Anthony McCall

(b. 1946)

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(1946– )

British installation artist and designer. He was born in St Paul's Cray, Kent, and studied graphic design at Ravensbourne College of Art. In the early 1970s he staged events including the Landscape for Fire (petrol burning in a field) which were the basis for films. This emphasized for him the extent to which conventional cinema was always the record of a past event. He found an alternative to this after he moved to New York in 1973 and made his best-known film, Line Describing a Cone. On the screen there is seen the gradual tracing of the circumference of a circle in light against dark, but the spectator attends not just to the image but to the beam of projected light, a kind of dematerialized sculpture. This and other Solid Light films were initially shown in downtown lofts. As he put it, ‘when you had a few people in them the dust would get kicked up to create a kind of medium through which you could see my films’. The works were invisible when moved to the spotless environment of the uptown galleries but can now be seen again thanks to the invention of the fog machine. He has said that his installations need to be viewed as both sculpture and painting to be fully appreciated. From 1979 to 1998 he worked as a graphic designer, especially on exhibition catalogues, but afterwards returned to projection, this time working digitally rather than with film.

Further Reading

M Falconer, ‘Seeing the Light: Anthony McCall at Serpentine Gallery’, The Times (24 November 2007)J Kastner, ‘Anthony McCall talks about his “solid light” films’, Artforum International (summer 2004)

http://www.serpentinegallery.org/Anthony%20Mccall%20interview.pdf Interview by Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist, on the Serpentine Gallery website.

Subjects: Art.

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