Michael Craig-Martin

MICHAEL CRAIG-MARTIN, Untitled (coke can), 2014, acrylic on aluminum, 48 × 48 inches (122 × 122 cm). Photo by Mike Bruce

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Michael Craig-Martin was born in 1941 in Dublin, Ireland. He holds a BA (1963) and an MFA (1966) from Yale University. 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 Goldsmith's College School of Art from 1974–88 and 1994–2000, where he was a powerful influence on a generation of his students who became known as the Young British Artists, including Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas, and Damien Hirst. 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 draughtsmanship, he uses composition to explore spatial relationships by juxtaposing and layering color.

Craig-Martin's work is in many public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Tate Gallery, London, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. He has had solo exhibitions at institutions across the world including Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2006); Krefeld Museum, Germany (2013); Chatsworth House, Derbyshire (2014); and the Serpentine Gallery, London (2015).  A retrospective of his work was presented at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1989) and a second at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2006–07). Permanent large-scale installations can be seen at the DLR Station Woolwich Arsenal, the European Investment Bank, Luxembourg, and the Laban Dance Centre, Greenwich, a collaboration with architects Herzog and DeMeuron.  He was an Artist Trustee of Tate from 1989-99, received a CBE in 2001, and was elected to the Royal Academy in 2006. 

Craig-Martin currently lives and works in London.