David Medalla

  • Born 1942 in Manila, Philippines

David Medalla was a pioneer of land art, kinetic art, and performance art. He was only twelve years old when the poet Mark van Doren (1894–1972), a professor of English at New York’s Columbia University, recommended him for admission. There he studied ancient and modern literature, drama, and philosophy, and met the Filipino poet José Garcia Villa (1908–1997), who encouraged Medalla's interest in painting. In the late 1950s, when he returned to Manila, the Catalan poet Jaime Gil de Biedma (1929–1990) and the painter Fernando M. Zóbel (1924–1984) became patrons of his art. From the 1960s onward, however, he lived and worked in Europe, where he was encouraged by the philosopher Gaston Bachelard (1884–1962) and the artist Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968). Medalla often combined bubbles, sand, or neon with glass or plastic structures. Medalla’s Cloud Canyons (Cloud Gates) (1963), his first bubble machine, was followed by many others during the next thirty years. He was a founder and director of Signals Gallery (1964), the Exploding Galaxy collaborative (1967), and Artists for Democracy (1974–77). Medalla has taught in Europe and the U.S.; his work has been included in many important exhibitions, including Documenta (1972), Kassel.

Artworks by David Medalla in the exhibition