Piotr Uklański was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1968. He studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw and photography at Cooper Union, New York.
Uklański emerged on the New York art scene in the mid-1990s with the emblematic work Untitled (Dance Floor)—a sculpture that integrates the legacy of minimalism with popular entertainment. Dividing his time between New York and Warsaw, he exploits multiple media (sculpture, photography, collage, performance, and film) and promiscuously absorbs diverse cultural references.
Uklański's willingness to take on potentially controversial subjects draws polemical reactions. His photographic series Untitled (The Nazis) caused protests when exhibited at The Photographers Gallery, London in 1998, and was destroyed in a publicity stunt staged by a celebrated Polish actor while on view at Zacheta Gallery, Warsaw in 2000. Installed on a Warsaw street, his billboard Untitled (John Paul II), on the other hand, was adopted by the public as a memorial shrine following the Pope's death in 2005.
Uklański's work has been collected and exhibited by museums worldwide, including Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate Britain, London; François Pinault Foundation, Venice; and Kunsthalle Basel. In 2006, Uklański debuted his first feature-length film, Summer Love: The First Polish Western. Recent museum exhibitions include "Piotr Uklański: A Retrospective," Wiener Secession, Vienna (2007); "The Joy of Photography," Musée d'art moderne et contemporain, Strasbourg (2007–08); "Mapping the Studio: Artists from the François Pinault Collection," Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2009–11); "Piotr Uklański: Forty and Four," Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw (2012–13); Piotr Uklański: ESL," Bass Museum of Art, Miami (2013-14); and "Piotr Uklański," Dallas Contemporary (2014). His work was included in the 50th Venice Biennale (2003); the 26th São Paulo Biennale (2004); and the 2010 Whitney Biennial
"Fatal Attraction: Piotr Uklański Photographs," the first survey of Uklański's photographic work, was on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2015. An installation of photographs selected by Uklański from the museum's collection accompanied the exhibition.
The recent publication Second Languages: Reading Piotr Uklański (Miami: Hatje Cantz and Bass Museum of Art, 2013) features eleven richly illustrated essays that explore the diverse aspects of Uklański's oeuvre, while examining the varied conceptual currents running throughout it. Second Languages: Reading Piotr Uklański is edited by Donna Wingate and Marc Joseph Berg.