Based in Los Angeles, Alex Israel engages with the particular culture of the local film and media industries. Mining the “food chain” of show business, he interrogates and confounds the fine line between “talent” and “raw material” while reframing and re-presenting manufactured items whose formal and auratic properties are often overlooked. For Israel, the American Dream, as embodied by the Los Angeles mythos, remains affecting and potent. Channeling celebrity culture as well as the slick appearance and aspirations of the entertainment capital, Israel approaches his hometown with an uncanny coupling of local familiarity and anthropological curiosity. His work alludes to both California cool and calculated brand creation, embracing clichés and styles that exude the hygienic optimism endemic to the local scene.
Israel was born in 1982 in Los Angeles. He received a BA in 2003 from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, and an MFA in 2010 from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Israel’s works are in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Recent solo exhibitions include the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City (2012); Alex Israel: Lens, LA><ART, Los Angeles (2013); Le Consortium, Dijon, France (2013); Alex Israel at The Huntington, Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California (2015); Sightings: Alex Israel, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2015–16); #AlexIsrael, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2016); Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings, Jewish Museum, New York (2016–17); SPF-18, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2018); and Waves, Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria (2018).
Israel lives and works in Los Angeles.
Alex Israel: New Waves
An animated, short video by Alex Israel takes viewers on a visual journey through the ideas and imagery behind his latest exhibition in Hong Kong.
Alex Israel and Venus Lau
Alex Israel speaks with curator and writer Venus Lau about New Waves, his latest exhibition in Hong Kong. Israel reveals his spirit animal, discusses his love of Duchamp, and tells Lau about the process behind his newest works.
Alex Israel discusses his feature-length film with Derek Blasberg.
Alex Israel / Bret Easton Ellis
Hans Ulrich Obrist interviews the artist and writer about their recent collaboration.
Diana Widmaier Picasso, curator of the exhibition Desire, reflects on the history of eroticism in art.
Art Basel Hong Kong 2021
May 21–23, 2021, booth 1d30
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong with a presentation of modern and contemporary painting and sculpture by gallery artists. New paintings by Georg Baselitz, Alex Israel, Ed Ruscha, and Sarah Sze are featured alongside exceptional works in a range of mediums by Louise Bonnet, Theaster Gates, Henry Moore, Nam June Paik, and others, uncovering formal and conceptual innovations and associations that span genres and aesthetic approaches.
Georg Baselitz, Noch ein Orangenesser, 2020 © Georg Baselitz
Ice and Fire: A Benefit Exhibition in Three Parts
October 15, 2020–March 23, 2021
The benefit exhibition Ice and Fire features works by more than forty artists who have enduring relationships with the Kitchen in New York. Installed within the organization’s three-story space in Chelsea, which is currently closed due to the global pandemic, the three-part exhibition is viewable online. Proceeds from sales will go toward a planned renovation on the occasion of the Kitchen’s fiftieth anniversary, ensuring that the nonprofit space will remain a platform for artistic experimentation in its historic and beloved building. Work by Cecily Brown, Roe Ethridge, Mark Grotjahn, Alex Israel, Ed Ruscha, Taryn Simon, Mary Weatherford, and Christopher Wool is included.
Mark Grotjahn, Untitled (Capri 53.57), 2020 © Mark Grotjahn
Artist Plate Project
Coalition for the Homeless
November 16–December 14, 2020
Gagosian is pleased to support the Coalition for the Homeless’s Artist Plate Project fundraiser. Artwork by fifty artists, including Cecily Brown, Katharina Grosse, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Sarah Sze, Andy Warhol, Jonas Wood, and Christopher Wool, is featured on limited-edition dinner plates produced by Prospect and made available through Artware Editions to support the Coalition’s lifesaving programs. All of the funds raised by the sale of the plates will provide food, crisis services, housing, and other critical aid to thousands of people experiencing homelessness and instability. The purchase of one plate can feed seventy-five homeless and hungry New Yorkers.
Katharina Grosse, Shake Before Using, 2020 © Katharina Grosse and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Germany 2020
Art and the Studio System
November 7, 2019–March 1, 2020
Yuz Museum, Shanghai
In Production: Art and the Studio System emphasizes the overlapping histories of visual art and film, with a particular focus on how the site of the studio, both in visual arts and in cinematic production, has radically shifted in the last twenty years. The exhibition highlights the exceptional gifts and acquisitions related to film and video that have entered the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s permanent collection in recent years including work by Piero Golia, Douglas Gordon, Alex Israel, and Mike Kelley.
Douglas Gordon, Déjà-Vu, 2000 , installation view, Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles. Artwork © Studio lost but found/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020 . D.O.A., 1950, USA. Directed by Rudolph Maté. Produced by Joseph H. Nadel, Harry M. Popkin, and Leo C. Popkin. Distributed by United Artists © Cardinal Pictures. Photo: Brian Forrest
Feel the Sun in Your Mouth
August 24, 2019–February 2, 2020
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
This exhibition brings together artworks acquired by the museum over the past five years with a focus on art that incites sensation and demonstrates a renewed interest in sublime encounters with the world. Spanning a period of extreme technological growth that has led us from the first steps on the moon to the development of the Internet, this exhibition illuminates a return to the poetic, the intuitive, and the cosmic in current artistic practice. Work by Alex Israel, Tatiana Trouvé, and Mary Weatherford is included.
Mary Weatherford, Engine, 2014, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC © Mary Weatherford
June 8–August 31, 2019
MAMO–Marseille Modulor, France
Alex Israel at MAMO occupies the rooftop deck and former gymnasium of Le Corbusier’s iconic Cité Radieuse. Inspired by Marseille’s gritty history and the architect’s use of concrete, Alex Israel has reimagined the building as Gotham City, and as a temporary home for two new works appropriated from Tim Burton’s Batman (1989). Continuing the artist’s ongoing exploration of rented film props as readymade sculpture, the Batmobile serves as the centerpiece of an installation with smoke, light, and sound, while the Bat-Signal, projected high above the city, activates the night sky throughout the summer.
Installation view, Alex Israel, MAMO–Marseille Modulor, France, June 8–August 31, 2019. Artwork © Alex Israel
Alex Israel × Snapchat
June 17–21, 2019
Le Centre d’art La Malmaison, Cannes, France
Invited to collaborate with Snap’s advanced augmented reality (AR) team, Alex Israel has expanded his multidisciplinary practice through the creation of five new experiences, each linked to one of his Self-Portrait paintings. These five “Snap-Portraits,” unleashed in the user’s smartphone, overlay Snap’s groundbreaking AR onto Israel’s physical works to give viewers an entirely new experience of painting.
© Alex Israel