Overview

Terry Atkinson

(b. 1939)


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(1939– )

British artist and art theorist, born in Thurscoe, Yorkshire. He was associated with the early years of the Art & Language group, which he left in 1975. The value of the group's work for him was that it ‘presupposes not just an active spectator but an active artist trying to be as self-conscious as possible about a given set of exchanges’. This is an approach which rejects the ideology of spontaneity in art in favour of a more theoretical approach. However, he is best known, not for his Conceptual work, but for his paintings and drawings with political themes. These, he has said, are ‘strategically aimed at an audience’, that audience which is theoretically aware. He has examined the First World War, nuclear weapons and the situation in Northern Ireland. His work is critical, not just of larger social issues, but of the institutions of art. In 2003 he wrote: ‘If the work I have made over the last 40 years…has a characteristic concern running through it, it is a concern with making a critique of art rather than a celebration of it.’


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