A principal figure of British conceptual art, Michael Craig-Martin probes the relationship between objects and images, harnessing the human capacity to imagine absent forms through symbols and pictures. The perceptual tension between object, representation, and language has been his central concern over the past four decades. In his early work Craig-Martin often incorporated readymades into sculpture and made knowing reference to American Minimalism. His elegant restraint and conceptual clarity is exemplified by An Oak Tree (1973), comprising a glass of water on a shelf and a text written by him asserting that the glass of water is, in fact, an oak tree. This interest in semantics, the play between rhetoric and object, continues to be a core theme in his work. In the 1990s Craig-Martin made a decisive shift to painting and developed his hallmark style of precise, bold outlines demarcating flat planes of intensely vibrant colors. Through exacting draftsmanship, he uses composition to explore spatial relationships by juxtaposing and layering color.
Craig-Martin was born in 1941 in Dublin. He attended Fordham University, New York, from 1959 to 1961, then Yale University, where he received a BA in 1963 and an MFA in 1966. In the mid-1960s he returned to Europe, becoming one of the key figures in the first generation of British conceptual artists. Craig-Martin taught at Goldsmiths College School of Art, London, from 1974 to 1988 and from 1994 to 2000. During this time he became a powerful influence on a generation of his students who would become known as the Young British Artists, including Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas, and Damien Hirst, among others. Craig-Martin’s work has been featured in solo museum exhibitions worldwide, including Always Now, Kunstverein Hannover, Germany (1998); Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Spain (2000); Living, Museu de Arte Moderna–Colecção Berardo, Sintra, Portugal (2001); Arp Museum, Remagen, Germany (2005); Le Magasin–Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble, France (2006); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2006–07); Signs of Life, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2006); New Art Centre, Roche Court, England (2006, 2011); Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas (2010, 2015); Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, England (2012); Less Is Still More, Museum Haus Esters, Krefeld, Germany (2013); Chatsworth House, England (2014); and NOW, Shanghai Himalayas Museum (2015, traveled to Hubei Museum of Art, Wuhan, China). Craig-Martin’s work is featured in various public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. Craig-Martin was an artist trustee of Tate from 1989 to 1999, and was elected to the Royal Academy in 2006. In 2016 he was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to art.
Craig-Martin lives and works in London.
September 16–27, 2014
Davies Street, London
June 12–August 16, 2014
September 24–December 17, 2010
A is for Umbrella
December 1, 2007–January 26, 2008
Britannia Street, London
Eye of the Storm
January 16–February 15, 2003
West 24th Street, New York
From the Quarterly
Fairs, Events & Announcements
April 28–29, 2018, booth B8
Grimaldi Forum, Monaco
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Artmonte-Carlo 2018, presenting a selection of works by artists including Richard Artschwager, Davide Balula, Glenn Brown, Michael Craig-Martin, Edmund de Waal, Damien Hirst, Peter Lindbergh, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Sterling Ruby, and Taryn Simon. To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at email@example.com. To preview our booth go to www.artsy.net. To purchase tickets to attend the fair go to www.artmontecarlo.ch.
Sterling Ruby, Heart (6634), 2018 © Sterling Ruby Studio. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer
CityPlace, West Palm Beach, Florida
Michael Craig-Martin has transformed the exterior of a former Macy’s with his largest mural to date, Palm Beach Parade. The retailer abandoned the site earlier this year, and this project aims to transform the struggling shopping center in which the store was situated by putting culture at the forefront.
Michael Craig-Martin, Palm Beach Parade, 2017 © Michael Craig-Martin
Michael Craig-Martin has created the site-specific work Lexicon (2017) for Bloomberg’s new European headquarters in London. Comprised of twelve parts on three floors of the building, this permanent installation takes everyday objects and enlarges them to a monumental scale.
Michael Craig-Martin, Lexicon, 2017 (detail). Photo: James Newton
The Classical Now
March 2–April 28, 2018
King’s College, London
The Classical Now pairs the work of modern and contemporary artists with classical Greek and Roman antiquities. The exhibition traces the ways in which Greco-Roman art has captured and permeated modern imagination, while exploring the myriad continuities and contrasts between the ancient, modern, and contemporary, revealing the “classical” as a living and fluid tradition. Work by Michael Craig-Martin, Damien Hirst, Alex Israel, Yves Klein, Roy Lichtenstein, Henry Moore, Bruce Nauman, Pablo Picasso, and Rachel Whiteread is included.
Roy Lichtenstein, Temple, 1964 © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein
Michael Craig-Martin in
Folkestone Triennial 2017
September 2–November 5, 2017
This exhibition invites artists to engage with the rich cultural history of Folkestone and to exhibit newly commissioned work in public spaces around the town. A new commissioned work by Michael Craig-Martin is included.
Michael Craig-Martin, Folkestone Lightbulb, 2017. Commissioned by the Creative Foundation for Folkestone Triennial 2017. Photo by Thierry Bal
July 29–November 5, 2017
The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, England
The familiar tulip becomes unfamiliar as its role in history chronicles a greater play. This exhibition brings together works by thirty artists to explore the relationship between Europe and the Middle East. It is a story about migration and about how much is owed to the
East—a land steeped in culture, mathematics, science, and philosophy. This is also a romantic story set
in seventeenth-century Europe,
a fable about social inequality and extravagance. Work by Michael Craig-Martin and Damien Hirst is included.
Michael Craig-Martin, Tulips (after Mapplethorpe), 2016