The artist Mike Kelley (American, 1954-2012) was regarded as one of the most influential members of the Contemporary Conceptual Art movement. His multimedia work, ranging from performance and installation to painting and photography, features souvenirs of popular culture, such as stuffed animals or crocheted couch throws, evoking an atmosphere of the uncanny. In his Postmodern world, the high and low are combined in philosophical investigations of contemporary society, joined with a 1950s comic book style creating absurd, sometimes humorous portrayals of the American middle class and its conceptions of the normative. Kelley studied at the University of Michigan and at the California Institute of the Arts, and was influenced by 1960s Conceptual artists. In the early 1970s, he formed his own rock band, and staged performances including photographs, objects, and drawings. In the mid-1980s, Kelley continued using found objects in his installations and focused on psychological issues in his work, treating topics such as abuse and repression as the traumatic remains of a dysfunctional society. Themes of biography and autobiography became increasingly important in his work in the 1990s. Kelley participated in the Documenta 9 and 10 art fairs in Kassel, Germany, and has held solo shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Tate Liverpool, and at the Louvre in Paris. Kelley has also received attention for his work as an art and music critic, and as a curator of numerous exhibitions.
Pansy Metal/Clovered Hoof, 1989, silkscreen on silk, 133.4 x 95.2 cm.
Yellow Banana 2, 1991, acrylic on paper, 100.3 cm x 81.3 cm.
Images and text: http://www.artnet.com/artists/mike-kelley/
Michael Dweck (American, b.September 26, 1957) is a photographer best known for his photography that uses erotic and suggestive imagery. Though he was born in Brooklyn, NY, he moved to Long Island with his family when he was just three years old. After graduating from the John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, NY, he entered the Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, as an Architecture major. The following year, Dweck changed his major to Fine Arts and Communications. He graduated from the school with a BFA in 1979. Three years after graduating, the photographer opened Michael Dweck & Campbell. In 1985, Dweck attended The New School for Social Research where he studied under Marshall Blonsky, a famous semiotician.
The photographer spent much of the 1990s focusing on advertising work; he opened the company Dweck & Campbell in 1992 before changing the name to Dweck! in 1999. He won several awards for his advertising work, including the Gold Lion at the Cannes International Festival, Agency of the Year from the American Association of Advertising Agencies, and the AICP Award for Advertising Excellence.
Though Dweck enjoyed his work in advertising, he closed his business in 2002 to give himself time for photography. His first exhibit came that same year, and he turned that exhibit, The End: Montauk, NY, into a book. During the initial run of the book, it was so popular that the publisher ran out of copies. The following year, Sotheby’s New York ran an exhibit of that work, making it the first time the auction house devoted a show to a living person. One of Dweck’s more famous projects is the series Mermaids, which he started working on in 2006. The series showed female models underwater in mermaid poses. Ditch Plains Press compiled the photographs from the series and released the images as the book Mermaids Collector’s Edition. Dweck’s work has been displayed at the Staley Wise Gallery in New York, NY, the Gallery Orchard in Nagoya, Japan, and the Fototeca de Cuba Museum in Havana, Cuba. Dweck lives and works in New York City and Montauk, NY
Elisaveta 1, New York, New York, 2005, Silver gelatin print, (ed. 30), 40.6 x 50.8 cm
Untitled, (further details unavailable).
Text and images: http://www.artnet.com/artists/michael-dweck/
Peter Beard (American, b.1938) is a photographer and writer known for his collage-work and extensive diaries. While moving around between Long Island, New York City, and Alabama during his childhood, Beard began the habit of keeping diaries that later became source material for many of his collage works. Beard documented his travels and photographs within his diaries from the age of 12, shortly before his first trip to Africa in 1955. In 1957, Beard applied as a pre-med student to Yale before switching to art history, studying under the influential art historian and theoretician, Joseph Albers (1888–1976). After graduating, Beard returned to Kenya where he made his home in East Africa, acquiring “Hog Ranch,” the property adjacent to Karen Blixen’s, near the Ngong Hills.
In the early 1960s he worked at Tsavo National Park where he photographed and documented the demise of elephants and Black Rhinos, and published multiple books on the subject. During this period he began to create photographic collages that explored the interconnectedness of humans and animals. In addition to his own work, Beard has befriended and collaborated with many artists, including Andy Warhol (1928–1987), Andrew Wyeth (1917–2009), Richard Lindner, Terry Southern, Truman Capote, and Francis Bacon (1909–1992). In addition to his collaborations with well-known artists, he photographed prominent politicians, supermodels, rock stars, and New York City celebrities during the 1970s and 1980s. After his art exhibition in 1975 at the Blum Helman Gallery, Beard continued to show his work throughout galleries in Paris, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, and cities throughout Africa.
Lion pride, southern Serengeti, for the end of the game/Last word from paradise, 1976-2000, Platinum Print on Arches Paper, 40 x 59.7 cm.
MRI, Self-Portrait for Centre National de la Photographie, 1997, mixed media,186.7 x 118.9 cm.
Images and text: http://www.artnet.com/artists/peter-beard/
Keith Haring (American, 1958–1990), Neo-Pop and Graffiti artist, had a short but prolific career centered on a vision to unite “high art,” urban aesthetics, and public spaces, in humorous, irreverent, and poignant works. Born in Pennsylvania, Haring attended the Ivy School of Art in Pittsburgh for two years, planning to become a commercial artist. He found this path unsatisfying, and instead chose to study at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where he met fellow artists Jean Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf. Haring immersed himself in the culture of the city’s streets and clubs, and in 1980 began covering the blank billboards on subway station walls with his Subway drawings in chalk.
Haring’s bold public art attracted the attention of top galleries, and by the early 1980s he was painting Neo-Pop works and large murals for children. In an effort to make his art widely accessible, Haring opened the Pop Shop in 1986 in downtown New York, selling commercial items adorned with his art. Haring combined cartoon imagery with graffiti, hip-hop, and urban aesthetics, frequently depicting animals, figures, commercial icons, sexual imagery, and childlike motifs in pieces both playful and apprehensive. His work became increasingly anxious and angry following his 1987 diagnosis with AIDS. Haring resolved to work harder than ever in his remaining years, creating pieces with a fervent speed and devoting his art to social action in addition to personal expression. In 1989 he established the Keith Haring Foundation, meant to promote art programs and public spaces for children and to raise consciousness about AIDs. He died in February 1990. In addition to hundreds of exhibitions held during his lifetime, Haring has had numerous retrospectives in New York, San Francisco, Paris, Tokyo, and Berlin since he passed away.
Growing, 1988. Screen print, 101.6 x 76.2 cm
Poster, Keith Haring, Fun Gallery, 1983. Poster, 61 x 44.4 cm
Images and text: http://www.artnet.com/artists/keith-haring/
Photographer Annie Leibovitz (American, b.1949) is best known for her engaging portraits—particularly of celebrities—which often feature subjects in intimate settings and poses. Leibovitz took painting classes at the San Francisco Art Institute as an undergraduate, but found herself deeply attracted to photography after taking pictures on a family vacation. She switched her studies to photography, and began working on commission for Rolling Stone while still in school in the early 1970s, when the magazine was in its first years of publication. At age 23, Leibovitz became the chief photographer of the magazine; over the next 10 years, she photographed figures such as Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, and a particularly famous photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, just hours before Lennon was killed in 1980.
In 1983, Leibovitz became a photographer for Vanity Fair, and encouraged many other celebrity subjects to choose poses revealing the intimate, playful, and expressive aspects of their personalities; portraits included celebrities in the nude, in stunning gowns, covered in paint, and in tanks of water or baths of milk, often with dramatic lighting.
Her photographs have been published in several books, and have been used in many ad campaigns. Her work was the subject of a major exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.; she was the first woman to receive a solo exhibition at the museum. Leibovitz currently lives and works in New York.
Steve Martin, Beverly Hills, California, 1981. Archival pigment print, 101.6 x 101.6 cm.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono, The Dakota, NY, December 8, 1980, 1996. Off-set lithograph on card stock, 11.2 x 15 cm
Images and text: http://www.artnet.com/artists/annie-leibovitz/