There’s a physical component that I’m chasing—a sense of unease, or a sense of confusion, transcendence, bewilderment, titillation, humor.
Rooted in modern American grotesquerie, the work of Miami-based artist and filmmaker Harmony Korine has proven influential and divisive in equal measure. A lover of slapstick and vaudeville, he coined the term “mistakism” to describe his deployment of wayward aesthetics and non sequitur wit. Korine’s early appearances as a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman, introducing startled television viewers to a confrontational master of everyday beauty and repulsion, are the stuff of legend. In his paintings, drawings, assemblages, and movies, backwoods surrealism and narcotic abstraction collide to produce a perverse, disorienting vision.
Born in Bolinas, California, in 1973, Korine was raised on a commune before moving with his family to North Africa and settling, at age seven, in Nashville, Tennessee. Having started making art as a teenager—he once painted, at the car wash where he worked, a neon dragon inside Roy Orbison’s trunk—Korine attended film school at New York University. An encounter with photographer and filmmaker Larry Clark let him to write the screenplay for Clark’s controversial movie Kids (1995). He went on to direct Gummo (1997) and Julien Donkey-Boy (1999) before spending much of the next eight years “mowing lawns and shooting guns,” emerging only to write Clark’s 2002 feature Ken Park. Korine returned to directing in 2007 with Mister Lonely (codirected with his brother Avi Korine), also writing and directing Trash Humpers (2009), Spring Breakers (2012), and The Beach Bum (2019).
In 2004, Korine’s artwork was included in Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture, which traveled through 2009 from the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, to venues throughout the US and Europe. The exhibition featured Korine’s work alongside that of other artists, including Mark Gonzales, Barry McGee, and Chris Johanson, to whom the youth subcultures of skateboarding and graffiti were of critical significance. Also in 2009, Korine was the subject of an important solo exhibition, Pigxote, at Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, Nashville. The following years saw him exhibit periodically, with a major survey exhibition of his work taking place at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in 2017.
In paintings and mixed-media works that incorporate materials such as leftover household emulsion and old videotapes, Korine mirrors the deliberate confusion of staging and improvisation that characterizes his films, producing designs and images united by their hypnotic restlessness. In works that range from the swirling psychedelic grids of the Checking Madness series (2014) to those on display in his 2019 exhibition Young Twitchy, in which he fused photo-based and hand-drawn imagery, he is consistently driven by memory, emotion, and sensation as opposed to rational thought.
In the “fazor” paintings of 2016, Korine employs allover patterning to generate compositions in which repetition and looping, or “phasing,” generates a trancelike physiological reaction, an unmistakably psychotropic edge. In BLOCKBUSTER, a series of paintings from 2018, he makes more explicit reference to film by repurposing VHS cassettes and boxes acquired from a Nashville branch of the now-defunct titular rental chain, arranging them into grids and altering their covers, often by adding renderings of his ghostlike “friend” icon. Riffing off forgotten plots and actors, these works reflect with affection on a realm that is “nearly obsolete, lost in the fog of analog.”
Such projects join Korine’s efforts in other media—these include A Crackup at the Race Riots (Mainstreet/Doubleday, 1998), the artist’s attempt to write “the Great American Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Novel”—to reinforce an ongoing but aesthetically consistent movement between forms and genres. “It all comes from the same place, inside me,” he says, “and it’s all speaking the same language.”
Harmony Korine and Rita Ackermann
The artists chat about Korine’s luminous new paintings based on teddy bears, touching upon the color yellow, the fresh smell of gas, and the relationship among presidents, golf, and little stuffed animals.
Fashion and Art: Proenza Schouler
Derek Blasberg speaks with Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, the designers behind the New York fashion brand Proenza Schouler, about their influences and collaborations, from Mark Rothko to Harmony Korine.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2020
The Spring 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #412 (2003) on its cover.
Transcendent Criminal Dream
From Kids to his new film The Beach Bum, Harmony Korine has continually revolutionized the art of cinema. In a wide-ranging discussion with film critic Emmanuel Burdeau, Korine reflects on the rewards and challenges of filmmaking and reveals what’s in store for the future.
Harmony Korine: BLOCKBUSTER
The artist discusses his latest exhibition in New York with the Gagosian Quarterly, telling the story behind the works and their connection to his larger practice.
Harmony Korine at the Centre Pompidou
The artist sat down with Alicia Knock, curator of his exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, to discuss the power of mistakes, outsiders, and the marginal.
Fairs, Events & Announcements
January 12–15, 2023, booth BF05
Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore
Gagosian is pleased to announce the gallery’s participation in the inaugural edition of ART SG, with a selection of works by international contemporary artists including Banksy, Georg Baselitz, Ashley Bickerton, Edmund de Waal, Helen Frankenthaler, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Thomas Houseago, Tetsuya Ishida, Alex Israel, Jia Aili, Harmony Korine, Takashi Murakami, Nam June Paik, Giuseppe Penone, Ed Ruscha, Spencer Sweeney, Sarah Sze, Tatiana Trouvé, Anna Weyant, Jonas Wood, and Zeng Fanzhi.
Gagosian’s booth at ART SG 2023. Artwork, left to right: © Ashley Bickerton; © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2022; © Banksy; © Zeng Fanzhi; © 2020 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved. Photo: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano
West Bund Art & Design 2022
November 11–13, 2022, booth A102
West Bund Art Center, Shanghai
Gagosian is pleased to participate in the ninth edition of West Bund Art & Design. The gallery will present new works made for the fair by Georg Baselitz, Roe Ethridge, Thomas Houseago, Alex Israel, Harmony Korine, Adam McEwen, Jim Shaw, Alexandria Smith, Spencer Sweeney, and Tatiana Trouvé, alongside works by Ashley Bickerton, Urs Fischer, Katharina Grosse, Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, Nam June Paik, Richard Prince, Ugo Rondinone, Ed Ruscha, Richard Wright, and Zeng Fanzhi.
Gagosian’s booth at West Bund Art & Design 2022. Artwork, left to right: © Adam McEwen, © Roe Ethridge, © Alex Israel, © Harmony Korine. Photo: JJYPHOTO
Harmony Korine is available for online reading from March 16 through April 15 as part of Artist Spotlight: Harmony Korine. Published by Rizzoli in association with Gagosian and Centre Pompidou, Paris, this is the first comprehensive monograph on the cinema, art, writing, and creative world of Korine, the boundary-breaking auteur of Kids (1995), Gummo (1997), Mister Lonely (2007), and Spring Breakers (2012). An interview by film critic Emmanuel Burdeau and an extensive multipart essay by curator Alicia Knock trace common themes through Korine’s films and artworks, considering the ways in which he has captured the surreal quality of contemporary life.
Harmony Korine (New York: Rizzoli International Publications; Paris: Gagosian and Centre Pompidou, 2018)
Matt Black × Gana Art
November 1, 2019–January 5, 2020
Gana Art Center and Gana Art Hannam, Seoul
In collaboration with filmmaker Matt Black, this exhibition is centered around his short film series titled Reflections, which features conversations with contemporary artists. Through his interviews, Black paints a picture of the rapidly changing contemporary art scene, revealing the stories behind the artworks. Following the film’s theme, Gana Art has curated this exhibition to feature works by these artists, which include Dan Colen, Rachel Feinstein, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, Sterling Ruby, Taryn Simon, and Blair Thurman, among others.
Installation view, Reflections: Matt Black × Gana Art, Gana Art Center and Gana Art Hannam, Seoul, November 1, 2019–January 5, 2020. Artwork © Sterling Ruby
October 6–November 5, 2017
Centre Pompidou, Paris
A retrospective on the cinema, art, and creative world of Harmony Korine. The show gathers together many of his most significant projects, spanning film, writing, and art. Korine’s creative practice extends to photography and drawing as well as to figurative and abstract painting.
Installation view, Harmony Korine, Centre Pompidou, Paris, October 6–November 5, 2017. Artwork © Harmony Korine. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic
Shadows and Loops
November 4, 2016–January 16, 2017
Frist Art Museum, Nashville, Tennessee
This exhibition of work by Harmony Korine includes both figurative and abstract paintings. With their crude figures, rough surfaces, and distorted patterns, Korine’s paintings emphasize expression over nuance and instability over clarity.
Harmony Korine, Burst Manga, 2014 © Harmony Korine. Photo: Rob McKeever