• Emma Theedom

Biography and Statement Research

A biography I would like to briefly discuss is one by Cesar Santos. His biography is written in third person, which automatically represents yourself as someone with importance. This style of writing, especially in a biography gives the reader the impression that the artist has not written the bio themselves and has had someone type it for them, even if they did write it themselves. Firsthand, I have experienced artists debating whether or not their statement should be in first or third person. When in first, it allows a personal touch to your writing and connects to the reader differently than third person. Third person is formal and almost reads as if it was being read to you. However first person text is slightly more informal and friendly. I also noticed in Santos' bio, his beginning caption states his birth as; (b. 1982). I would usually expect to see this description of birth date representing an artist in the past. I get the impression that Santos' is purposefully portraying himself as an artist with traditional concepts. Santos also has a self portrait of himself heading the biography, this instantly gives you an insight to his style of work and you have only just reached the page of the biography/statement.

"Cesar Santos (b. 1982), Cuban-American.

Santos art education is worldly, and his work has been seen around the globe, from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sicily, Italy and the Beijing museum in China to Chelsea, New York. Santos studied at Miami Dade College, where he earned his Associate in Arts degree in 2003. He then attended the New World School of the Arts and, just before graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, he dropped out to study abroad and to amplify his understanding of art. In 2006, he completed the Angel Academy of Art in Florence. Santos’ work reflects both classical and modern interpretations juxtaposed within one painting. His influences range from the Renaissance to the Masters of the Nineteenth Century to Contemporary Art. With superb technique, he infuses a harmony between the natural and the conceptual to create works that are provocative and dramatic."

"My artistic energy drives me to capture the monumental language of classical majesty and humanism presented at a personal level. I am experimenting with poly-visual forms, that first appeared on the pages of my sketchbooks. I am brainstorming with the tradition and ongoing process of artistic expression; referring also to the contemporary visual freedoms of my time, allowing my need to search for mastery and present it in a simple, raw and honest way. My work is the result of multiple art forms orchestrated to sing in harmony the song of my life. My media for communicating involve archaic materials such as raw linen, gesso, charcoal, linseed oil and oil paints."

Santos' biography then carries on to display all of his exhibitions in categories such as;

  • Solo

  • Group

  • Reviews

  • Awards and Honours

Simple categories displaying all events in order of most recent first. I believe this is very common practise to showcase all your exhibitions, starting from the most recent to gain more interest in the artist. It would become very boring if the artist informed you of all their oldest exhibitions that have already been and gone years ago. I think upon researching Cesar Santos throughout the last two years of my degree, I seem to prefer his profile as an artist. For someone who's art is a very entertaining mixture of classical and contemporary, his approach as an artist is very professional and I believe this shows in his biography/statement. His website is filled with artwork to view at your pleasure which I appreciate very much when visiting an artist's website. It gives me the opportunity to see the artists work, if I have no available opportunity to see it in person.

After looking into Santos' website and biography/statement, I feel I have inspired to use his choices within my own practise. I totally adore the idea of use a self portrait/image of myself to allow the viewer to see the artist physically, as it personalises yourself as a person and an artist. As much as I do love a mystery, it's nice to see the face of someone in their field. I also see myself using third person in my biography, simply because a biography should be seen and read as something informative. However, my statement will be written in first person as I would like to introduce a personal tone which will encourage the viewers to read on, hearing the voice of the artist.

When it comes down to an artist CV, I believe it needs to be one which neatly displays all your events and accomplishments, quite like Santos' biography. I don't believe you need to display anything which might enhance your skills, something which you might find on a typical CV, such as descriptive writing like, 'hard worker, efficient, punctual' etc. An artist's CV should represent what you have achieved so far, what it was and where it was. I have an example of a short section of Tom Hunter's CV;

"Selected Group Exhibitions

2014 Life on the Road, London college of Communication, London

2014 The Portrait in Contemporary Photographic Practice, The Wellin Museum of Art, Clinton, U.S.A.

2014 The Process, Avesta, Sweden

2014 Songs From The Heart, Bredaphoto festival, Netherlands

2014 The Luxury of Simplicity, Stradtmuseum, Munich, Germany

2014 Archive: Imagining the East End, The Cass, London

2013 Making It Up: Photographic Fictions, V&A Museum, London

Memory & Imagination, The Mall Galleries, London

From madonna to Madonna. Deconstructions of the feminine in contemporary society, Da2 Salamanca, Spain

How is the World, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA

UK Photography Now, Dong Gang International Photography Festival, South Korea

FADING LIGHTS ARE FADING, Flood, Dublin, Ireland

Uncertain States, Cass, London

Divine Bodies, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, UK

Seduced by Art; Photography Past & Present, Caixa Forum, Barcelona, Spain

2012 Seduced by Art; Photography Past & Present, National Gallery, London

2011 Another Story, Modern Museet, Stockholm

Unheralded Stories, Mead Gallery, Warwick

Please Write, Posted, London

Caldic Collection, Kunsthal, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

A Palace for Us, East End Film Festival, London

2010 The Ghetto, The Galleries of Modern London, Museum of London

British Photography, Photomonth, Krakow, Poland

Polaroid Project, The Photographers Gallery, London

Enchantment, The Joseloff Gallery, West Hartford, USA

Can Art Save Us, Millennium Galleries, Sheffield, UK

Tears of Eros, The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain

Photolita Exhibition, Five Hundred Dollars, London

Lust for Life & Dance of Death, Olbricht Collection, Austria

Incognito: The Hidden Self-Portrait, The Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, USA

Timespace, Burren College of Art, Ireland

2009 People and Places, Secca South Eastern Centre for Contemporary Art, North Carolina, USA

House of Cards, Haunch of Venison, London

Salon No 3, Marine, Los Angeles, USA

Between the Lines, Photomonth Month, London

Tears of Eros, The Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain

Ophelia -Desire, melancholy the death wish, Museum of Modern Art, Arnhem, The Netherlands

Titian Display, National Gallery of Scotland

Theatres of the Real, Fotomuseum, Antwerp, Belgium

The Pre-Raphaelites, National Museum, Stockholm, Sweden."

It's a very neat representation of all his works, which precise and exact information which the reader would be interested in, however his CV goes on for 6 pages. Exactly how long is too long? It became very boring and I guarantee I did not read past the second page. However, if it's from a professional perspective this shows he is very experienced and has contributed a lot to his work and exhibited in many places. He also included lists such as;

  • Collections

  • Monographs

  • Other selected catalogues and books

  • Permanent Exhibitions

I appreciate both artist's biographies and the way they represented them so I can see myself being influenced to use both methods. Maybe one day I could reach the lengthy pages of Tom Hunters CV.

I would also like to read more into the biography and statement for Cindy Sherman. She is part of my research for this module and there was something about her statements, which stand out.

"Cindy Sherman is an American photographer and filmmaker whose self-portraits offer critiques of gender and identity. What made Sherman famous is the use of her own body in roles or personas in her work, with her seminal series Untitled Film Stills (1977–1980) being particularly important. These black-and-white photographs feature the artist herself as a model in various costumes and poses and are her portrayals of female stereotypes found in film, television, and advertising. Similar to Barbara Kruger, Sherman examines and distorts femininity as a social construct. “I like making images that from a distance seem kind of seductive, colourful, luscious and engaging, and then you realise what you're looking at is something totally opposite,” she reflected. “It seems boring to me to pursue the typical idea of beauty, because that is the easiest and the most obvious way to see the world. It's more challenging to look at the other side.” Born on January 19, 1954 in Glen Ridge, NJ, the artist abandoned painting for photography while attending the State University of New York at Buffalo, and in 1976, moved to New York to pursue a career as a photographer. In addition to the Untitled Film Stills series, she has continued to explore women as subject matter, often donning elaborate disguises in large-scale colour photographs, throughout her career. While her practice has grouped her with the Pictures Generation, along with artists such as Sherrie Levine and Robert Longo, her distinctive blend of performance and photography stands alone. Her work has been the subject of many museum exhibitions, including those at The Museum of Modern Art. Sherman lives and works in New York, NY."

"Cindy Sherman (American, b.1954) is a photographer who incorporates aspects of feminism, performance art, cultural criticism, and the body and identity politics into her provocative work. Sherman abandoned painting for photography while attending the State University of New York at Buffalo, and in 1976, moved to New York City to pursue a career as a photographer. She gained broad critical acclaim for her famous early series Untitled Film Stills, taking photographs of herself dressed as invented characters embodying female cliches, such as ‘the bored housewife’, ‘the sexy librarian’, and ‘the ambitious career girl’. Sherman continued to use herself as a subject in several other series, including her History Portraits, in which she inserted herself into Old Master paintings as a way of re-examining the role of the female within them. She mainly photographed herself in disguises and explored the darker side of culture in her depictions of perverted fairy tales, war, and sex. Through her work, Sherman examined anxiety, disgust, the lurid, and the grotesque. She is the recipient of the MacArthur Award and Hasselblad Award for Photography, among other honours. Sherman has more recently returned to using her own body in her work as the subject of simplified portraits of female types. She lives and works in New York City."

I suppose what I adore most about her biography and statement is because she quotes herself within the text. I mean, you've got to be dead serious about your work if you start to quote yourself. I'm not sure whether I am ready to quote myself for a statement, one reason simply being, what would I quote? And am I experience enough to do so? I do feel like having a quote within a statement is a good touch however and I will explore this avenue when it comes to writing my statement for the degree show.

© All image and content belongs to Emma Theedom

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