Herbert Bayer


Description taken directly from the MoMA Collection website:

American painter, designer, photographer and typographer, of Austrian birth. After serving in the Austrian army (1917–18), he studied architecture under Professor Schmidthammer in Linz in 1919 and in 1920 worked with the architect Emanuel Margold in Darmstadt. From 1921 to 1923 he attended the Bauhaus in Weimar, studying mural painting (with Vasily Kandinsky) and typography; it was at this time that he created the Universal alphabet, consisting only of lower-case letters. In 1925 he returned to the Bauhaus, then in Dessau, as a teacher of advertising, layout and typography, remaining there until 1928. For the next ten years he was based in Berlin as a commercial artist: he worked as art manager of Vogue (1929–30) and as director of the Dorland advertising agency. Shortly after his first one-man exhibitions at the Galerie Povolotski, Paris, and at the Kunstlerbund März, Linz (both 1929), he created photomontages of a Surrealist nature, such asHands Act (1932; see Cohen, p. 270).

In 1938 Bayer emigrated to the USA. Until 1945 he worked in New York as a commercial artist, exhibition designer, painter, sculptor and maker of environments. He became the leading art adviser for John Wanamaker and J. Walter Thompson, and director of art and design for Dorland International. His first one-man show in the USA took place at Black Mountain College, NC, in 1939, and he was represented in a number of important exhibitions at MOMA, New York, includingFantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism (1936), Bauhaus: 1919–28 (1938) and Art and Advertising Art (1943). In 1946 he moved to Aspen, CO, where he worked as design consultant for the development of Aspen, responsible for architectural projects such as the Walter Paepcke Memorial building, Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies (1963; see Cohen, p. 322). He also worked for the Container Corporation of America (CCA) in Chicago, first as consultant designer (1945–56) and then as Chairman of the Department of Design (1956–65). He designed and edited the World Geographic Atlas for the CCA between 1948 and 1953 and was art and design consultant for the Atlantic Richfield Company in 1966. He moved to Montecito, CA, in 1976.

Although Bayer considered himself primarily a painter, it was only in the early 1960s that he began to exhibit more consistently. Throughout his career he combined geometric and organic abstract forms in an imaginatively suggestive way in works such as Colorado (oil mural, 1948–67; Denver, CO, A. Mus.). In his photography his approach was similarly anti-narrative, focusing on the geometric abstract formations to be found in the real world, seen for example in Shadows on the Steps (1928; see Cohen, p. 259). The same geometric forms of spheres and cones that appeared frequently in his painting and photography were used in designs for environments, such as the white marble forms of Anaconda (1978; Denver, CO, Anaconda Tower). In his constant belief in the need to integrate all aspects of artistic creativity into the modern industrial world, Bayer was a true spokesman for the Bauhaus ethos, as well as its last surviving master. He was Visiting Artist at the Jerusalem Foundation in 1977 and Artist in Residence at the American Academy in Rome in 1978.

Shen Wei Dance Arts

The following biography taken directly from shenweidancearts.org

MacArthur Fellowship recipient Shen Wei, who was lead choreographer for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has been widely celebrated for his sophisticated choreography, lighting designs and minimalist costumes, recognized for his abstract paintings and, most recently, for his work in film. Praise for the breadth of his artistic versatility, vision and talent has earned Shen Wei numerous commissions and awards, including the U. S. Artists Fellow Award, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Nijinsky Award, Australia’s Helpmann Award for Best Ballet or Dance Work, and two recognitions from The New York Times for creation of one of the year’s best dance performances. The Washington Post has called Shen Wei “One of the great artists of our time” and The New York Times statesthat, “If there is something to write home about in the dance world, it is the startlingly imaginative work of the Chinese-born choreographer Shen Wei.”

Born in Hunan, China, Shen Wei studied Chinese opera from the age of nine. In 1991, he became a founding dancer and choreographer of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, the first modern dance company in China. In 1995, he received a scholarship from the Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab and moved to New York City, where in July 2000 he formed Shen Wei Dance Arts. After premiere performances of “Near the Terrace” at the American Dance Festival, Shen Wei’s work was soon seen in Taiwan, at New York’s Asia Society, The Space in London, the Stockholm Dance House, the Brighton Arts Festival, the Festival Theatre Edinburgh, and the Millennium Moves Festival in Germany.

Since forming his company, Shen Wei has received twelve commissions from the American Dance Festival, and others from Het Muziektheater Amsterdam, New York City Opera, Lincoln Center Festival, Park Avenue Armory, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Edinburgh International Festival, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, and Teatro Dell’Operadi Roma for a restaging of Rossini’s “Mosè in Egitto,” conducted by Riccardo Muti. Shen Wei was the first choreographer ever commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to create a work specifically for one of its galleries, which was performed by his company this past June when it premiered “Still Moving.”

Providing a home for the company during its 2012 season, Shen Wei was recently selected as a fellow for New York City Center’s inaugural Choreography Fellowship Program, a new initiative being launched in conjunction with the theater’s reopening season following a major restoration of the historic venue.

Ai Weiwei

Description taken directly from pbs.org 

Ai Weiwei was born in Beijing, China in 1957. An outspoken human rights activist, Ai was arrested by Chinese authorities in April 2011 and held incommunicado for three months. Upon his release, he was prohibited from traveling abroad, engaging in public speech, and was subjected to continued government surveillance. Ai’s position as a provocateur and dissident artist informs the tenor and reception of much of his recent work. He infuses his sculptures, photographs, and public artworks with political conviction and personal poetry, often making use of recognizable and historic Chinese art forms in critical examinations of a host of contemporary Chinese political and social issues. In his sculptural works he often uses reclaimed materials—ancient pottery and wood from destroyed temples —in a conceptual gesture that connects tradition with contemporary social concerns. He also employs sarcasm, juxtaposition, and repetition to reinvigorate the potency and symbolism of traditional images and to reframe the familiar with minimal means. A writer and curator, Ai extends his practice across multiple disciplines and through social media to communicate with a global public and to engage fellow artists with projects on a massive scale. Ai Weiwei attended the Beijing Film Academy and the Parsons School of Design in New York. He has received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Politics and Social Science, University of Ghent, Belgium (2010), as well as many awards, including the Skowhegan Medal (2011) and the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (2008). His work has appeared in major exhibitions at Kunsthaus Bregenz (2011); the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2011); Asia Society Museum, New York (2011); Tate Modern, London (2010); São Paulo Bienal (2010); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2009); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2009); and Documenta XII (2007). Ai Weiwei lives and works in Beijing, China.

Jenny Holzer

Biography found at pbs.org 

Jenny Holzer was born in Gallipolis, Ohio, in 1950. She received a BA from Ohio University in Athens (1972); an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence (1977); and honorary doctorates from the University of Ohio (1993), the Rhode Island School of Design (2003), and New School University, New York (2005). Whether questioning consumerist impulses, describing torture, or lamenting death and disease, Jenny Holzer’s use of language provokes a response in the viewer. While her subversive work often blends in among advertisements in public space, its arresting content violates expectations. Holzer’s texts—such as the aphorisms “Abuse of power comes as no surprise” and “Protect me from what I want”—have appeared on posters and condoms, and as electronic LED signs and projections of xenon light. Holzer’s recent use of text ranges from silk-screened paintings of declassified government memoranda detailing prisoner abuse to poetry and prose in a sixty-five-foot-wide wall of light in the lobby of 7 World Trade Center, New York. She has received many awards, including the Golden Lion from the Venice Biennale (1990); the Skowhegan Medal (1994); and the Diploma of Chevalier (2000) from the French government. Major exhibitions include Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2001); Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (1997); Dia Art Foundation, New York (1989); and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1989). Since 1996, Holzer has organized public light projections in cities worldwide. She was the first woman to represent the United States in the Venice Biennale (1990). Jenny Holzer lives and works in Hoosick Falls, New York.

Walter De Maria

The following biography found at guggenheim.org

Walter De Maria was born October 1, 1935, in Albany, California, near San Francisco. In 1957, he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, where he ea

his MFA in painting two years later. De Maria and his friend, the avant-garde composer La Monte, participated in Happenings and theatrical productions in the San Francisco area.

In 1960, De Maria moved to New York, where he wrote essays on art, which were published in 1963 in Young’s An Anthology, and took part in Happenings and multimedia presentations. In 1961, he made his first wooden box sculptures. De Maria and Robert Whitman opened the 9 Great Jones Street gallery in New York in 1963; the same year, De Maria’s first solo show of sculpture was presented there. Also in 1963, he worked as a drummer for the rock group The Velvet Underground. He continued to work in wood, began his “invisible drawings,” and composed music. With the support of collector Robert C. Scull, De Maria started making pieces in metal in 1965. In 1966, he was given a solo show at Cordier & Ekstrom, New York, and participated in Primary Structures at the Jewish Museum in New York.

De Maria emerged as a leader of the Earthworks movement in 1968 when he filled the Galerie Heiner Friedrich in Munich with dirt. This year, he also made hisMile Long Drawing in the Mojave Desert, meant to serve as an early manifestation for his project Mile Long Parallel Walls in the Desert, originally conceived in 1962 to consist of two parallel mile-long walls. In 1968, he also participated in Documenta in Kassel. A major exhibition of De Maria’s sculpture was held at the Kunstmuseum Basel in 1972. Earthworks and serial geometric sculpture continued to occupy De Maria in the 1970s: his Three Continent Project was completed in 1972 and the Lightning Field in New Mexico was finished in 1977. That same year, De Maria again participated in Documenta, this time installing his permanent public sculpture Vertical Earth Kilometer in Friedrichsplatz Park in Kassel. Also in 1977, the artist recreated his Earth Room at the Heiner Friedrich Gallery in New York, which was then permanently reinstalled in 1980.

In 1979, De Maria meticulously arranged five hundred brass rods for The Broken Kilometer, a permanent installation at 393 West Broadway in New York. Similar experiments with geometry and mathematical formulae in metal floor pieces include The Equal Area Series (1976–1990), 360° I-Ching/64 Sculptures (1981),A Computer Which Will Solve Every Problem in the World/3-12 Polygon (1984), and 13, 14, & 15 Meter Rows (1985). For The 2000 Sculpture (1992), exhibited at Kunsthaus Zürich in 1992 and again in 1999, De Maria incorporated polygonal shapes made of solid gesso, rather than his characteristic brass or steel, into his expansive, perfectly ordered installations.

While De Maria is perhaps best known for his Earthworks and installations in the seventies, he has also since been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions organized by Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1981), Museum Boymans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam (1984), Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart (1987), Moderna Museet in Stockholm (1988), Gemäldgalerie in Berlin (1998), Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima (2000 and 2004), and Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City (2007), among others. The artist lives and works in New York.

Allan Kaprow

Description below found at brooklynrail.org

In the late Fifties, the spirit of Dada was revived in Post-World War II American Art. For Allan Kaprow, the artist who led this revival was Jackson Pollock. In a famous article, written in 1956 (the year of Pollock’s death) and published two years later in Art News by the distinguished editor Thomas Hess, Kaprow claimed that Pollock was less important for his paintings as material objects than for the kind of choreographic approach to painting that the artist instigated. This led Kaprow to explore a concept, close to Dada, in which intermedia performances involving groups of participants—which came to be known as “Happenings”—became a new art form. By 1959 Kaprow was exploring a direction in art where idea and process were considered more important than the object. Others, like Jim Dine, Robert Whitman, Claes Oldenburg, and Red Grooms, eventually joined in with their own versions of this phenomenon. In many ways, Kaprow was as much a link between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art as Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, or even the sculptor George Segal.

As the Happenings moved from its association with Neo-Dada in the late Fifties to Fluxus in the early Sixties, it became clear that Kaprow’s idea was also shifting between avant-garde aesthetics on one hand and popular culture on the other. By the late Sixties, his work had indirectly spurred various countercultural phenomena—such as the “be-ins” and “love-ins”—as well as the massive outdoor rock festivals of that era. This kind of popularization was not particularly welcomed by Kaprow, who believed his ideas were being distorted by the commercial media and, at a certain point, refused to allow journalists and press photographers admittance to his events. In retrospect, Kaprow’s Happenings were less “anti-art” than many claimed and were never entirely devoid of aesthetic interest. As much as he tried to integrate the art-and-life paradigm by giving his “activities” in the Seventies a purposefully bland and reductive appearance, Kaprow’s rarefied, somewhat overdetermined aesthetic became even more pronounced. As much as he tried to reduce the formal ingredients by which a Happening could be identified as “art,” its cultural framework somehow managed to remain indelible. Its spontaneous element was always guided by the structure of the piece, regardless of its openness.

Robert Filliou

Description taken from artsbirthday.com
Robert Filliou, a member of Fluxus, the 1960′s performance group that specialized in esthetic nonevents, believed that art didn’t have to express itself in the form of objects. He saw it as a form of play that could even occur as unrealized notions. His minimal-impact works are apt to be made of string, cardboard and wood, the vehicles for stray, vaguely poetic ideas and images. Filliou’s ephemeral works undermine heavy notions of what art is or should be.


Filliou said “I am not just interested in art, but in society of which art is one aspect. I am interested in the world as a whole, a whole of which society is one part. I am interested in the universe, of which the world is only one fragment. I am interested primarily in the Constant Creation of which the universe is only one product.” For him, the work of art was a means of direct action on the world. Filliou attempted to integrate all the acts in life with artistic duty, “without worrying about whether the works are distributed or not”: “When you make , it is art, when you finish, it is non-art, when you exhibit, it is anti-art.”Robert Filliou was part of the Resistance movement organized by the communists and became a member of the French Communist Party during the war; he worked as a labourer for Coca Cola in Los Angeles; achieved a masters in economics; had a dual French-American nationality; while working as a United Nations advisor he was sent to Korea for three years to help write the Constitution and take part in the programmes for economic reconstruction of the country; from there, he travelled in the Far East; he lived in Egypt, Spain and Denmark, where he met Marianne Staffels, the woman with whom he would share his life and his artistic activity. This exceedingly accomplished man and world travellere was not attached to any country and said of nationality ” nationality = poet, profession = French”.In 1960, Robert Filliou designed his first visual work, Le Collage de l’immortelle mort du monde [Collage of the Immortal Death of the World], a transcription of a random theatre play comparable to a chessboard on which all sorts of individual experiences are expressed 3. In 1961, at the Addi Kôcpke gallery (Copenhagen), his first personal exhibition, Suspens Poems, was organized, made up of poems in the form of postal dispatches.In 1962, determined to remain outside the exhibition circuit, Robert Filliou carried his gallery in his hat. He became his own exhibition space: “La Galerie Légitime” [The Legitimate Gallery]. His works, gathered together in his beret and stamped “Galerie Légitime Couvre Chef d’Oeuvre” [Legitimate Gallery Masterpiece Hat], circulated in the streets with him (the idea is reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp’s suitcase). He then met George Maciunas, the centralizer of the activities of Fluxus. “La Galerie Légitime” invited several artists to exhibit in it. This was an art made up of attitudes and gestures, rather than saleable works.

Nancy Holt

Excerpt taken from artwelove.com

A key member of the Land Art movement, Nancy Holt is an artist whose works deal with the memory and perception of time and space. Like other Land Artists, Holt often uses the natural environment as both a medium and a subject for pieces that span a variety of mediums, including film, sculpture and installation. What sets Holt apart is her exploration of the celestial and cosmic, particularly the summer solstice, as well as her interest in land reclamation and re-use.

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a graduate of Tufts University, Holt was influenced by the artists who she knew, including Richard Serra, Michael Heizer, Nancy Graves, and most importantly Robert Smithson, whom she married in 1963 and often worked with as a collaborator until his death in 1973. Like many of her peers, Holt was drawn to the deserts of the American west, where she created such impermanent works as aBuried Poems (1969), a treasure hunt that she arranged for friends. It was in the remote Great Salt Desert of Utah, 50 miles from Smithson’s 1970 Spiral Jetty, that Holt created her most iconic and lasting piece. Called Sun Tunnels, the work–made between 1973 and 1976–consists of four massive concrete pipes aligned in pairs along an axis of the rising and setting sun on a summer or winter solstice. Bored with flute-like holes to let in light, the pipes act as viewing machines for the sky, the surrounding landscape, and each other. They also furnish a cool, shady place to rest for the few visitors to see first-hand. (Like many Land Art pieces, they are intended to be experienced physically but are mostly known solely through photographs.) Holts later work often continued the themes of Sun Tunnels, such as Solar Rotary (1995), a sculptural installation at the University of South Florida that was built in relationship to the position of the sun at certain times of the year.

Holt is also interested in land reclamation, turning an otherwise useless or abandoned area of land into a public space and artwork. Dark Star Park (1984) in Arlington, Virginia, is one such example. Collaborating with an architect, engineers, and real estate developer to turn a former gas station and warehouse into a public park, Holt created a Stonehenge-like setting where every year on August 1st two large spheres in the park’s center cast a shadow that lines up precisely with shadows of surrounding decorative metal poles. The alignment has become a yearly ritual in Arlington and exemplifies the ritualistic nature that many of Holt’s works possess. Another work, Sky Mound (1988-present), transforms a landfill in the New Jersey Meadowlands into an energy generator, as the methane gas produced by the decomposing garbage is harnessed and used. The land has also been reclaimed aesthetically, refashioned into a large earth mound studded with metal poles whose formation correspond to the summer and winter solstices. Explaining her interest in incorporating the ephemeral yet regular nature of a solstice in her art, Holt once explained that her works are “symbolic explorations of the passage of time and our relationship to the larger universe.”

A figure whose early public art works helped to redefine art as something that could grapple with serious environmental issues and effect real change, Holt has created a body of work that has been becoming increasingly influential in the light of growing environmental concerns. Holt lives and works in Galisteo, New Mexico, where she is also the executor of Robert Smithson’s estate.

Betsy Damon

Excerpt taken from Artists website:

Environmental art pioneer, Betsy Damon, creates scale art parks featuring sculptural flow forms and public art events to help clean urban waterways and raise water awareness around the globe. Her nonprofit organization, Keepers of the Waters, provides information and technical support for others  with similar design principles and processes.

“The Living Water Garden”, (1998), is a large-scale, award-winning public park in the center of downtown Chengdu, China. “Polluted river water moves through a natural, and artistic treatment system of ponds, filters and flowforms, making the process of cleaning water visible.” Sculpted black marble and cement flow form pools throughout the park aid in water purification through the rhythmic oscillation of water currents as they pass from one pool to another.

Another project, the da Vinci Water Garden (2003) was a community based collaboration between Urban Water Works and da Vinci Arts Middle School in Portland, OR. Located on an abandoned tennis court, it redirects stormwater from rooftops and a parking lot through an educational and artistic water garden.

“Global water quality is dependent on each community having a sustainable water source that they know about and are responsible for. Cities all over the planet can be filled with vibrant, water and art-filled community centers, parks, schoolyards businesses and backyards that help people become intimately connected to their water sources. These projects will lead the way for fully sustainable water infrastructures, visible and integrated into our everyday lives, rather than hidden under the ground.”

Working internationally in a technical and interdisciplinary field, Betsy Damon brings her skill as an artist and creative problem-solver to help address important urban water quality issues. “When people join together to solve a problem they do better than if they tried to solve it alone. Through water, we are interconnected and related to all other living things. Like water, we are one giant family, always seeking to join one another.”


Mary Miss


The following biography was taken directly from the marymiss.com:

Mary Miss has reshaped the boundaries between sculpture, architecture, landscape design, and installation art by articulating a vision of the public sphere where it is possible for an artist to address the issues of our time.  She has developed the “City as Living Lab”, a framework for making issues of sustainability tangible through collaboration and the arts, with Marda Kirn of EcoArts Connections. Trained as a sculptor, her work creates situations emphasizing a site’s history, its ecology, or aspects of the environment that have gone unnoticed.  Mary Miss has collaborated closely with architects, planners, engineers, ecologists, and public administrators on projects as diverse as creating a temporary memorial around the perimeter of Ground Zero, marking the predicted flood level of Boulder, Colorado, revealing the history of the Union Square Subway station in New York City or turning a sewage treatment plant into a public space. Recent projects include an installation focused on water resources in China for the Olympic Park in Beijing and a temporary installation at a seventeenth-century park in Delhi, India as part of the exhibition 49°: Public Art and Ecology.  A proposal for a permanent project at the North Carolina Museum of Art explores the presence and movement of water through the site by recovering and revitalizing elements of the watershed to reveal the wetland processes in the region.  A recipient of multiple awards, Mary Miss has been the subject of exhibitions at the Harvard University Art Museum, Brown University Gallery, The Institute of Contemporary Art in London, the Architectural Association in London, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and the Des Moines Art Center.  Among others, her work has been included in the exhibitions: Decoys, Complexes and Triggers at the Sculpture Center in New York, Weather Report: Art and Climate Change curated by Lucy Lippard, co-presented by the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and EcoArts Connections, More Than Minimal: Feminism and Abstraction in the 70’s, Brandeis Museum’s Rose Art Museum, and Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis at the Tate Modern.