Zhang Huan – My New York, 2002, Whitney Biennial, New York
Zhang Huan (张洹) is one of China’s best known conceptual and performance artists. In his sculptures and paintings he references the history of his home country. As such, his pieces contain components of political, religious and intellectual messages as well as anonymous portraits and landscapes scenes. Most of his works have mainly been used to promote Chinese culture and to spread a message with the intention of sanitizing the city. In particular, the issue of toilets is very dear to him and it has helped him create one of his most famous performance pieces.
Cai Guo-Qiang – Head On, 2006, 99 life-sized replicas of wolves and glass wall
Berlin, Singapore, New York, Bilbao, and Brisbane are just a few of the locations in the world that have had the pleasure of experiencing Cai Guo-Qiang’s Head On (2006). For his dramatic and impressive installation, Cai who resides in New York chose to fit 99 life-like stuffed wolves into a glass wall. The stuffed wolves appeared to push towards a transparent wall relentlessly crashing with full force against the glass barrier.
Sol LeWitt is an iconic artist who is regarded as a founder of both Minimal and Conceptual art. He believed that the figures that the mind can think of are possible to make and construct. To start his structural design making and abstract design actualization, he used the square as the reference figure where all the other figures were derived from it. His serial approach in making figures, using the square as the denominator structure, led him to advance further and make geometrical figures like triangles, circles and other figures using wood. In his five-decade career, he insisted that ideas were the backbone of his efficiency and art clarity.
Richard Serra has undeniably consolidated his career in contemporary art through his many controversial works including his now well known installation One Top Prop. Most Richard Serra exhibitions have elicited debates and discussions. In some cases, some audiences have even sustained injuries and there have even been some incidences of death recorded.
For instance, in November 1971, Richard Serra’s One Ton Prop turned deadly suddenly when a rigger known as Raymond Johnson was trapped after one of the plates from the sculptor slipped from its frail support and fell. Unfortunately, Raymond passed away but his wife later filed a lawsuit against the artist and the museum. In the end, Richard Serra was exonerated; it was the fabricators of the steel plates that were found negligent after constructing the plates shoddily.
In 1980, President Reagan was elected president and Joel Sternfeld had embarked on a road trip across America that would allow him to capture life in America as it was in the 1980s. Having been awarded the Guggenheim grant two years earlier in 1978, Joel’s American Prospects was later to become one of the most revolutionary color photographs of the time, when professional photographers only used the black and white format for official or serious pictures. His photographs from the American Prospects series helped to usher in a new breed of modern photographers, which is why Sternfeld has always been characterized as one of the most influential photographer of his generation.
Serra Pelada refers to a series of photographs that were taken in 1986 depicting endless numbers of mine workers distributed on various parts of a tall gold mining cliff. The black and white photos were taken from a distance and at an elevated vantage point by photographer Sebastiao Salgado. Because of the location and the angle in which the photos were taken, the subjects look like dots as only their general forms are noticeable. The photograph captures gold grabbers and miners pouring from the side of Brazil’s then largest and most dangerous mine known as Serra Pelada.
Sebastião Ribeiro Salgado Júnior is a Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist that has built a successful photography career that has seen his work published in numerous books and publications. As a photojournalist, Salgado seeks to photograph the most unsettling images of human life on earth, exposing things that appear almost unrealistic and improbable such as the Serra Pelada gold mine.