Forging a unique and maverick path in the ebullient British art scene, Paul Noble received widespread international recognition for his vast and monumental drawing project Nobson Newtown. Drawing image after image, story after story—at once architect and town planner, archeologist and cartographer, social historian and activist, creator and destroyer—over the course of a decade Noble invented and described a melancholy urban vision somewhere between Claude-Nicolas Ledoux’s revolutionary utopias, SimCity, and the postapocalyptic wastelands pictured in the daily media. Nobson Newtown was Noble’s own fantasist master plan of a symbolic city, isometrically rendered and replete with all manner of nightmares, perversions, and scatological and libidinous excesses. A blocky, geometric font (also invented by the artist) structured many of the buildings themselves, providing yet another layer of meaning in this fascinating parody of contemporary society and the dreams of social engineers.
A meticulous and dedicated draftsman, Noble creates dizzyingly elaborate encrypted schemes, drawing from inspirations as diverse as ancient Chinese scrolls and Japanese sculptures, Fabergé eggs and brick walls, eighteenth-century pornography and animal rights literature, Hieronymous Bosch and Öyvind Fahlström. The sheer level of detail in his drawings defies the capacity of the eye to see and the mind to fully grasp them.
Noble was born in 1963 in Northumberland, England. He attended Sunderland Polytechnic, England, from 1982 to 1983 and Humberside College of Higher Education, Lincoln, England, from 1983 to 1986. Noble’s work has been part of numerous group exhibitions, including shows at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (2001); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2002); Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia (2003); New Museum, New York (2003); Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich (2003); Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (2003); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Mexico (2004); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (2005); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2005); Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York (2006); Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2009); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2010); Tate Britain, London (2010); Kunsthalle Münster, Germany (2010–11); Caterina Tognon Arte Contemporanea, Venice (2011); Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green, England (2014); and Marta Herford, Germany (2015). Recent solo museum exhibitions include the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich (2005); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2005); and Nobson, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2014).
Noble lives and works in London.
Paul Noble: Recent Drawings
An uncanny yet strangely familiar universe unfolds in Paul Noble’s recent drawings. On the occasion of simultaneous exhibitions featuring this body of work, Anna Heyward considers the world it conjures and its mysterious motifs.
At the Studio with Paul Noble
This video features interview footage alongside documentation of the artist’s intensive process, serving as a faithful chronicle of Noble’s latest efforts.
Fairs, Events & Announcements
Time draws . . .
Thursday, December 3, 2020, 8am EST (1pm BST)
Paul Noble will reimagine the duration, horizon, and captivating reverie of drawing in this online performance, featuring visuals, sound, and words choreographed by the artist. The event accompanies the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2020, an annual open call exhibition of drawing hosted by the Cooper Gallery at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee, Scotland, featuring over fifty artists. To attend the event, register at www.eventbrite.com.
Paul Noble’s studio, London, 2020
Art en Vieille-Ville Genève
Thursday, November 8, 2018, 6–9pm
19 place de Longemalle, Geneva
Gagosian is pleased to participate in the fall opening of Art en Vieille-Ville. The group exhibition Fire and Clay and works by Paul Noble will be on view to visitors after hours at our Geneva gallery.
Artwork, left and right: © Sterling Ruby; center: © Takuro Kuwata. Photo: Annik Wetter
Gagosian App for iPad
Gagosian announces the release of issue 3 of the Gagosian App for iPad on January 22, 2012. Artists featured in this issue include Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Paul Noble, Richard Prince, Jenny Saville, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, and Zeng Fanzhi.
In issue 3 we feature a Damien Hirst “art board” that explores more than ninety spot paintings, offer a 360˚ full-motion interactive experience of Richard Serra sculptures Junction (2011) and Cycle (2010), and display a worldwide map of the Jeff Koons’s Celebration series exhibition history. We also explore a recent essay by Olivier Zahm on the exhibition Warhol: Bardot with interactive “pop-up” images, audio, and video content, show you an exclusive video of Richard Prince: Bel-Air installed at a private residence in 2011, and give you an in-depth look at Roy Lichtenstein’s working process and his series Landscapes in the Chinese Style.
November 4, 2018–February 3, 2019
Musée des Beaux-Arts, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Nobson Newtown, the imaginary town that Paul Noble has been working with since 1995, shares with the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds a taste for isolation, modernist architectures, and strange public sculptures. This exhibition was conceived with the artist to resonate with the Swiss town. Featuring artworks from the past ten years, the show reveals new aspects of Noble’s work.
Paul Noble, Landscape with Wand, 2016 © Paul Noble
Politics of Small Places
Paul Noble + Patrick Geddes
September 14–October 6, 2018
Cooper Gallery, University of Dundee, Scotland
Offering paradoxical visions of the cornucopia of concrete, glass, and steel that straddles the world, Politics of Small Places forges a unique dialogue between Paul Noble and pioneering Scottish urban planner Patrick Geddes. The exhibition comprises Noble’s Nest (2004) and Eggface (2014) accompanied by a suite of drawings from which Nest is derived. Alongside Noble’s works are nine original diagrams selected from the Geddes Archive Collections at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.
Paul Noble, Egg Carton Technique Actual, 2004 © Paul Noble