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Return to: Agnes Denes

Artist Statement


Agnes Denes is an American artist/scholar of international renown. One of the originators of Conceptual art, Denes has investigated the physical and social sciences, philosophy, linguistics, psychology, art history, poetry and music and transformed her explorations into unique works of visual art. Denes was one of the first artists to be involved with the relationship of science to art, and was also a pioneer of ecological art. One of the first artists to initiate the environmental art movement, her work involves ecological, cultural and social issues, and are often monumental in scale.

Perhaps best known for Wheatfield-A Confrontation (1982), a two-acre wheat field she planted and harvested downtown Manhattan, a work that addresses human values and misplaced priorities. In 1996 she completed Tree Mountain-A Living Time Capsule in Finland, a massive earthwork and reclamation project that reaches four hundred years into the future to benefit future generations with a meaningful legacy. In l998 she planted a forest of endangered species in Australia and a cropland in the heart of Caracas, Venezuela.

Agnes Denes has had over 300 solo and group exhibitions on four continents, including Documenta VI in Kassel (1977), three Venice Biennales (1978, 1980,2001) and "Master of Drawing" Invitational at the Kunsthalle in Nürnberg (1982). She has shown at the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum in New York. In l992 she had a major retrospective at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University, for which five art historians contributed catalogue essays.

An artist of enormous vision, Denes has written four books and holds a doctorate in fine arts. Among her numerous awards are the Watson Transdisciplinary Art Award from Carnegie Mellon University (l999); the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome (l998); the Eugene McDermott Achievement Award from M.I.T. "In Recognition of Major Contribution to the Arts" (l990); the American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Award (l985); four National Endowment Fellowships and four NYSCA grants; and the DAAD Fellowship from Berlin. Denes is a Research Fellow at the Studio For Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University; the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at M.I.T. and the Courant Institute at N.Y.U. She lectures extensively at universities in the U.S. and abroad and participates in global conferences.

Selected public collections include: Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA and Whitney Museum in New York; National Museum of American Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, and Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.; Kunsthalle, Nürnberg,; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell University and many others.

Encyclopedia of Contemporary Artists, London, England
American Academy in Rome, Italy (catalogue)

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