Michael Craig-Martin - Photography courtesy and copyright Caroline True

Michael Craig-Martin

Ireland 1941

Conceptual Art


Michael Craig-Martin
Michael Craig-Martin
August 25, 2013
Nina Karaicic is a journalist with experience in TV and radio media. Born in 1989, she had studied at the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Political Sciences (Journalism). Interests: Photography, Art, Film, Folklore, Video Games

It is not hard to say that the work of Michael Craig-Martin is iconic and he is without any doubt among the world’s most influential artists. Throughout his dense and rather prolific conceptual art practice several decades long, the artist was and still is triggered by a constant task of articulating the always intense relationship between objects and images. Governed by the general interest in how we perceive certain forms through symbols and peculiar motifs, Craig-Martin is questioning various mechanisms which we as social beings use on daily basis in order to communicate.

Till 2015 he had several exhibitions in Tate Modern on which he showed sculpture and drawings
Michael Craig-Martin – Art and Design 1917, 2013

The Artistic Beginnings

Sir Michael CraigMartin in born in 1941, in Dublin. From an early childhood, he was subjected to a religious education. Namely, the artist spent eight years in a Roman Catholic school run by the nuns and later attended highly strict the English Benedictine Priory School. Afterward, Michael Craig-Martin studied in the Lycée Français in Bogotá, Colombia, where his father had employment for a while. After the return to the US, he attended drawing classes and in 1959 attended Fordham University in New York for English Literature and History, while also starting to paint. Two years later, Michael Craig-Martin studied art at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, and in the autumn began a painting course at Yale University, where the teaching was strongly influenced by the multi-disciplinary experimentation and minimalist theories on color and form of famous Bauhaus master Josef Albers.

The artist is one of the pioneers of conceptual art

His notable conceptual work oak served as a great inspiration to group of Young British artists
Michael Craig-Martin – Longbox, 1967

In a Search For A Form: From Objects Back To Painting

Dazzled by the lessons from former Bauhaus experimenter and drawn by then art currents, Craig-Martin made some of his first works in the media of sculpture reminiscent of Duchamp’s ready-made and Minimalist art. From his early box-like constructions of the late 1960s, he moved increasingly to the production of line drawings of ordinary objects in the 70’s. Those pieces reflected mathematical precision, clarity and conceptual incision. The apparent interest in semantics was inclined in some of the demands of new conceptual thinking and was related to the idea of philosophical deliberation of language. Later on, in the 1990’s the artist returned to painting and appropriated precise, bald and almost pop style suffocated with vibrant and vivid colors expressed through complex installations and wall paintings.

Michael Craig-Martin deployed various influences from art history

In London home the artist wrote several books and made contact with museum to publish it in 2016
Michael Craig-Martin – Paris Night, 1987

Constructing Authentic Style

Interestingly, in the catholic school which Craig-Martin attended pupils were encouraged to look at the religious imagery in illuminated glass panels and stained-glass windows and that has largely reflected on his painting style from 90’s onwards. The first art history lessons the artist received 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. Later on, while still at university in Bogota, Craig-Martin was rather influenced by the artist Antonio Roda, who gave him a wider perspective on art. Although his parents had no inclinations towards art, they did have on display in their home Picasso’s Greedy Child.

A dialogue between representation and reality

In 2015 there was a huge show Transience while in 2016 he participated in few group exhibitions
Michael Craig-Martin – Knowing, 1996

The Immense Influence of Michael Craig-Martin on a New Generation

In the 1980s Michael Craig-Martin was a tutor at Goldsmiths College and significantly encouraged and strongly influenced the emerging generation of Young British Artists, to which great art superstars like Damian Hirst and Tracey Emin belong. His astounding desire to help the youngsters reflected the willingness for the scene to progress and grow fully. Therefore, Craig-Martin’s previous exhibition experience was very useful to forming the Freeze show, especially in promoting the event to established art-world figures since commercial galleries had shown a lack of interest in the project.

The Godfather of Young British Artists

The work Oak Tree consists of a glass of water standing on shelf attached to the wall
Michael Craig-Martin – Umbrella(blue), 2011

The Respectable Art Practice

The first solo exhibition of Michael CraigMartin happened at the Rowan Gallery, London, in 1969, while only three years later the artist participated in the inauguration exhibition of British conceptual art, The New Art at the Hayward Gallery in 1972. His works are represented in a number of most prolific public collections worldwide from Museum of Modern Art, New York, over Tate, London, to Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. A principal figure of British conceptual art, CraigMartin left an impressive legacy of incredible works which are continuously processed with the same freshness, boldness and authentic desire to examine new meanings of social phenomena in regards to contemporaneity.

Michael Craig-Martin lives and works in London.

Featured image: Portrait of Michael Craig-Martin – image courtesy of Royal Academy
All images are courtesy of the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group  
2015-16TransienceSerpentine Gallery, London, EnglandSolo
2015Sleepless – The bed in history and contemporary art21er Hause, Vienna, AustriaGroup
2015MTV RedefineGoss-Michael Foundation, Dallas, TX.Solo
201520th Anniversary ExhibitionAlan Cristea Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2015NOWShanghai Himalayas Museum, Shanghai, ChinaSolo
2014Post Pop: East Meets WestSaatchi Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2014Michael Craig-MartinGagosian Gallery, London, EnglandSolo
2014FIERCE CREATIVITYPace Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2014Objects of our TimeAlan Cristea Gallery, London, EnglandSolo
2014Le Jardin Décomposé - Decomposed GardenGagosian Gallery, Le Bourget, Paris, FranceGroup
2014Michael Craig-MartinGagosian Gallery, Hong Kong, ChinaSolo
2014CLEARGagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA.Group
2014Michael Craig-Martin at ChatsworthChatsworth House, Derbyshire, EnglandSolo
2014Editions & AcquisitionsAlan Cristea Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2013Michael Craig-Martin: Less Is Still MoreMuseum Haus Esters, Krefeld, GermanySolo
2013New AcquisitionsScottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, ScotlandGroup
2013Michael Craig-Martin: Drawings 1967-1992, Recent paintings PrintsGalerie Andres Thalmann, Zurich, travelling to St. Moritz, SwitzerlandSolo
2013ThirteenAlan Cristea Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2012Alphabet by Michael Craig-MartinRugby Art Gallery and Museum, Rugby, EnglandSolo
2012Time out of MindIrish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, IrelandGroup
2012Michael Craig-Martin: DrawingsLuther W. Brady Art Gallery, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., travelling to Reading Public Museum,Solo
2012Cool BritanniaGallery Hyundai, Seoul, South KoreaGroup
2012Michael Craig-Martin: Prints and DrawingsGalerie I.D., Geneva, SwitzerlandSolo
2011Drawings 1967-2002Alan Cristea Gallery. London, EnglandSolo
2011The Indiscipline of PaintingTate, St. Ives, EnglandGroup
2011Michael Craig-Martin. New Painting and SculptureRoche Court, Wiltshire, EnglandSolo
2010Michael Craig-MartinGagosian Gallery, Athens, GreeceSolo
2010Art – Curated by Michael Craig-MartinGalerie Haas & Fuchs, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2010Michael Craig-MartinThe Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas, TXSolo
2010ElevenAlan Cristea Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2009Michael Craig-Martin. New WorksGalerie Haas & Fuchs, Berlin, GermanySolo
2009Northern Print BiennaleLaing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, EnglandGroup
2009Michael Craig-MartinPKM Trinity Gallery, Seoul, South KoreaSolo
2009Summer Exhibition 2009Royal Academy of Arts, London, EnglandGroup
2008Alphabets and SunsetsAlan Cristea Gallery, London, EnglandSolo
2008New Prints from the Royal College of Art Selected by Chris Orr RARoyal Academy of Arts, London, EnglandGroup
2008Michael Craig-Martin The Columns, Seoul, South KoreaSolo
2008Martian Museum of Terrestrial ArtBarbican, London, EnglandGroup
2007A is for UmbrellaGagosian Gallery, Britannia Street, London, EnglandSolo
2007Living In the Material World – Things In Art Of The 20th Century and BeyondThe National Art Center, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2007UntitledLondon National Art Centre, Tokyo, JapanSolo
2007Imagery PlayPKM GALLERY, Seoul, South KoreaGroup
2007UntitledTheo Contemporary, Seoul, KoreaSolo
2006Michael Craig-MartinNew Art Centre, Wiltshire, EnglandSolo
2006HyperdesignShanghai Biennale, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2006Michael Craig-Martin: Signs of LifeKunsthaus Bregenz, AustriaSolo
2006Michael Craig-MartinIrish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, IrelandSolo
2006Climate ChangeCentre National d’Art Contemporain de Grenoble, Grenoble, FranceSolo
2005Michael Craig-MartinGalerie Haas & Fuchs, Berlin, GermanySolo
2005Painting the EdgeGallery Hyundai, Seoul, South KoreaGroup
2004Michael Craig-Martin: SurfacingMilton Keynes Art Gallery, EnglandSolo
2004100 Artists See God (curated by John Baldessari and Meg Cranston)The Jewish Museum San Francisco, San Francisco, CAGroup
2004ARP Arp Museum, Remagen, GermanySolo
2004Deconstructing Piero, Deconstructing Seurat, FolioAlan Cristea Gallery, London,EnglandSolo
2003WorkspaceGalerie Judin, Zurich, SwitzerlandSolo
2003Eye of the Storm.Gagosian Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2003Michael Craig-MartinGallery Seomi, Seoul, KoreaSolo
2002Inhale/exhaleManchester Art Gallery, Manchester, EnglandSolo
2002PassengerAstrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo, NorwayGroup
2001LandscapesDouglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, IrelandSolo
2001UntitledLux Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2001LivingSintra Museum of Modern Art, Berardo Collection, Sintra, PortugalSolo
2000ConferenceWaddington Galleries, London, EnglandSolo
2000Live in your headWhitechapel Art Gallery, London, England. Travelled to: Museo do Chiado, Lisbon, PortugalGroup
2000Michael Craig-MartinIVAM, Valencia, SpainSolo
2000Full/emptyfg-1, London, EnglandSolo
2000UntitledHaus der Kunst, Munich, GermanySolo
1999Michael Craig-Martin: And sometimes a cigar is just a cigarWurttembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, GermanySolo
1999ModernStarts: ThingsMuseum of Modern Art, New York, NYSolo
1999Signature PiecesAlan Cristea Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
1999Common HistoryPeter Blum Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1998Michael Craig-Martin: Always NowKunstverein, Hannover, GermanySolo
1998Elegant AusterityWaddington Galleries, London, EnglandGroup
1998British PavilionIbirapuera park, 24th International Bienal of Sao Paolo, BrazilSolo
1998UntitledMario Diacono Gallery. Boston, MASolo
1997Innocence and experienceWaddington Galleries, London, EnglandSolo
1997Treasure IslandCalouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, PortugalGroup
1997Michael Craig-Martin: PrintsAlan Cristea Gallery, London, EnglandSolo
1997Michael Craig-MartinGalerie Der Spiegel, Cologne, GermanySolo
1997Michael Craig-Martin und Raymond PettibonKunstverein fur die Rheinlande,Dusseldorf, GermanySolo
1997UntitledSouthampton City Art Gallery, Southampton, EnglandSolo
1996Un siècle de sculpture AnglaiseGalerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, FranceGroup
1995UntitledMuseum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, ILSolo
1995The Adventure of Painting (curated by Martin Hentschel and Raimund Stecker) Kunstverein, Düsseldorf, Germany and Kunstverein, Stuttgart, GermanyGroup
1994Private space, public spaceCentre Georges Pompidou, Paris, FranceSolo
1994Wall to WallSerpentine Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
1994Wall paintings at the Villa HerbstMuseum Sztuki, Lodz, PolandSolo
1994An oak treeGaleria Foksal, Warsaw, PolandSolo
1993AccommodatingBritish School at Rome, Rome, ItalySolo
1993Out of sight, out of mindLisson Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
1993UntitledGalerie Claudine Papillon, Paris, FranceSolo
1993At HomeWaddington Galleries, London, EnglandSolo
199293Twelve Stars: selected works from the European Parliament CollectionGroup
1992UntitledWaddington Galleries, London, EnglandSolo
1991Projects 27Museum of Modern Art, New York, NYSolo
1991Objects for the Ideal Home: The Legacy of Pop ArtSerpentine Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
1991UntitledDavid Nolan Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1991Michael Craig-MartinMusйe des Beaux-Arts, Andre Malraux, Le Havre, FranceSolo
1990UntitledGalerie Claudine Papillon, Paris, FranceSolo
1990The Readymade Boomerang (curated by Rene Block)Sydney BiennaleGroup
1989Michael Craig-Martin: A retrospective 1968-1989Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, EnglandSolo
1989SculptureSix Friedrich Gallery, Munich, GermanyGroup
1988UntitledWaddington Galleries, London, EnglandSolo
1988Starlit Waters: British Sculpture, on International Art 1968-1988Tate Gallery, Liverpool, EnglandGroup
1988That Which Appears Is Good, That Which Is Good AppearsTanja Grunert Gallery, Cologne, GermanyGroup
1987UntitledZach Schuster Gallery, Florida, USASolo
1987VesselSerpentine Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
1986Entre el Objeto y la Imagen - Escultura britanica contemporaneaPalacio Velazquez, Madrid, Spain. Travelled to: Barcelona; Bilbao, SpainGroup
1985UntitledWaddington Galleries, London, EnglandSolo
1984UntitledWaddington & Shiell Gallery, Toronto, CanadaSolo
19841965-1972 - when attitude became formKettle’s Yard Gallery, Cambridge, England, and Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, ScotlandGroup
1983New ArtTate Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
1982UntitledFifth Triennale India, New Delhi, IndiaSolo
1982Aspects of British Art TodayMetropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan. Toured Japan Waddington Galleries, London, EnglandGroup
1981UntitledGalerija Suvremene Umjetnosti, Zagreb, CroatiaSolo
1981MalmoeKonsthall, Malmö, SwedenGroup
1980UntitledGaleria Bama, Paris, FranceSolo
1980ROSCUniversity College Gallery and National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, IrelandGroup
1979UntitledGaleria Foksal, Warsaw, PolandSolo
1979Un Certain Art Anglais (organised by ARC II and the British Council)Musée d’Art Moderne de to Ville de ParisGroup
1979UntitledGaleria Akumlatory, Poznan, PolandSolo
1979UntitledOliver Dowling Gallery, Dublin, IrelandSolo
1978UntitledGalerie December, Dusseldorf, GermanySolo
1978The Garden (organised by Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels)Jardinbotanique National, Meis, BelgiumGroup
1978Michael Craig-Martin: 10 works 1970-77Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, AustraliaSolo
1977UntitledOliver Dowling Gallery, Dublin, IrelandSolo
1977Documenta VIKassel, West GermanyGroup
1976Michael Craig-Martin: Selected Works 1966-1975Turnpike Gallery, Leigh, EnglandSolo
1976Art as Thought ProcessXI Biennale International d’Art, Palais d’Europe, Menton, FranceGroup
1975Britanniasta 75Helsingin Taidehalli, Helsinki, FinlandGroup
1975Contemporary British DrawingsXIII Biennial of Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
1974UntitledGalerie December, Mьnster, GermanySolo
1974Idea and Image in Recent ArtArt Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
1973Art as Thought ProcessSerpentine Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
1973Henry Moore to Gilbert & GeorgePalais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, BelgiumGroup
19727 ExhibitionsTate Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
1971UntitledArnolfni Gallery, Bristol, EnglandSolo
1971UntitledRichard Demarco gallery, Edinburgh, ScotlandSolo
1970Critic’s ChoiceArthur Tooth & Sons, London, EnglandGroup
1970ModernStarts: ThingsMuseum of Modern Art, New York, NYGroup
1969UntitledRowan Gallery, London, EnglandSolo