American Philosophical Society
Member History

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Residency
International[X]
Class
5. The Arts, Professions, and Leaders in Public & Private Affairs[X]
Subdivision
501. Creative Artists[X]
1Name:  Mr. William Kentridge
 Year Elected:  2012
 Class:  5. The Arts, Professions, and Leaders in Public & Private Affairs
 Subdivision:  501. Creative Artists
 Residency:  International
 Living? :   Living
 Birth Date:  1955
   
 
William Kentridge was born in Johannesburg in 1955 into a Jewish family of political activists, lawyers who took on civil-rights cases against apartheid. He earned a B.A. in politics and African studies and a diploma in fine arts from Johannesburg Art Foundation. Between 1975 and 1991 he was acting and directing in Johannesburg’s Junction Avenue Theatre Company. His early work focused on narrative graphics, sometimes in series reminiscent of comic strips and more recently has developed into a radical fusion of the nature of drawing, print-making, and cinematography in which he photographs a graphic work, alters it, and films it again, creating animate images out of still ones. Traces of what had been erased remain visible, giving a sense of fading memory and the passing of time. His oeuvre addresses political and social themes from a personal viewpoint, often including self-portraits. In a series of nine short films, he introduces characters who reveal the emotional and political struggles affecting the lives of South Africans in the years before and after the abolition of Apartheid. He has directed films, plays and operas; his recent production of Mozart’s Magic Flute was warmly received in New York City. His filmic work, Five Themes, filling the four walls of five large galleries exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco and New York was included in the annual Time 100 list of the top people and events of 2009, and was selected as the best museum exhibit of the year by the International Association of Art Critics. Kentridge has been given major exhibitions in the Louvre, the Jeu de Paume and the Albertina museums, and in nine other countries. In 2012 he was awarded with the Centennial Medal of the American Academy in Rome.
 
2Name:  Mr. Gerhard Richter
 Year Elected:  2012
 Class:  5. The Arts, Professions, and Leaders in Public & Private Affairs
 Subdivision:  501. Creative Artists
 Residency:  International
 Living? :   Living
 Birth Date:  1932
   
 
A towering figure in the history of German art, Gerhard Richter is widely regarded as one of the greatest living painters. His retrospectives at MOMA, SFMOMA, and the Hirschhorn (2002) established him as a pivotal figure in modern art. Richter’s immense oeuvre, which includes the great stained glass window in Cologne Cathedral (2007), is characterized by a plurality of means, most notably both photorealist compositions that are blurred in a signature way, and abstract paintings that, in the layered application of their paint surfaces, create spaces different from but analogous to those evoked by his photorealist images. The dialogue between these modes and others (color chart paintings, glass and mirror works, portraits), and the fact of a painter not maintaining a cohesive style, has altered the approach of artists in fashioning an oeuvre. Richter engaged in pivotal reflections on the nature of history, especially German history. His work represented in the exhibition Baader-Meinhof was a milestone in Germany’s "coming to terms with its past." Richter has encouraged artists of several generations likewise to think of painting as a vital art form that not only reflects on the human condition but that can change history. Richter’s work is instantly recognizable: the haunting blurred landscapes, evocations of a latter-day Romanticism, are unique in the history of art, and yet, within the context of the artist’s oeuvre, and through the detachment that the blurring effects and that the photo source implies, these images transcend personal expression. Art historically, Richter represents a profound local (i.e., German or European) response to Abstract Expressionism. Rooted in his biography (WWII experience, formation in the former GDR, emigration to West Germany, engagement in late 1960s agitations, etc.), his works profoundly revise the central directions that painting has taken since the 1960s. Richter’s oeuvre motivates a set of pivotal narratives about the history of modern and contemporary art.
 
Election Year
2012[X]