Michael Craig-Martin, Untitled (coke can), 2014, acrylic on aluminum, 48 × 48 inches (122 × 122 cm). Photo by Mike Bruce
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.
Michael Craig–Martin was born in 1941 in Dublin, Ireland. He attended Fordham University, New York, from 1959 to 1961. He received his B.A. in 1963 and his M.F.A. in 1966 from Yale University, Connecticut. 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, London, from 1974 to 1988 and from 1994 to 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. Craig–Martin has had solo exhibitions at institutions across the world including Sintra Museum of Modern Art, Berardo Collection, Portugal (2001); Arp Museum, Germany (2005); Le Magasin – Centre National d’Art Contemporain de Grenoble, France (2006); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2006–07); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2006); New Art Centre, England (2006); The Goss–Michael Foundation, Dallas (2010, 2015); New Painting and Sculpture In the Gallery and the Sculpture Park, Roche Court, England (2011); Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, England (2012); Museum Haus Esters, Germany (2013); Chatsworth House, England (2014); and Shanghai Himalayas Museum, China (2015, traveled to Hubei Art Museum, China). 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.
Craig–Martin was an Artist Trustee of Tate from 1989 to 1999, and was elected to the Royal Academy in 2006.
Craig–Martin currently lives and works in London, England.