A.J. Fries

1972 · United States

Artist biography

A.J. Fries is an established, mid-career contemporary artist, who was born and brought up in the United States, like other celebrated artists such as Jef Gunn, Anne Minich, Cleon Peterson, Albert Contreras, and Joshua Pieper. A.J. Fries was born in 1972.

Historical Context of United States

The United States has been key in the evolution of modern and contemporary art in the twentieth century, particularly in the post war period, when the cultural importance of New York assumed primacy over Paris, previously considered as the most powerful art hub globally.

Leading art movements developed and cultivated in important ways throughout the United States include Abstract Expressionism in diverse forms, Pop Art, including its West and East Coast variants, Minimalism, Conceptual Art, Neo-Expressionism, Graffiti and Street Art, plus various post-modern echoes of these many movements. In the modern and contemporary era, the United States has cultivated a prevailing influence over the worldwide visual culture, due to the hegemony of its economic and political institutions. Key examples of important U.S artists of the modern and contemporary period include Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Donald Judd, Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.

Further Biographical Context for A.J. Fries

Born in 1972, A.J. Fries was predominantly influenced by the 1990s. In the United Kingdom, a group of artists known as the YBAs, or Young British Artists, dominated the artistic culture of the decade. They were a loosely affiliated and diverse group, connected generally by their age and nationality. A number of the members had attended the Royal College of Art and Goldsmiths in London, and were favoured by Charles Saatchi, the ‘super collector’ of art at the time. The most famous member of YBAs is arguably Damien Hirst, and other members included Chris Ofili, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn, Gavin Turk, Sarah Lucas and Sam Taylor-Johnson (née Sam Taylor-Wood). Through their use of shock tactics and sensationalism, the YBAs garnered a controversial public image which was further fuelled by their use of throwaway materials, wild lifestyles and an attitude that was at the same time rebellious and enterprising. The group was predominant in the British art scene in the 1990s and their group show ‘Sensation’ is now viewed as legendary.

Relational Aesthetics, a term coined by curator Nicholas Bourriaud to describe the act of making art based on human relations and their social context, became a central idea in the 1990s. Works by artists like Douglas Gordon, Gillian Wearing, Philippe Parenno and Liam Gillick were described as important artists who worked to this outline.

The boom in consumerism and advertising that took place in the 1980s influenced a trend in Japan that developed into the art form of manga, which was visually influenced by trends in advertising and graphic design. Takashi Murakami arose as a leading figure in the art world, coining the term ‘Superflat’ to describe a theory inspired by the aesthetic characteristics of manga and the nature of post-war Japanese culture. Murakami went on to found the influential Kaikai Kiki group, which was inspired by his experiences living in New York City in the mid-1990s.

The art world was influenced by a number of trends throughout the decade, the controversial, hyper-realistic sculptures of Maurizio Cattelan and the sensitive, conceptual work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres epitomised the atmosphere of the era.

German artists and ideas strongly influenced trends in conceptual photography during this period. German artists such as Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, and Wolfgang Tillmans gained major recognition, and inspired international artists such as the Canadian Jeff Wall, who created images with a cinematic expressiveness that were inspired by the themes present in the German artists’ work. At the same time, Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger gained influential status in the field of painting.

A.J. Fries

  • Exhibitions 1

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