Michael Cullen Todd    

Michael Todd was born in Omaha in 1935 and grew up in Chicago. He graduated magna cum laude with a BFA from Notre Dame in 1959 and received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to continue his studies at UCLA, where he completed his master's degree in 1961 with a focus in printmaking. In Los Angeles, Todd started making sculpture, initiating his “fetish” series, which he would further develop during his two year stay in Paris on a Fulbright Fellowship.

Returning to the US in 1963, Todd moved into a loft studio in New York City and began to work with wooden geometric constructions. His first solo exhibitions took place at the Hanover Gallery in London and Pace Gallery in New York. Todd’s work was included in the Whitney Museum’s Annuals of 1964, 1966, 1967 and 1970 and LACMA’s landmark exhibition American Sculpture of the Sixties. While teaching at Bennington College, he was invited to join the Arts Faculty at the University of California, San Diego in 1968. Thanks to the abundance of steel from the shipbuilding industry in San Diego, Todd shifted from wood to metal and began to develop his own mature artistic vocabulary.

Inspired by Zen concepts and calligraphy and the freedom of expression in California of the late 60’s, Todd used discarded shapes found in steel scrap yards to explore the cosmos and composition in space. The enso, a Zen circle motif, figures prominently in Todd’s work. For many years, Todd maintained his studio in New York City and continued to show there at Zabriskie Gallery, Betty Cuningham Gallery and Charles Cowles Gallery. In 1976, he moved with his wife and daughter to Los Angeles and began to show at Nicholas Wilder Gallery and Tortue Gallery. In the 1980’s, Todd shifted his focus to bronze, creating the components of his sculptures by pouring molten metal into a bed of sand.

The 90’s found Todd immersed in drawing and painting. In 2003, he began working in clay, and has created a series of ceramic wall pieces that evoke his first “fetish” series and also freestanding work that draws from his years of investigation of the circle, gravity and space.

Todd’s work can be found in many public collections, including the Whitney Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum, Storm King Art Center, the Norton Simon Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In addition to Bennington and UCSD, Todd has held teaching positions at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Otis College of Art and Design and University of California, Irvine.


©copyright 2009 Michael Todd
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