Artist biography

American sculptor and painter. He studied at the California Institute of the Arts (1982) and the Whitney Independent Studies Program, New York (1985). Bickerton emerged in New York in the early 1980s as part of the group of artists termed ‘Neo-Geo', along with Jeff Koons, Peter Halley and Meyer Vaisman. Their work was characterised by a rejection of the neo-expressionist trends in painting and, in Bickerton's case, by the appropriation of images and labels from consumer culture. His use of popular imagery, though most obviously indebted to Pop art, was influenced also by conceptual and Minimal art; because of its critique of consumer society, it has also been termed ‘commodity art'. In the early 1980s Bickerton made paintings on masonite boards that contained single words, such as ‘Susie' and ‘God', in extravagantly ornate lettering as ironic reflections that foreshadowed his later criticisms of American society. These developed into the works for which he became known: wall-mounted black containers, riveted together and covered with corporate logos. For these works Bickerton created his own logos, ‘culture lux' and ‘susie', and the motto, ‘The best in sensory and intellectual experiences'. In the early 1990s his focus moved to the deleterious effects of capitalism (especially in the form of leisure activities) on the natural environment. His decision to leave the USA to settle in Bali was closely related to these concerns. His leitmotif of consumption was also continued in a series of paintings that show the effects of social corruption on the body.

Bibliography
E. Heartney: ‘Ashley Bickerton: Visions Apocalyptiques', A. Press (April, 1991), pp. 30–34
American Art of the 80s (exh. cat., Trent, Mus. A. Mod. & Contemp. Trento & Rovereto, 1992)
Some Went Mad, Some Ran Away (exh. cat., essay R. Shone, London, Serpentine Gal., 1994) [exhibition curated by Damien Hirst]
I. Sandler: Art of the Postmodern Era: From the Late 1960s to the Early 1990s (New York, 1996)

JOHN-PAUL STONARD
10 December 2000

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