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Ellen Gallagher

Ellen Gallagher, Odalisque, 2005 Gelatin silver print with watercolor and gold leaf, 15 ¼ × 14 ¼ inches framed (38.7 × 36.2 cm), edition of 15

Ellen Gallagher, Odalisque, 2005

Gelatin silver print with watercolor and gold leaf, 15 ¼ × 14 ¼ inches framed (38.7 × 36.2 cm), edition of 15

Installation view, Ellen Gallagher: AxME, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2014 Artwork © Ellen Gallagher. Photo: Wilfried Petzi

Installation view, Ellen Gallagher: AxME, Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2014

Artwork © Ellen Gallagher. Photo: Wilfried Petzi

Edgar Cleijne & Ellen Gallagher, Osedax, 2010

Edgar Cleijne & Ellen Gallagher, Osedax, 2010

Ellen Gallagher, Bird in Hand, 2006 Oil, pencil, gold, plasticine, gold leaf, and paper on canvas, 93 ¾ × 120 ⅞ inches (238 × 307 cm)

Ellen Gallagher, Bird in Hand, 2006

Oil, pencil, gold, plasticine, gold leaf, and paper on canvas, 93 ¾ × 120 ⅞ inches (238 × 307 cm)

Installation view of works by Ellen Gallagher, La Triennale—Intense Proximité, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2012 Artwork © Ellen Gallagher

Installation view of works by Ellen Gallagher, La Triennale—Intense Proximité, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2012

Artwork © Ellen Gallagher

Ellen Gallagher, Greasy, 2011 Ink, oil, graphite, and printed paper on canvas, 79 ½ × 74 inches (202 × 188 cm)

Ellen Gallagher, Greasy, 2011

Ink, oil, graphite, and printed paper on canvas, 79 ½ × 74 inches (202 × 188 cm)

Ellen Gallagher, An Experiment of Unusual Opportunity, 2008 Ink, graphite, oil, varnish, and cut paper on canvas, 79 ½ × 74 inches (202 × 188 cm)

Ellen Gallagher, An Experiment of Unusual Opportunity, 2008

Ink, graphite, oil, varnish, and cut paper on canvas, 79 ½ × 74 inches (202 × 188 cm)

Installation view, Ellen Gallagher: eXelento, Gagosian, West 24th Street, New York, 2004 Artwork © Ellen Gallagher

Installation view, Ellen Gallagher: eXelento, Gagosian, West 24th Street, New York, 2004

Artwork © Ellen Gallagher

Installation view, Ellen Gallagher: eXelento, Gagosian, West 24th Street, New York, 2004 Artwork © Ellen Gallagher

Installation view, Ellen Gallagher: eXelento, Gagosian, West 24th Street, New York, 2004

Artwork © Ellen Gallagher

Ellen Gallagher, Watery Ecstatic series, 2001 Ink, oil, pencil, and cut paper on paper, 22 ¼ × 30 inches (56.5 × 76.2 cm)

Ellen Gallagher, Watery Ecstatic series, 2001

Ink, oil, pencil, and cut paper on paper, 22 ¼ × 30 inches (56.5 × 76.2 cm)

Ellen Gallagher, They could still serve, 2001 Pigment, paper, and glue on linen, 120 × 96 inches (304.8 × 243.8 cm)

Ellen Gallagher, They could still serve, 2001

Pigment, paper, and glue on linen, 120 × 96 inches (304.8 × 243.8 cm)

Ellen Gallagher, Blubber, 2000 Ink, pencil, and paper on linen, 120 × 192 inches (304.8 × 487.7 cm)

Ellen Gallagher, Blubber, 2000

Ink, pencil, and paper on linen, 120 × 192 inches (304.8 × 487.7 cm)

Ellen Gallagher, Blubber, 2000 (detail) Ink, pencil, and paper on linen, 120 × 192 inches (304.8 × 487.7 cm)

Ellen Gallagher, Blubber, 2000 (detail)

Ink, pencil, and paper on linen, 120 × 192 inches (304.8 × 487.7 cm)

Ellen Gallagher, Blubber, 2000 (detail) Ink, pencil, and paper on linen, 120 × 192 inches (304.8 × 487.7 cm)

Ellen Gallagher, Blubber, 2000 (detail)

Ink, pencil, and paper on linen, 120 × 192 inches (304.8 × 487.7 cm)

About

From the outset of her career, Ellen Gallagher has brought together non-representational formal concerns and charged figuration in paintings, drawings, collages, and films that reveal themselves slowly, first as intricate abstractions, then later as unnerving stories. The tension sustained between minimalist abstraction and image-based narratives deriving from her use of found materials gives rise to a dynamic that posits the historical constructions of the “New Negro”—a central development of the Harlem Renaissance—with concurrent developments in modernist abstraction. In doing so, she points to the artificiality of the perceived schism between figuration and abstraction in art. Selecting from a wealth of popular ephemera—lined penmanship paper, magazine pages, journals, and advertising—as support for her paintings and drawings, Gallagher subjects the original elements and motifs to intense and laborious processes of transformation: accumulation, erasure, interruption, and interference. Like forensic evidence, only traces of their original state remain, veiled by inky saturation, smudges, staining, perforations, punctures, spills, abrasions, printed lettering and marking—all potent evocations and emanations of time and its materiality. This attained state of “un–knowing” fascinates Gallagher and is one of the primary themes in her work.

Ellen Gallagher was born in 1965 in Providence, Rhode Island. She attended Oberlin College, Ohio (1982–84); Studio 70, Fort Thomas, Kentucky (1989); School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts (1992); and Skowhegan School of Art, Maine (1993). Recent solo exhibitions include “Watery Ecstatic,” Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2001, traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, through 2002); “Preserve,” Des Moines Art Center, Iowa (2001, traveled to Yerba Buena Arts Center, San Francisco; and The Drawing Center, New York, through 2002); “POMP–BANG,” Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri (2003); “Murmur and DeLuxe,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2005); “Ichthyosaurus (inc. films with Edgar Cleijne),” Freud Museum (in collaboration with Hauser & Wirth, London), London (2005); “DeLuxe,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2005); “Coral Cities,” Tate Liverpool, England (2007, traveled to Dublin City Gallery, Dublin; and The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin); “An Experiment of Unusual Opportunity,” South London Gallery, London (2009); “AxME,” Tate Modern, London (2013, traveled to Sara Hildén Art Museum, Finland; and Haus der Kunst, Munich, through 2014); “Don’t Axe Me,” New Museum, New York (2013); “Ice or Salt,” SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (2013); and “AxME,” Haus der Kunst, Munich (2014). Gallagher participated in the Biennale di Venezia in 2003 and 2015, and was awarded the American Academy Award in Art in 2000.

Gallagher currently lives and works in New York and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Ellen Gallagher

Photo: Philippe Vogelenzang

From the Quarterly

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Ellen Gallagher, Watery Ecstatic, 2018 © Ellen Gallagher

Lecture

Oceanic Feelings in the Anthropocene
Ellen Gallagher’s Rising (Black) Atlantic

Monday, October 15, 2018, 6pm
Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut
www.weslyan.edu

Heather Vermeulen, a postdoctoral fellow at Wesleyan University, will speak on Ellen Gallagher’s series Watery Ecstatic (2001–) as it intervenes in scientific narratives surrounding the anthropocene. The event is free and open to the public.

Ellen Gallagher, Watery Ecstatic, 2018 © Ellen Gallagher

Ellen Gallagher, Watery Ecstatic, 2005 © Ellen Gallagher

Lecture

Ellen Gallagher
Are We Obsidian?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 6–9pm
Art Institute of Chicago
www.artic.edu

Ellen Gallagher will speak at the Art Institute of Chicago’s thirty-first annual A. James Speyer Memorial Lecture. The event celebrates a distinguished contemporary artist who is represented in the museum’s collection and honors former museum curator James Speyer.

Ellen Gallagher, Watery Ecstatic, 2005 © Ellen Gallagher

Ellen Gallagher, Watery Ecstatic, 2004 © Ellen Gallagher

Artist Talk

Critical Walk-through
Ellen Gallagher on Evolutionary Possibilities

Wednesday, July 25, 2018, 6:30–7:30pm
American Folk Art Museum, New York
www.folkartmuseum.org

Ellen Gallagher discusses her ongoing Watery Ecstatic series, featuring painted, carved, and collaged marine specimens that fit within an Afrofuturist narrative, while exploring how they relate to the scientific illustrations on view in the exhibition Charting the Divine Plan: The Art of Orra White Hitchcock (1796–1863). To attend the event, purchase tickets at folkartmuseum.org.

Ellen Gallagher, Watery Ecstatic, 2004 © Ellen Gallagher

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Museum Exhibitions

Ellen Gallagher, Odalisque, 2005 © Ellen Gallagher

Opening this Week

Ellen Gallagher in
Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today

October 24, 2018–February 10, 2019
Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York
wallach.columbia.edu

This exhibition explores the changing modes of representation of the black figure as central to the development of modern art. The models’ interactions with and influences on painters, sculptors, and photographers are highlighted through archival photographs, correspondence, and films. The artists featured in the exhibition depicted black subjects in a manner counter to typical representations of the period. Work by Ellen Gallagher is included.

Ellen Gallagher, Odalisque, 2005 © Ellen Gallagher

Ellen Gallagher, Watery Ecstatic, 2018 © Ellen Gallagher

Closing this Week

Ellen Gallagher in
Histórias afro-atlânticas

Through October 21, 2018
Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Brazil
masp.org.br

Museu de Arte de São Paulo and Instituto Tomie Ohtake have co-organized a major exhibition, which gathers a vast array of artworks and documents related to the “flows and reflows” (to use Pierre Verger’s famous expression) between Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Europe. Work by Ellen Gallagher is included.

Ellen Gallagher, Watery Ecstatic, 2018 © Ellen Gallagher

Ellen Gallagher, Untitled, 1999 © Ellen Gallagher

Just Opened

Ellen Gallagher
Are We Obsidian?

Through January 10, 2019
Art Institute of Chicago
www.artic.edu

Ellen Gallagher’s work blurs the boundaries between minimal abstraction and image-based narration, often incorporating material traces from pop culture and engaging issues of race and being. Work from her Negroes Battling in a Cave (2016) and Morphia (2008–12) are presented alongside important works by Gallagher from the Art Institute’s collection.

Ellen Gallagher, Untitled, 1999 © Ellen Gallagher

Ellen Gallagher, Untitled (4), 2000 © Ellen Gallagher

On View

Ellen Gallagher in
Second Look, Twice: Selections from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation

Through December 16, 2018
Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco
www.moadsf.org

This exhibition explores the work of fifteen critically acclaimed contemporary artists of African descent who have used the medium of printmaking to create vivid and abstracted works. Reveling in the brilliance of gestural compositions, abstract form, and pure color, the works in the show offer a rich look at the various ways in which many of these artists have employed printmaking as an exploratory means of dissemination and new possibility for formulation. Work by Ellen Gallagher is included.

Ellen Gallagher, Untitled (4), 2000 © Ellen Gallagher

See all Museum Exhibitions for Ellen Gallagher