Michael Craig-Martin

Michael Craig-Martin, Untitled (pink baby bottle), 2015, acrylic on aluminum, 23 5/8 × 23 5/8 inches  (60 × 60 cm) © Michael Craig-Martin. Photo by Mike Bruce.

Michael Craig-Martin Listed Exhibitions (47 Kb)
Michael Craig-Martin Bibliography (Selected) (89 Kb)



A principal figure of British conceptual art, Sir 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 draughtsmanship, he uses composition to explore spatial relationships by juxtaposing and layering color.

Sir 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 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—Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas, and Damien Hirst, among others. Craig-Martin’s work has been featured by solo museum exhibitions worldwide, including “Always Now,” Kunstverein Hannover, Germany (1998); Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, Spain (2000); “Living,” Sintra Museum of Modern Art - Berardo Collection, Portugal (2001); Arp Museum, Germany (2005); Le Magasin - Centre National d'Art Contemporain, France (2006); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2006–07); “Signs of Life,” Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2006); New Art Centre, England (2006); Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas (2010, 2015); Gallery at Roche Court, New Art Centre, England (2011); Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, England (2012); “Less Is Still More,” Museum Haus Esters, Germany (2013); Chatsworth House, England (2014); and “NOW,” Shanghai Himalayas Museum, China (2015, traveled to Hubei Art Museum, China). Craig-Martin's work is featured in various public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate, London; Centre Georges 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 Queens Birthday Honours for his services to art.

Sir Michael Craig-Martin currently lives and works in London.