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Michael Craig-Martin

Born: 1941. Nationality: Irish.

Michael Craig-Martin was born in Dublin though the family home was in London; in 1945 they moved to America when his father took up a post in Washington. Craig-Martin’s art education took place at institutions in a number of different places, including Washington, Bogotá, New York, Paris and, most significantly, at Yale University. Here he was strongly influenced by the theories on form and colour of Josef Albers, a former head of department there; he was later to say “everything I know about colour comes from that course”.

Back in London, Craig-Martin developed a minimalist aesthetic making use of ready-made items and images and blurring the boundaries between painting, sculpture and time-based media (film and video). An early celebrated work was ‘An Oak Tree’ which consisted of a glass of water standing on a shelf mounted high on the gallery wall; it was accompanied by a text which set out an argument for its designation as an oak tree.

He became a tutor at Goldsmith’s College of Art where he was to be a powerful influence on generations of students, most notably the group known as the YBAs (Young British Artists) who came to prominence in the late 1980s.

Characteristic paintings, prints and wall installations by Craig-Martin use a stylised drawing technique in which black outlines of uniform width encompass areas of strong, undifferentiated colour; they typically depict arrangements of everyday objects or make art historical references. His work has been extensively shown in major galleries and is included many important collections in this country and abroad. His first retrospective was held at the Whitechapel Gallery in London in 1989, another was mounted in Dublin in 2006.

 

Deconstructing Seurat (turquoise green)
Deconstructing Seurat (turquoise green) 2