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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

What is crucial to my making of a language and a cosmology of signs is the type of repetition that is central to a lot of the music I am listening to right now. . . . I start off with a limited class of signs and, like stacking in music, I chop and revisit the changes to build structure.
—Ellen Gallagher

Through processes of accretion, erasure, and extraction, Ellen Gallagher has invented a densely saturated visual language in which overlapping patterns, motifs, and materials pulse with life. By fusing narrative modes including poetry, film, music, and collage, she recalibrates the tensions between reality and fantasy—unsettling designations of race and nation, art and artifact, and allowing the familiar and the arcane to converge.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Gallagher attended Oberlin College, Ohio; artist Michael Skop’s private art school Studio 70; the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (graduating in 1992 and receiving a traveling scholar award in 1993); and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine (1993). Her interests in these years spanned across disciplines and time periods, including oceanography, microscopic life, popular media, the poetics of Black vernacular language, and the formal geometries of postwar abstraction. In her first major body of work, made in the mid-1990s, Gallagher applied penmanship paper to canvas in uneven grids, filling the pages with small repeated pairs of stylized lips that she both drew and printed in blue ink. These works thus hinged the aesthetics of 1960s Minimalism to racist minstrelsy and blackface physiognomy. Other biomorphic forms (eyes, tongues, and hair) appear in abstract clusters throughout her oeuvre.

In 1998 Gallagher produced a small group of black monochromatic paintings as a direct response to the critical interpretations of her previous works. Starting again with squares of paper on canvas, she added more geometric shapes, creating a textured terrain that she built up with cut rubber. She further inscribed and collaged aleatory motifs from mid-century American race magazines and other sources, then painted the canvas in layers of black enamel. With this thick, reflective surface, Gallagher suggests that the psychosis of race relations is embedded in the history of Western abstraction.

Gallagher was awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Art in 2000 and began her ongoing Watery Ecstatic (2001–) series the following year. In Watery Ecstatic, she invents complex biomorphic forms that she relates to the mythical Drexciya, an undersea kingdom populated by the women and children who were the tragic casualties of the transatlantic slave trade. Cutting into thick paper in her own version of scrimshaw—the practice of carving whale bones—Gallagher invests the afterlives of the Middle Passage with a sense of material control, her intense focus giving rise to new peripheries. Drexciya is featured again in Gallagher’s film installation Murmur (2003–04), made in collaboration with Dutch artist Edgar Cleijne. Combining celluloid film with computer animation, Gallagher and Cleijne developed an aesthetic that emerges from the intersection of archival sources, fiction, and memory.

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Ellen Gallagher

Photo: Philippe Vogelenzang

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Edgar Cleijne and Ellen Gallagher, Osedax, 2010 (still) © Edgar Cleijne and Ellen Gallagher

Visit

Dhaka Art Summit

February 7–15, 2020
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka
www.dhakaartsummit.org

William Forsythe and Ellen Gallagher are participating in Dhaka Art Summit 2020: Seismic Movements. Over nine days, five hundred artists, scholars, curators, and thinkers will join in panel discussions, performances, and symposia addressing the theme: “What is a movement and how do we ignite one beyond the confines of an art exhibition?” The event is free and open to the public. 

Edgar Cleijne and Ellen Gallagher, Osedax, 2010 (still) © Edgar Cleijne and Ellen Gallagher

Tom Wesselmann, Sunset Nude with Wesselmann Still Life, 2004 © The Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by ARS/VAGA, New York

Art Fair

Art Basel Miami Beach 2019

December 5–8, 2019, booth D7
Miami Beach Convention Center
www.artbasel.com

Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Miami Beach 2019 with modern and contemporary artworks by Richard Avedon, Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, John Chamberlain, John Currin, Edmund de Waal, Rachel Feinstein, Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellen Gallagher, Theaster Gates, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Jennifer Guidi, Simon Hantaï, Damien Hirst, Alex Israel and Bret Easton Ellis, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Peter MarinoAdam McEwenJoan MitchellTakashi MurakamiAlbert OehlenSteven ParrinoPablo Picasso, Rudolf Polanszky, Richard PrinceSterling RubyEd RuschaRichard SerraRudolf StingelCy TwomblyAndy WarholMary WeatherfordTom WesselmannJonas WoodChristopher Wool, and Zao Wou-Ki, among others.

To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at inquire@gagosian.com. To attend the fair, purchase tickets at www.artbasel.com.

Download the full press release (PDF)

Tom Wesselmann, Sunset Nude with Wesselmann Still Life, 2004 © The Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by ARS/VAGA, New York

Helen Frankenthaler, Eight in a Square, 1961 © 2019 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Art Fair

ART021 Shanghai 2019

November 9–10, 2019, booth C02
Shanghai Exhibition Center
www.art021.org

Gagosian is pleased to participate in ART021 Shanghai 2019, presenting works by Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellen Gallagher, Theaster Gates, Katharina Grosse, Simon Hantaï, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Robert Indiana, Jia Aili, Jeff Koons, Grant Levy-Lucero, Takashi Murakami, Nam June Paik, Ed Ruscha, Taryn Simon, Pierre Soulages, Rudolf Stingel, Sarah Sze, Mary Weatherford, and Tom Wesselmann, among others.

To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at inquire@gagosian.com.

Download the full press release in English (pdf), Simplified Chinese (pdf), or Traditional Chinese (pdf)

Helen Frankenthaler, Eight in a Square, 1961 © 2019 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Museum Exhibitions

Installation view, Untitled, 2020, Punta della Dogana, Venice, March 22–December 13, 2020. Artwork © Thomas Houseago. Photo: Marco Cappelletti/DSL Studio

On View

Untitled, 2020

Through December 13, 2020
Punta della Dogana, Venice
www.palazzograssi.it

Conceived and curated by Thomas Houseago, Muna El Fituri, and Caroline Bourgeois, Untitled, 2020 places into dialogue works in a broad range of media by more than sixty artists held by the Pinault Collection, international museums, and private collections. The exhibition centers around a re-creation of Houseago’s studio in Tadao Ando’s cube room, in the heart of Punta della Dogana. Work by Ellen Gallagher, Duane Hanson, Mike Kelley, Henry Moore, and Nam June Paik is included.

Installation view, Untitled, 2020, Punta della Dogana, Venice, March 22–December 13, 2020. Artwork © Thomas Houseago. Photo: Marco Cappelletti/DSL Studio

Edgar Cleijne and Ellen Gallagher, Osedax, 2010 (still) © Edgar Cleijne and Ellen Gallagher

On View

Ellen Gallagher in
Other.Worldly

Through January 3, 2021
Fries Museum, Leeuwarden, Netherlands
www.friesmuseum.nl

Delving into the underwater world in all its aspects, this large-scale exhibition features artworks that explore the beauty and mystery of this unknown territory, as well as the environmental dangers that currently threaten it. Work by Ellen Gallagher is included.

Edgar Cleijne and Ellen Gallagher, Osedax, 2010 (still) © Edgar Cleijne and Ellen Gallagher

On View

Riffs and Relations
African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition

Through January 3, 2021
Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
www.phillipscollection.org

This exhibition presents works by African American artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries alongside works by European artists from the early twentieth century. The show aims to examine cross-cultural conversations and presents the divergent works that reflect these complex dialogues. Work by Ellen Gallagher and Pablo Picasso is included.

Giuseppe Penone, Propagazione (Propagation), 2020 © Giuseppe Penone/2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Mauro Del Papa

On View

La rivoluzione siamo noi
Collezionismo italiano contemporaneo

Through January 10, 2021
XNL Piacenza Contemporanea, Italy
www.xnlpiacenza.it

XNL Piacenza Contemporanea, a new cultural center dedicated to contemporary art, presents its inaugural exhibition, whose title translates to We Are the Revolution: Contemporary Italian Collecting. The show features more than 150 works from eighteen of the most important art collections in Italy. Giuseppe Penone is creating a site-specific piece for the exhibition, and work by Urs Fischer, Ellen Gallagher, Piero Manzoni, and Andy Warhol is also included.

Giuseppe Penone, Propagazione (Propagation), 2020 © Giuseppe Penone/2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Mauro Del Papa

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Press

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