Thursday, April 1, 2010
Artist - Michael Craig-Martin
Michael Craig-Martin was born to Irish parents, Paul and Rhona, both devout Catholics, who lived in London. In 1945, the family moved to Washington D.C. In the U.S. he was given a religious education, initially for eight years in a Roman Catholic school run by nuns, and then in the English Benedictine Priory School, where pupils were encouraged to look at religious imagery in illuminated glass panels and stained-glass windows. He gained an interest in art through one of the priests, who was an artist, and was also strongly impressed by a display in the Phillips Collection of work by Mark Rothko.
Craig-Martin studied in the Lycée Français in Bogotá, Colombia, where his father had employment for a while. Drawing classes in the Lycée by an artist, Antonio Roda, gave him a wider perspective on art. Back in Washington, he attended drawing classes given there by artists, then in 1959 attended Fordham University in New York for English Literature and History.
In 1974, he exhibited the piece "An Oak Tree". The work consists of a glass of water standing on a shelf attached to the gallery wall next to which is a text using an argument to explain why it is in fact an oak tree. Nevertheless, on one occasion when it was barred by Australian Customs officials from entering the country as vegetation, he was forced to explain it was really a glass of water... ha ha, funny! The work was bought by the National Gallery of Australia in 1977.