Artist biography

Irish sculptor and painter, active in England. He moved to the USA with his family in 1945 and studied painting at Yale University, CT (1961–3; 1964–6).

In 1966 Craig-Martin moved to England to teach, and he eventually taught from 1973 at Goldsmiths College in London, where he remained a powerful influence on students through the 1980s and 1990s. His early work made deliberate reference to the American artists he most admired, such as Donald Judd, Jasper Johns and Robert Morris. Although he was particularly affected by Minimalism and used ordinary household materials in his sculptures, he played against the logic of his sources; in Four Identical Boxes with Lids Reversed (painted blockboard, 1969; London, Tate), for example, he created a curious progression by slicing into four identical boxes at different angles and then exchanging their halves.

Craig-Martin continued working in various forms, always maintaining an elegant restraint and conceptual clarity. During the 1990s the focus of his work shifted decisively to painting, with the same range of boldly outlined motifs and luridly vivid colour schemes in unexpected (and at times apparently arbitrary) combinations applied both to works on canvas, such as Knowing (1996; London, Tate) and to increasingly complex installations of wall paintings. For his one-man exhibition at the Kunstverein Hannover in 1998, Craig-Martin transformed the galleries into a series of environments of luscious colour, onto which he painted his characteristic motifs of tables, chairs and stepladders and also hung paintings, reliefs and wall-mounted sculptures.

Michael Craig-Martin: Prints (exh. cat., essay by R. Shone, London, Alan Cristea Gal., 1997)
Michael Craig-Martin: Always Now (exh. cat., ed. E. Schneider; Hannover, Kstver., 1998)
Michael Craig-Martin: And Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar (exh. cat., ed. M. Hentschel; Stuttgart, Württemberg. Kstver., 1999)

10 December 2001

Article provided by Grove Art Online