Jordan Wolfson is known for his provocative work in a range of mediums, including sculpture, installation, video, photography, digital animation, and performance. Filtering the languages of online and broadcast media through digital and mechanical technologies—and employing an array of invented characters—he crafts enigmatic narratives that explore uncomfortable social and existential topics. Wolfson has characterized this collage-like methodology as being derived from and focused on the “byproduct(s) of culture,” but he is more concerned with the psychological power of the uncanny and the confrontational than with any direct critique. In his most recent works, he contrasts the physical, virtual, and imaginary realms, examining the projection of internal impulses onto constructed selves and scenarios.
Wolfson was born 1980 in New York and lives and works in Los Angeles. In 2003 he received a BFA in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design, and in 2009 he received the Frieze Foundation’s Cartier Award, which assists an artist from outside the United Kingdom in realizing a major work at the Frieze Art Fair in London. In 2013, following institutional exhibitions worldwide including presentations at the Kunsthalle Zürich (2004); Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo, Italy (2007); Swiss Institute, New York (2008); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany (2011); and Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2012), the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium, organized Ecce Homo/le Poseur, the most comprehensive survey of his work to date. In 2016, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, hosted a further two-part solo survey exhibition, MANIC/LOVE/TRUTH/LOVE.
Wolfson’s key works include the video Animation, masks (2011), in which the artist takes a cultural stereotype to a conscious extreme, engaging in a deliberately solipsistic examination of the difficulty of human relationships, the media’s portrayal of ethnic groups, and the challenges of self-expression. In the immersive digital work Real Violence (2017)—which became a lightning rod for controversy at the 2017 Whitney Biennial—he examines the capacity of virtual reality to function as an authentic experience over which the viewer exercises moral authority. And in the multiscreen video installation Riverboat song (2017–18), he combines original digital animation with a disparate array of found video and music clips taken from YouTube and other online sources, adding a monologue in his own voice. The work’s cavalcade of avatars and excerpts results in an effectively disorienting juxtaposition of moods and aesthetics.
In 2018, the Broad, Los Angeles, presented Wolfson’s decade-defining sculpture Female Figure (2014), in which the animatronic form of a woman dressed in a negligee, boots, and witch mask dances seductively while speaking in the artist’s voice. Also in 2018, the Tanks at Tate Modern hosted the inaugural London presentation of Colored Sculpture (2016), an installation that incorporates the nightmarish figure—again animatronic—of a boy attached by long chains to the gallery ceiling, his violently unpredictable movements controlled by hidden motors. Through the use of facial recognition technology, the subjects of these works are able to meet the viewer’s gaze, reflecting the invasive character of surveillance, objectification, and control.
Photo: Martin Godwin
Picture Books: Sam Lipsyte and Jordan Wolfson
The third book published by Picture Books, an imprint organized by Emma Cline and Gagosian, is Sam Lipsyte’s Novella Friend of the Pod. Accompanying the text is a new artwork by Jordan Wolfson. In celebration of this forthcoming publication, Lipsyte and Wolfson speak with their mutual friend Joey Frank about the year 1993, eroticism and art, and what the proliferation of podcasts is doing to the ego.
Fairs, Events & Announcements
Art Basel Miami Beach 2022
December 1–3, 2022, booth D5
Miami Beach Convention Center
Gagosian is pleased to present a selection of modern and contemporary works at Art Basel Miami Beach 2022. Returning to Miami for the fair’s twentieth anniversary, the gallery is honored to have participated each year the fair has been held.
Gagosian’s booth at Art Basel Miami Beach 2022. Artwork, left to right: © Gerhard Richter; © Amoako Boafo; © Richard Prince; © 2022 Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Richard Diebenkorn Foundation; © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Stanley Whitney. Photo: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano
Thursday, October 20, 2022, 6:30pm
NeueHouse Hollywood, Los Angeles
Join Gagosian to celebrate the publication of Friend of the Pod by Sam Lipsyte with a reading by the author, followed by a conversation between Lipsyte and writer Geoff Dyer. Matched with an artwork by Jordan Wolfson, in the form of a printed poster, the book is the third release from Gagosian’s Picture Books, an imprint conceived by author Emma Cline and dedicated to publishing fiction by leading writers alongside contributions by celebrated contemporary artists.
Friend of the Pod introduces readers to Jason, a stalled Gen X playwright from Queens whose friend Nando lands him a job producing a podcast. But when Ted Goldsworthy, the aging but irrepressible host of Inter Alia, New Jersey, insists that Jason commutes to his house in the Garden State, his egomaniacal daughter Roanne begins to cast her spell. Wolfson’s photograph—a self-portrait of the artist clutching a smartphone as he shoots a selfie in a mirror—reflects on the psychological power of the confrontational and prompts consideration—as does Lipsyte’s fiction—of the ways in which new media further complicates the already myriad challenges of self-expression.
Sam Lipsyte, Friend of the Pod / Jordan Wolfson, Untitled (New York: Picture Books | Gagosian, 2022)
Art Basel 2022
June 16–19, 2022, hall 2, booth B15
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel 2022 with modern and contemporary works by gallery artists, as well as special entries in the Unlimited section of the fair.
Gagosian’s booth in the main section of the fair represents the full breadth and depth of the gallery’s programming through work by many of its represented artists. On view are new works by Mark Grotjahn, Rudolf Stingel, and Jonas Wood; works by newly represented artists including Ashley Bickerton, Rick Lowe, and Jordan Wolfson; and works by Theaster Gates and Brice Marden, both of whom are also exhibiting at other venues in Basel—Gagosian’s gallery at Rheinsprung 1 and Kunstmuseum Basel, respectively—during the fair.
To receive a pdf with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at email@example.com. To attend the fair, purchase tickets at artbasel.com.
Gagosian’s booth at Art Basel 2022. Artwork, left to right: © Brice Marden/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Succession Picasso 2022; © John Currin; © Jonas Wood; © Mark Tansey; © 2022 Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Ellsworth Kelly Foundation. Photo: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano
Meisterwerke Der Sammlung Frieder Burda Im Dialog Mit Künstlichen Wesen
Through April 30, 2023
Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, Germany
This exhibition, whose subtitle translates to Masterpieces of the Frieder Burda Collection in Dialogue with Artificial Beings, offers visitors the opportunity to meet artist-made avatars—human machines that are able to move, talk, and learn—and observe the richness of their movements, language, and responses. By juxtaposing these beings with key works from the museum’s collection, Transformers aims to create multidimensional experiences that reflect our increasingly artificially transformed world. Work by Willem de Kooning, Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter, and Jordan Wolfson is included.
Jordan Wolfson, Female Figure, 2014 © Jordan Wolfson. Photo: Markus Tretter, Kunsthaus Bregenz
December 9, 2023–April 28, 2024
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
This exhibition is the first solo presentation of Jordan Wolfson’s work in Australia and features the world premiere of Body Sculpture (2017–23), a recent major acquisition by the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Body Sculpture is a new animatronic work that combines sculpture and performance to generate emotional and physical responses in the viewer. It will be shown alongside a selection of earlier works by the artist, providing an overview of Wolfson’s practice, which probes difficult, often controversial topics and themes that underlie American culture and contemporary society.
Sean Sprague, Jordan Wolfson, 2020 © Sean Sprague
October 12–December 23, 2022
Brant Foundation Art Study Center, New York
Housed within a new artwork-specific room, this exhibition presents Jordan Wolfson’s decade-defining sculpture Female Figure (2014), in which the animatronic form of a woman dressed in a negligee, boots, and witch mask dances seductively while speaking in the artist’s voice. Through the use of facial recognition technology, this work is able to meet the viewer’s gaze, reflecting the invasive character of surveillance, objectification, and control.
Jordan Wolfson, Female Figure, 2014 © Jordan Wolfson
July 16–October 9, 2022
Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria
Jordan Wolfson is known for powerful and unsettling works in a range of mediums and formats that interrogate the conditions of art, technology, and mass media in contemporary life. Wolfson commandeers his motifs from the gaming industry, the Internet, comic strips, and facial recognition software. His works are anything but accommodating, his questions discomforting. This exhibition explores the questions, How are imagery and information processed? How do technologies infiltrate our thoughts and perceptions? What is our approach to such issues as sexism, racism, and homophobia? What are our fears doing to us?
Installation view, Jordan Wolfson, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, July 16–October 9, 2022. Artwork © Jordan Wolfson. Photo: Markus Tretter