontally posed female icons, sparkling with buttons and swirling house-paint, with such titles as Gross Débutante. Lanceley was deeply influenced by his teacher John Olsen and through him by Jean Dubuffet. He covered impastoed surfaces with junk materials, often decorating distorted female forms with strings of pearls, broken plates and other items; in ...

Article

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

Saisha Grayson

(b Abington, PA, 1955).

American installation artist. Upon graduating from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, where she studied printmaking and painting, Apfelbaum moved to New York City in 1978. Apfelbaum consistently found ways to trouble the distinctions between painting, sculpture, craft, and installation-based practices, and between pure abstraction and a range of conceptual and cultural allusions. Such productive tensions abound in the ‘fallen paintings’ for which she is best known, which feature fabrics meticulously shaped and arranged in floor-bound compositions with titles that reference everything from Disney characters to punk bands to Italian cinema. Playfully poking fun at art historical taboos and tastes, her work is often addressed as a feminist, post-modernist response to Minimalism that embraces the emotional, the psychological, the ephemeral, and the sociopolitical potential of abstraction.

Apfelbaum’s first floor installation, Daisy Chain (1989), presented carved wooden shapes appropriated from an Andy Warhol silkscreen, which in turn had appropriated its graphics from a Scandinavian Airlines ticket, a chain of references inferred by the title, which itself invites associations. As in later work, its accumulated elements can simultaneously be appreciated from above as a pictorial composition, walked around like a sculpture, and experienced temporally and spatially as an installation. In ...

Article

Susanna Temkin

(b Barquisimeto, 1969).

Venezuelan photographer, filmmaker, and installation artist. He studied photography with Ricardo Armas (b 1952) from 1987 to 1988, and art history at the Universidad Central de Venezuela Caracas from 1987 to 1990. His art reveals the contradictions and fallacies of modernism, often explored through themes related to architecture and urban planning, as well as gender and identity. Much of Apostól’s work focused on his native Venezuela, and more particularly, on the city of Caracas and its citizens. However, the artist also produced works related to the cities of Bogotá, Los Angeles, and Madrid, where he was long based. Significantly, although his art conveys local particularities, it also bears wider implications about the legacy of modernism across the globe.

Much of Apóstol’s photographic practice involved the use of digital technology. By erasing, altering, or enhancing a photograph, he exposed the failures of modernism as embedded within Venezuelan architecture. Turning to the vernacular buildings of Caracas, his series ...

Article

Wystan Curnow

[Bates, Barrie]

(b Auckland, Jan 1, 1935).

New Zealand sculptor and conceptual artist. He studied at the Royal College of Art in London in the early 1960s and first showed his work alongside that of fellow students such as David Hockney and Derek Boshier, helping to mark the emergence of British Pop art. The pseudonym that he adopted in 1962 reflected his obsession with different ways of representing fruit. On moving in 1964 to New York he began to produce neon versions of popular icons. In 1970 he established Apple as one of New York’s first artist-run ‘alternative’ art spaces.

The conceptual element in Apple’s early Pop work became dominant in the late 1960s and 1970s. From 1975 to 1980 he concentrated on the deconstruction of the ‘white cube’ gallery exhibition space, proposing alterations to or actually changing existing interiors, notably at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York (1977, 1978, 1980) and at a number of public galleries in New Zealand (...

Article

Francis Summers

revised by Atteqa Ali

(b Karachi, 1935).

Pakistani conceptual artist, sculptor, painter, activist, writer, and curator, active in England. Originally trained as a civil engineer, Araeen began painting in the 1950s while living in Karachi, Pakistan, where he and a few artists created art in a modern style that was not fully accepted in the cultural milieu of the time. Lack of positive reception in Pakistan prompted his move to London in 1964, where he found more like-minded artists and gained further exposure to contemporary art. This helped him to develop his practice, which gradually shifted from painting to sculpture. Araeen was especially influenced by the works of Anthony Caro and Sol LeWitt, and started producing objects in a highly reduced abstract vocabulary, becoming a pioneer of British Minimalism. He drew on his experience as a civil engineer when constructing grid-like forms using lattice patterns similar to window structures. His sculpture Second Structure (1966–1967) employed crossing elements imbued with political content and articulated his solidarity with the oppressed around the world. Moving to London did not result in reception so different from Karachi—museums and galleries in England overlooked his work and did not provide support for him as an artist. These acts of institutional marginalization appalled Araeen and fueled the politicization of his art and life. He began to make art addressing identity politics and racism and became active in groups such as the Black Panthers. In ...

Article

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. ...