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Jasper Johns

Paul Cezanne

David Roland Smith                                          

Yves Klein

Jean Michel Basquait

Jackson Pollack





Alexander CALDER (1898-1976)

Fernandez ARMAN (1928-2005)

Paul Gaugaun

 Diego RIVERA (1886-1957)



In the late 1950’s, Jasper Johns emerged as force in the American art scene. His richly worked paintings of maps, flags, and targets led the artistic community away from Abstract Expressionism toward a new emphasis on the concrete. Johns laid the groundwork for both Pop Art and Minimalism. Today, as his prints and paintings set record prices at auction, the meanings of his paintings, his imagery, and his changing style continue to be subjects of controversy.

Born in Augusta, Georgia, and raised in Allendale, South Carolina, Jasper Johns grew up wanting to be an artist. “In the place where I was a child, there were no artists and there was no art, so I really didn’t know what that meant,” recounts Johns. “I think I thought it meant that I would be in a situation different from the one that I was in.” He studied briefly at the University of South Carolina before moving to New York in the early fifties.

In New York, Johns met a number of other artists including the composer John Cage, the choreographer Merce Cunningham, and the painter Robert Rauschenberg. While working together creating window displays for Tiffany’s, Johns and Raushenberg explored the New York art scene. After a visit to Philadelphia to see Marcel Duchamp’s painting, The Large Glass (1915-23), Johns became very interested in his work. Duchamp had revolutionized the art world with his “readymades” — a series of found objects presented as finished works of art. This irreverence for the fixed attitudes toward what could be considered art was a substantial influence on Johns. Some time later, with Merce Cunningham, he created a performance based on the piece, entitled “Walkaround Time.”






Paul Cézanne's modern style and technique was avant-garde and therefore misunderstood for many years. Even the other breakthrough artists of his era, the Impressionists, were dismissive of Cézanne's progressive style and method. After the first Impressionist exhibition many of them petitioned to have him banned from the other shows because Cézanne's compositions were too controversial.

Cézanne worked with thickly placed layers of paint and undefined forms and attempted to simplify everything into shapes that could be broken down. Although he was close with the Impressionist Camille Pissarro, and influenced by Pissarro's en plein air style of painting Cézanne was not an Impressionist. He was a highly modern artist who did not fit into any one category of painting style. His style was a precursor for the fauvism and cubism movements.





David Roland Smith was born on March 9, 1906 in Decatur, Indiana and moved to Paulding, Ohio in 1921, where he attended high school. From 1924-25, he attended Ohio University in Athens (one year) and the University of Notre Dame, which he left after two weeks because there were no art courses. In between, Smith took a summer job working on the assembly line of an automobile factory.

Moving to New York in 1926, he met Dorothy Dehner (to whom he was married from 1927 to 1952) and joined her painting studies at the Art Students League of New York. Among his teachers were the American painter John Sloan and the Czech modernist painter Jan Matulka, who had studied with Hans Hofmann. Matulka introduced Smith to the work of Picasso, Mondrian, Kandinsky, and the Russian Constructivists.

Through the Russian émigré artist John Graham, Smith met avant-garde artists such as Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning. He also discovered the welded sculptures of Julio González and Picasso, which led to an increasing interest in combining painting and construction. In 1932, he installed a forge and anvil in his studio at the farm in Bolton Landing that he and Dehner had bought a few years earlier. Smith started by making three-dimensional objects from wood, wire, coral, soldered metal and other found materials but soon graduated to using an oxyacetylene torch to weld metal heads, which are probably the first welded metal sculptures ever made in the United States.





Yves Klein was the most influential, prominent, and controversial French artist to emerge in the 1950s. He is remembered above all for his use of a single color, the rich shade of ultramarine that he made his own: International Klein Blue. But the success of his sadly short-lived career lay in attacking many of the ideas that underpinned the abstract painting that had been dominant in France since the end of the Second World War. For some critics he is a descendent of Marcel Duchamp, a prankster who lampooned settled understandings of painting and opened art up to new media. Others consider him as a descendant of earlier avant-garde artists such as Kazimir Malevich and Aleksander Rodchenko, who were also attracted to the monochrome. And even in the ways he used performance later on in his career, he is like many artists who rediscovered some of the tactics of earlier avant-gardes in the 1950s and '60s. Klein might also be compared to his contemporary Joseph Beuys, for, like Beuys, he embraced aspects of Romanticism and mysticism - Klein was intrigued by Eastern religion and Rosicrucianism, and was even influenced by judo. Also like Beuys, many have condemned him as an obscurantist and a charlatan: yet the brevity, wit, and seductive beauty of much of his work continues to inspire.



Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was an American artist. He began as an obscure graffiti artist in New York City in the late 1970s and evolved into an acclaimed Neo-expressionist and Primitivist painter by the 1980s.

Throughout his career Basquiat focused on "suggestive dichotomies," such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience.Basquiat's art utilized a synergy of appropriation, poetry, drawing and painting, which married text and image, abstraction and figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique. Utilizing social commentary as a "springboard to deeper truths about the individual",Basquiat's paintings also attacked power structures and systems of racism, while his poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle.




Born on January 28, 1912, in Cody, Wyoming, artist Jackson Pollock studied under Thomas  before leaving traditional techniques to explore abstraction expressionism via his splatter and action pieces, which involved pouring paint and other media directly onto canvases. Pollock was both renowned and critiqued for his conventions. He died after driving drunk and crashing into a tree in New York in 1956, at age 44.








Keith arrived in New York in 1978 as a scholarship student at the School of Visual Arts. All at once, he began to experience a multicultural urban community with its own expressive vocabulary; a lively environment in which to explore his gay identity; and a peer group, at the School of Visual Arts and in the vibrantly experimental East Village, as energetic and uninhibited as Keith himself.


Untitled, 1980, Collage

He was particularly inspired by the beauty and spontaneity of the graffiti he saw in the subways. Graffiti spoke of a world that was hip and streetwise, creative and spontaneous and underground–all that he admired and wanted to be. At the same time, he admired the technical mastery and calligraphic quality of the graffiti artists’ ‘tags.’

His classes at SVA (with teachers such as Keith Sonnier, Joseph Kosuth, Barbara Buchner, and others) provided Keith with an important critical framework for his emerging style. He began to work obsessively, hanging his drawings in the hallways of the school for everyone to see. He created videotapes and performance pieces, and he also began doing a lot of writing. These experiments were part of his search for a unique style of visual communication.






Hungarian-born Victor Vasarely is known as a founder of optical art. Vasarely was born in Pecs and grew up in Pieš?any (then Pöstyén) and Budapest where in 1925 he took up medical studies at Budapest University. In 1927 he abandoned medicine to learn traditional academic painting at the private Podolini-Volkmann Academy. In 1928/1929, he enrolled at Sándor Bortnyik's M?hely (lit. "workshop", in existence until 1938), then widely recognized as the center of Bauhaus studies in Budapest. Cash-strapped, the m?hely could not offer the whole range of its illustrious Bauhaus model, and concentrated on applied graphic art and typographic design




Tom Wesselmann was born in Cincinnati / Ohio on 23 February 1931. Between 1945 and 1951 he studied at the Hiram College in Ohio before studying psychology at Cincinnati university. One year later he was called up for military service due to the Korea war. Being discontented with his situation he began to draw cartoons at that time.
In 1954 he resumed his studies and apart from this he attended the art academy. He moved to New York and attends Cooper Union School for Arts and Architecture in 1956. He earned his living by working as a cartoonist for several journals and magazines as well as by teaching at a highschool in Brooklyn. At the end of the fifties a series of collages in small format were created being regarded as precursors of the later series "Great American Nudes" and "Still life" in big format.
Out of these collages he developed first nude depictions in 1960.






Born in Belarus in 1887, Marc Chagall was a French painter, printmaker, and designer associated with several major artistic styles, synthesizing elements of Cubism, Symbolism and Fauvism. One work in particular, I and the Village (1911), pre-dated Surrealism as an artistic expression of psychic reality. An early modernist, Chagall created works in nearly every artistic medium, including sets for plays and ballets, biblical etchings, and stained-glass windows. Chagall died in France in 1985. Today,

he is widely regarded as one of the most successful artists of the 20th century.

Early Years

Marc Chagall was born on July 7, 1887, in Vitebsk, Belarus (in the Russian Empire), and was raised in a devoutly Jewish environment with eight other siblings. His father worked in a fish warehouse, and his mother ran a shop where she sold fish and sundry baking supplies. As a child, Chagall attended heder (Jewish elementary school) and later went to public school, where lessons were taught in Russian.

After learning the elements of drawing at school, from 1907 to 1910, Chagall studied painting in St. Petersburg at the Imperial Society for the Protection of the Arts, eventually under stage designer Léon Bakst. A characteristic work from this early period is "The Dead Man" (1908), a painting that depicts a violinist (a recurring image for the artist) amid a nightmarish rooftop scen



Fernandez ARMAN (1928-2005)

ARMAN BIOGRAPHY (1928 - 2005)

specialize very much in… everything,” the French-born American artist Arman told an interviewer in 1968. “I have never been — how do you say it? A dilettante.” Regarded as one of the most prolific and inventive creators of the late 20th century, Arman’s vast artistic output ranges from drawings and prints to monumental public sculpture to his famous “accumulations” of found objects. His work—strongly influenced by Dada, and in turn a strong influence on Pop Art—is in the collections of such institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Born in Nice in 1928, Armand Pierre Fernandez showed a precocious talent for painting and drawing as a child. (Inspired by Vincent van Gogh, he signed his early work with his first name only; he retained a printer’s 1958 misspelling of his name for the rest of his career.) The son of an antiques dealer and amateur cellist, the artist absorbed an intense appreciation for music, the art of collecting and the cultivation of discriminating taste from an early age. After studies at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Nice, Arman decamped to Paris to study art history at the Ecole du Louvre. His work in these early years focused on abstract paintings inspired by the work of Nicolas de Staël. An avid reader, Arman sought inspiration through books and art reviews, as well as during frequent road trips throughout Europe with his artist friends from Nice, Claude Pascale and Yves Klein. During this period, Arman developed a passion for Eastern philosophy, early Chinese art and the martial art of judo, even working as an instructor at the Bushido Kai judo school in Spain. Additionally, he served two years as an orderly in the French military in Indochina.

Inspired by the Dadaist collages of Kurt Schwitters, Arman’s first solo show, in Paris in 1954, exhibited his “Cachets,” assemblages and accumulations of stamps and fabric that were to prove an important step in the development of his artistic vision. More consequential yet was his signing, in 1960, of the manifesto of the “Nouveau Réalisme” (New Realism) movement, with fellow artists Klein, Martial Raysse and Jean Tinguely, among others. “New Realism equals new, sensitive, perceptive approaches to the real,” asserted the document, and Arman set out on a new course, in which he would re-examine the artistic possibilities of everyday objects, elevating the banal to the aesthetic, and refuse into art.


Alexander CALDER (1898-1976)

Alexander Calder, internationally famous by his mid-30s, is renowned for developing a new idiom in modern art-the mobile.

His works in this mode, from miniature to monumental, are called mobiles (suspended moving sculptures), standing mobiles (anchored moving sculptures) and stabiles (stationary constructions).  Calder's abstract works are characteristically direct, spare, buoyant, colorful and finely crafted. He made ingenious, frequently witty, use of natural and manmade materials, including wire, sheetmetal, wood and bronze.

Calder was born in 1898 in Philadelphia, the son of Alexander Stirling Calder and grandson of Alexander Milne Calder, both well-known sculptors.  After obtaining his mechanical engineering degree from the Stevens Institute of Technology, Calder worked at various jobs before enrolling at the Art Students League in New York City in 1923. During his student years, he did line drawings for the National Police Gazette.  
In 1925, Calder published his first book, Animal Sketches, illustrated in brush and ink. He produced oil paintings of city scenes, in a loose and easy style. Early in 1926, he began to carve primitivist figures in tropical woods, which remained an important medium in his work until 1930.



Paul GAUGUIN (1848-1903)

rench post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin was an important figure in the Symbolist art movement of the early 1900s. His use of bold colors, exaggerated body proportions and stark contrasts in his paintings set him apart from his contemporaries, helping to pave the way for the Primitivism art movement. Gauguin often sought exotic environments, and spent time living and painting in Tahiti.


"Art is either plagiarism or revolution."

– Paul Gauguin « prev1 / 3next »


Early Life

Famed French artist Paul Gauguin, born in Paris on June 7, 1848, created his own unique painting style, much like he crafted his own distinctive path through life. Known for bold colors, simplified forms and strong lines, he didn't have any art formal training. Gauguin instead followed his own vision, abandoning both his family and artistic conventions.

Gauguin was born in Paris, but his family moved to Peru when he was a young child. His journalist father died on the journey to South America. Eventually returning to France, Gauguin took to the seas as a merchant marine. He was also in the French Navy for a time, and then worked as a stockbroker. In 1873, he married a Danish woman named Mette Gad. The couple eventually had five children together.


Diego RIVERA (1886-1957)


By 1917, River had begun to turn away from Cubism, and by 1918 his rejection of Cubist style, if not all the tenets of Cubism, was complete. The reasons for this rejection have not been completely determined, but certainly the inspiration of the Russian Revolution and the general return to realism among European artist were factors that contributed. In 1920, Rivera went to Italy. There, in the murals of the Italian partners of the quattrocento, he found the inspiration for a new and revolutionary public art capable of furthering the ideals of the ongoing revolution in his native land.

Rivera returned to Mexico in 1921 and soon became one of a number of Mexican and foreign artists who received commissions for murals in public buildings from the new government. By 1923, the completion of the first of his monumental series at the Secretaria de Educacion Publica and his assumption of control over the decoration of the entire building had established his preeminence in the movement now known as the Mexican Mural Renaissance.

In his work at the Secretaria, which would occupy him for another four years, and in the chapel at the former Escuela de Agricultura at Chapingo, Rivera brought to full development his classical figure style and his epic approach to historical painting, which focused on subjects that promoted revolutionary ideas and celebrated the indigenous cultural heritage of Mexico.

In the period following World War I, the literary, artistic, and intellectual vitalityof post-revolutionary Mexico, in which the mural movement played an integral role, created a cultural "mecca" that drew young artists from the United States, Europe, and Latin America. As a result, by the late 1920s, Rivera's murals, and those of Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, were well known in the United States. In the early 1930s, Rivera became on of the most sought-after artists in this country. In addition to numerous commissions for easel paintings, his received commissions for three murals in San Francisco and was given a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Also, his costume and set designs were used in the ballet H. P. (horsepower), which premiered in Philadelphia; he decorated the central court of Detroit Institute of Arts; he was invited by General Motors to create murals at the Chicago World's Fair; and he painted murals at Rockefeller Center and the New Workers School in New York.

Rivera's sojourns in the United States were pivotal to his work. For the first time in his career as a muralist, he was separated from the rich cultural history upon which he drew for his subjects and was under no compulsion to confine himself to themes in promotion of Mexican nationalist ideals. He was also able, at least temporarily, to escape from the turmoil of his precarious political position in Mexico, where the Mexican Communist Party, of which he had been a member between 1922 and 1929, disapproved of his growing ties to Mexico's government. Finally, he was at last able to indulge his deep fascination with technology, which was evident in a highly developed from in the industrial society of the United States.





The statue is a 1993 self-portrait of the Italian artist Alighiero Boetti, who died a year after it was made and who seems to have lived his life in a kind of fever delirium of ideas, many of which thread through “Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan,” a magical survey of his art. Part of it is on view in the museum’s atrium, with the rest to open on the sixth floor on Sunday.

Boetti was born in 1940 in Turin, the Motor City of Italy and the home of Fiat. He came of age creatively in the 1960s. Influenced by Duchamp, by industrial culture and by a natural attraction to the intricacies of language and arcane systems of logic, he made work that at first was low on formal allure and packed tight with conceptual content.

Certainly the first objects you see on MoMA’s sixth floor are far from prepossessing: sheets of printed graph paper; a ziggurat-shaped column of rolled commercial cardboard; a seemingly half-finished piece of embroidery; a picture postcard of two look-alike men holding hands; a light bulb in a box.