Michael Craig-Martin


One of contemporary art’s leading figures, Michael Craig-Martin is impossible to categorise. Although he first achieved fame as a conceptual artist, he has also worked as a sculptor, with wall drawings, texts and neon works. Since the 1990’s he has focused on painting and printmaking.
His drawing style deliberately avoids any expressive character. He aims for it to be impersonal and style free. (Although he notes that, paradoxically, this approach has resulted in an appearance that is recognizably “by Craig-Martin”).
His drawing shows “elegant restraint”, with bold, clear, uniform outlines. These images, often of everyday objects, are coloured vividly, even violently but the colour is also uniform and clean.
“…images do this amazing thing of having a double life. They recall ….an object that isn’t actually there at all, and at the same time they have a kind of life of their own as images”
Born in Ireland, Michael Craig-Martin grew up in the USA and studied Fine Art at Yale University. After graduating, in 1966, he moved to England.
He has held various teaching posts, most recently Professor of Fine Art at Goldsmiths College.
His most important teaching tenure was at Goldsmiths between 1974 and 1988, where he played a key part in the development of a group of “Young British Artists”, including Damien Hirst, Julian Opie and Gary Hume. He energetically promote the first YBA exhibition, Freeze, which did so much to advance these artists’ careers.
Since his first solo exhibition in 1969, Craig-Martin has exhibited extensively at major galleries throughout the world. His work is included in major public collections such as the Tate Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Museum of Modern Art (New York), Australian National Gallery and many others.
He was a Trustee of the Tate Gallery and is a Trustee of the National Art Collections Fund.
“I don’t have a message. I’m not trying to express something in an elaborate way, but I am trying to touch the imagination of somebody who looks at it, so it releases something in them”