Michael Craig-Martin - Biography

"To be an artist means creating a life primarily based on doing the work that you yourself decide to do. It is not possible to sustain the engagement this requires unless the doing of it gives you pleasure. I don't mean fun, and making art can be both tedious and depressing, but in essence it brings pleasure," Michael Craig-Martin contended a week before Damien Hirst's history-making auction at Sotheby's.


One of Craig-Martin's achievements is to convey this kind of pleasure to his students at London's Goldsmiths College. He encourages them to recognize and value the aspects of their work that gives them pleasure. Hirst, his most famous student, has clearly taken this to heart. Evidence for this is his painting “Michael with Diamond Skull” (2008), the last lot in the auction, #287, the ultimate closure of the Blockbuster-event. Who has the cheekier smile - the skull or the professor?


Craig-Martin is mainly known for three things:  His early conceptual art, including the installation “An Oak Tree” (1973), which was stopped by the Australian customs for being a biological hazard despite being constructed out of nothing more than a glass of water; his 1978 invention of a style of graphic drawing even more impersonal than that of Warhol, Caulfield, and Lichtenstein; and finally as the professor at Goldsmith College. 1993 he returned to the University of London as Millard Professor of Fine Art. He helped many young British Artists in their careers and taught, among many others, Angus Fairhurst, Mat Collishaw, Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas and Simon Patterson.

"His success is often said to be based on clinical thought, yet he attributes it to the pleasure principle."

It is no coincidence, that his later style developed several years after his arrival at Goldsmiths. "There is no doubt, my teaching had a big impact on my work. I started drawing individual objects in 1978. I wanted to make drawings that had no style, but ironically it is precisely this that has come to be seen as my style." He preferred the most every-day things - shoes, tables, chairs and sunglasses. Hinting to Warhol, Craig-Martin explains: "I wanted to depict something even more universal than Marilyn Monroe!”


Michael Craig-Martin - art collections

Michael Craig-Martin's work can be found, among others, in the Deutsche Bank collection, the Leeds City Art Gallery, the Museum Berardo, the Southampton City Art Gallery and the Stella Art Foundation in Moscow.


You can buy works by Michael Craig-Martin in our shop.


"Common History: Totem", 1999

Michael Craig-Martin: Common History: Totem, 1999

Michael Craig-Martin

Michael Craig-Martin