Because I have an active and obsessive eye‚ I’m interested in finding as much contentment as I possibly can. In my work I create problems and then solve them in order to feel peace.
Mark Grotjahn combines gesture and geometry with abstraction and figuration in visually dynamic paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. Each of his series reflects a range of art-historical influences and unfolds in almost obsessive permutations.
Grotjahn was born in Pasadena, California. He received a BFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an MFA from the University of California at Berkeley. While studying in California, he began his first major project, Sign Exchange (1993–98), in which he painted replicas of signs that he saw in stores around Los Angeles, then had the store owners display his hand-painted versions in place of the originals. In 1995 Grotjahn was an artist-in-residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Madison, Maine. He moved to Los Angeles a year later and, with his classmate Brent Petersen, opened the short-lived gallery Room 702.
In 2001 Grotjahn began the Butterfly series. These geometric paintings and drawings explore the constructs of dual and multi-point perspective and take on various forms as Grotjahn alters their composition and color. A selection of multicolored and monochromatic Butterfly works on paper were exhibited in 2005 at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. In 2018 the Los Angeles County Museum of Art presented 50 Kitchens (2013–18), from the same series, a work with more than fifty parts that all evolved from a single composition and incorporate residual traces of earlier drawings. Continuing his investigations of symmetry, perspective, and form, Grotjahn began the Face paintings in 2003. These expressive, anthropomorphic works of cardboard on canvas often feature sections cut away to reveal painted canvas beneath. As the series progresses, the faces become less apparent and more abstract, their curved lines creating void-like apertures.
Alongside his painting practice, Grotjahn has been making masks since 2000, painting cardboard boxes lying around his studio and affixing paper tubes between cut-out “eyes.” The Masks (c. 2000– ), although originally approached as a less formal project, came to assert themselves as a new armature for his painting. In 2010 Grotjahn started casting the Masks in bronze. In many of the sculptures, he incorporated and retained remnants of the bronze casting process, such as the sprues and runners, into his final work. As he does with his paintings, Grotjahn often boldly signs the Masks, allowing his signature to come forward as a compositional element. In 2014 the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas presented the first museum exhibition of Grotjahn’s sculpture, including small-scale and larger freestanding works.
In 2016 Grotjahn began the Capri works (2016– ), seeking to break away from the Face paintings in favor of a more experimental, spontaneous working process. The first Capri works, New Capri, were modestly scaled paintings created for a private presentation at Casa Malaparte in Capri, Italy. Following this exhibition, Grotjahn created the larger Capri paintings (2016– ), followed by the Free Capri series (2018– ), in which he introduced the technique of scraping out areas of thick paint, then placing the slug-like masses in rows and grids elsewhere on the canvas.
As the Butterflies, Faces, Masks, and Capri series continue to expand, Grotjahn uses Instagram to further experiment with repetition and juxtaposition, employing the grid format to freely arrange images in different combinations, in a form of visual tic-tac-toe. Throughout his work, by finding variations within his immediately identifiable style, Grotjahn reveals the complexities of authorial gesture.
New Capri, Capri, Free Capri
October 30–December 22, 2018
West 24th Street, New York
June 24–September 17, 2016
Grosvenor Hill, London
Extended through March 12, 2016
Untitled (Captain America)
January 19–March 12, 2016
980 Madison Avenue, New York
September 13–October 27, 2012
980 Madison Avenue, New York
May 30–July 31, 2009
Britannia Street, London
Dancing Black Butterflies
February 26–March 11, 2008
980 Madison Avenue, New York
Fairs, Events & Announcements
Art Basel Hong Kong
March 29–31, 2018, booth ICI8
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong. To view highlights from the booth in advance of the fair visit www.artsy.com. Our presentation will include works by Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, Glenn Brown, Alexander Calder, John Currin, Willem de Kooning, Edmund De Waal, Jean Dubuffet, Urs Fischer, Lucio Fontana, Walton Ford, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Jia Aili, Anish Kapoor, Yves Klein, Karen Kneffel, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, Roy Lichtenstein, Takashi Murakami, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, and Zeng Fanzhi. Tickets are available at www.artbasel.com.
Zeng Fanzhi, 8, 2018 © Zeng Fanzhi 2018
January 11–14, 2018, booth 209
Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
Gagosian is pleased to participate in FOG Design+Art Fair 2018, presenting a selection of works by Davide Balula, Alexander Calder, Helen Frankenthaler, Piero Golia, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Houseago, Mike Kelley, Giuseppe Penone, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Taryn Simon, Jeff Wall, and others.
Mark Grotjahn, Untitled (African II, Gated Front and Back Mask M44.e), 2015 © Mark Grotjahn. Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio
Art Basel Miami Beach
December 7–10, 2017, booth D7
Miami Beach Convention Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Miami Beach 2017, presenting a selection of works by modern and contemporary artists including:
Richard Artschwager, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cecily Brown, Glenn Brown, John Chamberlain, Dan Colen, John Currin, Urs Fischer, Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Alex Israel, Neil Jenney, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Adam McEwen, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Frank Stella, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Robert Therrien, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, Tom Wesselmann, and Christopher Wool.
Tickets are available at www.artbasel.com.
Tom Wesselmann, Smoker #11, 1973 © The Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York
May 20–August 19, 2018
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Mark Grotjahn has made his Butterfly compositions since 2002; the latest of these is 50 Kitchens (2013–18), which is being exhibited at LACMA for the first time. Conceived as one work, 50 Kitchens takes its inspiration from a single composition that Grotjahn made to meet the dimensional specifications of a wall in his kitchen. The more than fifty subsequent chromatic drawings explore pairs of radiating colors and together create a prismatic display.
Installation view, Mark Grotjahn: 50 Kitchens, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, May 20–August 19, 2018. Artwork © Mark Grotjahn. Photo: Museum Associates/LACMA
The Marciano Collection
May 25–September 16, 2017
Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles
Unpacking: The Marciano Collection is the debut presentation of the collection’s holdings organized by Philipp Kaiser. The title and theme of the show are derived from Walter Benjamin’s essay “Unpacking My Library,” in which he discusses the chaotic potentiality inherent in unpacking and recontextualizing one’s collection. Work by Mark Grotjahn, Thomas Houseago, Alex Israel, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Sterling Ruby, Cindy Sherman, Franz West, Jonas Wood, and Christopher Wool is included.
Photo by Robert Wedemeyer