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Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse, 2023 Oil and acrylic on muslin, 80 × 57 inches (203.2 × 144.8 cm)© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse, 2023

Oil and acrylic on muslin, 80 × 57 inches (203.2 × 144.8 cm)
© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, I Dreamt of a Cornucopia Stairway from Which Ghostly Comedians Were Descending., 2023 Oil and acrylic on muslin, 96 × 108 inches (243.8 × 274.3 cm)© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, I Dreamt of a Cornucopia Stairway from Which Ghostly Comedians Were Descending., 2023

Oil and acrylic on muslin, 96 × 108 inches (243.8 × 274.3 cm)
© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, Cary Grant on Acid #2, 2022 Oil and acrylic on muslin, 84 × 64 inches (213.4 × 162.6 cm)© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, Cary Grant on Acid #2, 2022

Oil and acrylic on muslin, 84 × 64 inches (213.4 × 162.6 cm)
© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, Hanging Chad, 2022 Oil on muslin, 58 × 48 inches (147.3 × 121.9 cm)© Jim Shaw. Photo: Rob McKeever

Jim Shaw, Hanging Chad, 2022

Oil on muslin, 58 × 48 inches (147.3 × 121.9 cm)
© Jim Shaw. Photo: Rob McKeever

Jim Shaw, The Bay of Pigs Thing, 2022 Oil and acrylic on muslin, 48 × 77 inches (121.9 × 195.6 cm)© Jim Shaw. Photo: Rob McKeever

Jim Shaw, The Bay of Pigs Thing, 2022

Oil and acrylic on muslin, 48 × 77 inches (121.9 × 195.6 cm)
© Jim Shaw. Photo: Rob McKeever

Jim Shaw, I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise, 2022 Foam, Aqua-Resin, fiberglass, wood, plastic, and acrylic on muslin, 46 × 60 × 16 ½ inches (116.8 × 152.4 × 41.9 cm)© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise, 2022

Foam, Aqua-Resin, fiberglass, wood, plastic, and acrylic on muslin, 46 × 60 × 16 ½ inches (116.8 × 152.4 × 41.9 cm)
© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, Fried Egg Table I, 2022 Stained wood, 15 ¾ × 43 × 42 inches (40 × 109.2 × 106.7 cm), edition of 3© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, Fried Egg Table I, 2022

Stained wood, 15 ¾ × 43 × 42 inches (40 × 109.2 × 106.7 cm), edition of 3
© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, The Bridge, 2021 Acrylic on muslin, 48 × 60 inches (121.9 × 152.4 cm)© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, The Bridge, 2021

Acrylic on muslin, 48 × 60 inches (121.9 × 152.4 cm)
© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Lovely on the Water, 2021 Acrylic on muslin, 77 × 48 inches (195.6 × 121.9 cm)© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Lovely on the Water, 2021

Acrylic on muslin, 77 × 48 inches (195.6 × 121.9 cm)
© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Magical Thinking, 2020 Acrylic on muslin, 47 × 40 inches (119.4 × 101.6 cm)© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Magical Thinking, 2020

Acrylic on muslin, 47 × 40 inches (119.4 × 101.6 cm)
© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Study for Donald and Melania Descending into the Ninth Circle of Hell, 2020 Ink on paper, 19 × 48 inches (48.3 × 121.9 cm)© Jim Shaw. Photo: Brica Wilcox

Jim Shaw, Study for Donald and Melania Descending into the Ninth Circle of Hell, 2020

Ink on paper, 19 × 48 inches (48.3 × 121.9 cm)
© Jim Shaw. Photo: Brica Wilcox

Jim Shaw, Small Trump Chaos II, 2017 Silkscreen and acrylic on canvas, 39 ½ × 59 ½ inches (100.3 × 151.1 cm)© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Small Trump Chaos II, 2017

Silkscreen and acrylic on canvas, 39 ½ × 59 ½ inches (100.3 × 151.1 cm)
© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Not Since Superman Died, 2014 Acrylic on muslin, in 8 parts, Overall: 19 feet 8 ¼ inches × 22 feet 11 ⅝ inches × 53 feet 3 ¾ inches (6 × 7 × 16.3 m)© Jim Shaw. Photo: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano

Jim Shaw, Not Since Superman Died, 2014

Acrylic on muslin, in 8 parts, Overall: 19 feet 8 ¼ inches × 22 feet 11 ⅝ inches × 53 feet 3 ¾ inches (6 × 7 × 16.3 m)
© Jim Shaw. Photo: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano

Jim Shaw, Crouching Man With Little Figures, 2014 Colored pencil and ink on paper, 45 × 42 inches (114.3 × 106.7 cm)© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Crouching Man With Little Figures, 2014

Colored pencil and ink on paper, 45 × 42 inches (114.3 × 106.7 cm)
© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Mississippi River Mural, 2013 Acrylic on muslin and wood, 19 feet 2 inches × 40 feet × 6 feet (5.8 × 12.2 × 1.8 m)© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Mississippi River Mural, 2013

Acrylic on muslin and wood, 19 feet 2 inches × 40 feet × 6 feet (5.8 × 12.2 × 1.8 m)
© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Hair House, 2013 Synthetic hair, paverpol, fiberglass, urethane resin, plexiglass, and stainless steel, 64 × 20 × 11 inches (162.6 × 50.8 × 27.9 cm)© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Hair House, 2013

Synthetic hair, paverpol, fiberglass, urethane resin, plexiglass, and stainless steel, 64 × 20 × 11 inches (162.6 × 50.8 × 27.9 cm)
© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Forces of Nature/Hair, 2011 Ink on paper, 12 × 9 inches (30.5 × 22.9 cm)© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Forces of Nature/Hair, 2011

Ink on paper, 12 × 9 inches (30.5 × 22.9 cm)
© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Blake/Boring, 2010 Ink on paper, 19 × 24 inches (48.3 × 61 cm)© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, Blake/Boring, 2010

Ink on paper, 19 × 24 inches (48.3 × 61 cm)
© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, Ear Painting 2, 2007 Oil on canvas, 62 × 48 inches (157.5 × 121.9 cm)© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Ear Painting 2, 2007

Oil on canvas, 62 × 48 inches (157.5 × 121.9 cm)
© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Dream Drawing (I drove by a depressed country. . .), 1996 Graphite on paper, 12 × 9 inches (30.5 × 22.9 cm)© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, Dream Drawing (I drove by a depressed country. . .), 1996

Graphite on paper, 12 × 9 inches (30.5 × 22.9 cm)
© Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, My Mirage Logo #3, 1989 Silkscreen on paper, 17 ¼ × 14 ¼ inches (43.8 × 36.2 cm), edition of 50© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, My Mirage Logo #3, 1989

Silkscreen on paper, 17 ¼ × 14 ¼ inches (43.8 × 36.2 cm), edition of 50
© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Untitled, 1977 Pastel, gouache, ink, and spray paint collaged on paper, 20 × 26 inches (50.8 × 66 cm)© Jim Shaw

Jim Shaw, Untitled, 1977

Pastel, gouache, ink, and spray paint collaged on paper, 20 × 26 inches (50.8 × 66 cm)
© Jim Shaw

About

I want there to be things in my work that people can access, but also hidden secrets.
—Jim Shaw

Over the past three decades, Jim Shaw has responded to American cultural history through painting, drawing, and sculpture. He has found inspiration in comic books, pulp novels, rock albums, protest posters, and amateur paintings; his ever-growing collection of found artworks has also been the subject of several exhibitions in its own right. Often unfolding in extended narrative cycles marked by repetition and cross-reference, Shaw’s works juxtapose images of friends and family with those depicting world events, pop-cultural phenomena, and alternative realities, blending the personal, the commonplace, and the visionary. Committed to undoing any sense of aesthetic or ideological purity, Shaw has turned consistently to his own life—particularly his unconscious mind—as a source of inspiration.

Shaw was born in 1952 in Midland, Michigan, and lives and works in Los Angeles. In 1971, he enrolled at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he met artist Mike Kelley. The pair would sometimes advertise fake lectures, treating attendees to “guerilla style” performances instead. In 1974, Shaw graduated from UM with a BFA and cofounded proto-punk band Destroy All Monsters (DAM) with filmmaker Cary Loren and artist Niagara. At the time, Shaw lived with Kelley in a house they named “God’s Oasis,” which served as the band’s rehearsal space. He later contributed to an eponymous zine, Destroy All Monsters Magazine, published by Loren between 1976 and 1979, that explored the mythology of DAM still further. In 1978, Shaw earned an MFA from California Institute of the Arts; he then worked in the film industry before gaining recognition as a visual artist in the mid-1980s.

In the late 1970s, Shaw drew inspiration from William Burroughs—who would become an ongoing influence—and his “cut-up” technique of textual collage to begin Distorted Faces, a series of portrait paintings and drawings in which the features of celebrities and politicians, friends and strangers are twisted into their monstrous doubles. His first major project, My Mirage (1986–91), was a more complex undertaking. A series of 170 images rendered in a variety of styles, it traces the adventures of a middle-class white boy named Billy—Shaw’s alter ego—as he experiences sex, drugs, rock and roll, and religion in 1960s and ’70s America. Another series, Dream Drawings (1992–99), presents uncanny scenes, derived from the artist’s own dream life, in a comic-strip format, while Dream Objects (1994–) manifests selected items from these nocturnal visions as unsettling, cartoonlike sculptures.

Shaw’s ongoing project Oism, which he initiated in the late 1990s, is an artistic attempt to create and promote a functioning religion, complete with its own history and symbolism, rituals and traditions. The enterprise reflects Shaw’s extensive research into the messianic cults active in the Bible Belt and has fueled a kaleidoscopic array of artworks-cum-artifacts. Having grown to include paintings, photographs, sculptures, collages, posters, films, and musical instruments, the accumulation has become even more sophisticated than was originally envisioned, incorporating historical context to arrive at a near-encyclopedic review of abolitionist, evangelical, spiritualist, and utopian currents in American culture.

In 1999, Shaw had his first major European retrospective at the Casino Luxembourg and Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva; the following year, Thrift Store Paintings opened at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, revealing entries from his frequently hilarious and horrifying collection of canvases by unknown amateur artists. In 2013, Chalet Society, Paris, presented The Hidden World, another display drawn from his personal archives that focused on “didactic art”—books, flyers, T-shirts, and other artifacts aimed at promoting various wildly eccentric belief systems. In 2015, a sprawling survey exhibition dubbed The End Is Here—its title reprising that of his MFA thesis exhibition at CalArts—opened at the New Museum, New York.

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Gagosian’s booth at ART SG 2024. Artwork, left to right: © ADAGP, Paris, 2024, © Jonas Wood, © Rick Lowe Studio. Photo: Ringo Cheung

Art Fair

ART SG 2024

January 19–21, 2024, booth BC06
Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore
artsg.com

Gagosian is pleased to participate in the second edition of ART SG, with a selection of works by international contemporary artists including Harold Ancart, Georg Baselitz, Ashley Bickerton, Amoako Boafo, Dan Colen, Edmund de Waal, Nan Goldin, Lauren Halsey, Hao Liang, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Tetsuya Ishida, Alex Israel, Donald Judd, Y.Z. Kami, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Rick Lowe, Takashi Murakami, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Nam June Paik, Ed Ruscha, Jim Shaw, Alexandria Smith, Spencer Sweeney, Stanley Whitney, Jonas Wood, and Zeng Fanzhi. The works on view, which embrace a wide variety of subjects and approaches, find artists infusing traditional genres such as history painting, portraiture, and landscape with new and surprising ideas that traverse cultural and temporal boundaries. 

Gagosian’s booth at ART SG 2024. Artwork, left to right: © ADAGP, Paris, 2024, © Jonas Wood, © Rick Lowe Studio. Photo: Ringo Cheung

Jim Shaw. Photo: Max Farago

Screening and Talk

Jim Shaw’s Monsters

Sunday, July 23, 2023, 2–9pm
Brain Dead Studios, Los Angeles
studios.wearebraindead.com

In collaboration with KaleidoscopeJim Shaw has curated a film program titled Monsters to celebrate his cover story in the spring/summer 2023 issue of the magazine. Held at Brain Dead Studios—an experiential space hosted in a former silent movie theater—this spine-chilling program stems directly from the artist’s childhood memories, featuring three horror movies that embrace the surreal, the sci-fi, and the supernatural. To kick off the screenings, Shaw will be in conversation with Gagosian director Jessica Beck to discuss his recent paintings, which reanimate mythological themes through incidents from political history and popular entertainment. The works were shown at Gagosian, Beverly Hills, and will be documented in an exhibition catalogue featuring an essay by Beck to be published in August 2023. The event is free to attend.

2pm: Jim Shaw in conversation with Jessica Beck
3pm: The Electronic Monster (1958), directed by Montgomery Tully
5pm: The Mask (1961), directed by Julian Roffman
7pm: 13 Ghosts (1960), directed by William Castle

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Jim Shaw. Photo: Max Farago

Jadé Fadojutimi, As usual, the season’s showers tend to linger, 2023 © Jadé Fadojutimi

Art Fair

Art Basel Hong Kong 2023

March 22–25, 2023
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
www.artbasel.com

Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong 2023 with a presentation of modern and contemporary works by international artists.

Jadé Fadojutimi, As usual, the season’s showers tend to linger, 2023 © Jadé Fadojutimi

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Museum Exhibitions

Jim Shaw, The Alexander Romances, 2024 (detail) © Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

On View

Janus

Through November 24, 2024
Palazzo Diedo, Venice
berggruenarts.org

Janus, appropriately titled after the Roman god of beginnings, is the inaugural exhibition at Palazzo Diedo, a new contemporary arts space in Venice established by Berggruen Arts & Culture. For the exhibition, curated by Mario Codognato, eleven international artists—Urs Fischer, Piero Golia, Carsten Höller, Liu We, Ibrahim Mahama, Mariko Mori, Sterling RubyJim ShawHiroshi Sugimoto, Aya Takano, and Lee Ufan—have conceived site-specific interventions in response to the architecture and original features of the eighteenth-century building designed by the acclaimed Venetian architect Andrea Tirali. The Polaroid Foundation has also contributed a special project that invites the participating artists to create an original work using the Polaroid 20×24, the world’s largest instant camera.

Jim Shaw, The Alexander Romances, 2024 (detail) © Jim Shaw. Photo: Jeff McLane

Installation view, Jim Shaw: The Ties That Bind, Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, Belgium, February 9–May 19, 2024. Artwork © Jim Shaw. Photo: Kristien Daem

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Jim Shaw
The Ties That Bind

February 9–May 19, 2024
Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, Belgium
www.muhka.be

The Ties That Bind explores Jim Shaw’s work from the last five decades, which has at once anticipated and mirrored shifts in the American cultural and political landscape during this period. In recent decades, the artist’s work has increasingly highlighted the growing tension between conservative and progressive ideologies. The exhibition presents drawings, paintings, photographs, and immersive installations that bring to light the core motifs of Shaw’s practice.

Installation view, Jim Shaw: The Ties That Bind, Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, Belgium, February 9–May 19, 2024. Artwork © Jim Shaw. Photo: Kristien Daem

Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Someday, 2018, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles © Nathaniel Mary Quinn. Photo: Jeff McLane

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Ecstatic
Selections from the Hammer Contemporary Collection

June 10–August 27, 2023
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
hammer.ucla.edu

Presented in conjunction with the unveiling of the Hammer’s building expansion, Ecstatic highlights acquisitions made since 2005—the year the institution began collecting contemporary art. The exhibition is organized around two distinct installations of sculpture and works on paper that emphasize the role each medium plays within the scope of the museum’s collection. Work by Mark Grotjahn, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, and Jim Shaw is included.

Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Someday, 2018, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles © Nathaniel Mary Quinn. Photo: Jeff McLane

Jim Shaw, Anatomy Weird-ohs (Can opener; Blake-St. Sebastian Crystal & Fish Face), 2011, Frac Normandie Caen, France © Jim Shaw. Photo: Clérin-Morin Photographie

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Hippydrome

April 30–September 4, 2022
Frac Normandie Caen, France
www.fracnormandiecaen.fr

This exhibition brings together a selection of “interior landscapes” and portraits of the world in miniature that share an eccentric or fantastic sensibility, loosely linking them to Surrealism. Work by Jim Shaw and Blair Thurman is included.

Jim Shaw, Anatomy Weird-ohs (Can opener; Blake-St. Sebastian Crystal & Fish Face), 2011, Frac Normandie Caen, France © Jim Shaw. Photo: Clérin-Morin Photographie

See all Museum Exhibitions for Jim Shaw