Michael Craig-Martin

[b. 1941 - Present] View All Work

Michael Craig-Martin, RA (born 1941) is a contemporary conceptual artist and painter. He is noted for his fostering of the Young British Artists, many of whom he taught, and for his conceptual artwork, An Oak Tree. He is Emeritus Professor of Fine Art at Goldsmiths.

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Looking back over his long career, artist Michael Craig-Martin explains why the same ideas drive him today as when he first started out.

In the early 1970s, Michael Craig-Martin created his famous sculpture An Oak Tree. The work consists of a glass of water standing on a shelf. On the wall next to it a text by the artist argues that, despite what your eyes tell you, the glass of water is in fact an oak tree.

In the spirit of Duchamp, Craig-Martin provokes questions about what we understand to be art and unpicks the relationship between a real object and its depiction.

Craig-Martin has lived and worked in London since 1966. From his early box-like constructions of the late 60s, he moved increasingly to the use of ordinary household objects. In the late 70’s he began to make line drawings of ordinary objects, creating over the years an ever-expanding vocabulary of images which form the foundation of his work to this day. In the 1980s, Craig-Martin was a tutor at Goldsmiths College, Department of Art, and was a significant influence on the emerging YBA generation, including Damien Hirst. He was also helpful in promoting the Freeze show to established art-world figures.  During the 1990s the focus of his work shifted decisively to painting, with the same range of boldly outlined motifs and vivid color schemes applied both to works on canvas and to increasingly complex installations of wall paintings. Craig-Martin and his influence were described in an article in the Observer regarding the mentors of British art, entitled Schools of Thought. Craig-Martin has been a trustee of the Tate Gallery and is a trustee of the National Art Collections Fund.

A retrospective of Craig-Martin's work took place at the Whitechapel Gallery in London in 1989. In 2006, the Irish Museum of Modern Art presented "Michael Craig-Martin: Works 1964–2006" which included works from over 40 years of Craig-Martin's career. The exhibition showed around 50 paintings, sculptures, wall drawings, neon works and text pieces by the artist, covering everything from his sculptures to digital works. One of his works called On the Table (1970) involved four metal buckets suspended on a table, exemplifying the influence of Minimalism and Conceptualism on Craig-Martin. An Oak Tree (1973), consisting of "an ordinary glass of water on an equally plain shelf, accompanied by a text in which Craig-Martin asserts the supremacy of the artist's intention over the object itself ... is now widely regarded as a turning point in the development of conceptual art".

Craig-Martin’s work is represented in public collections worldwide, including Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. Permanent large-scale installations are on view at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London and European Investment Bank, Luxembourg.

Wikipedia contributors. "Michael Craig-Martin." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 Jun. 2014. Web. 25 Jun. 2014.