A sequence has to sing. It’s not just something to decode and find the true meaning of. I have to feel its harmonies and disharmonies. It’s like a son.
In his photographs, Roe Ethridge uses the real to suggest—or disrupt—the ideal. Through commercial images of fashion models, products, and advertisements, as well as intimate moments from his own daily life, he reveals the fine line between the generic and the personal, merging art-historical genres such as the still life or portrait with the increasingly pervasive image culture of the present.
Born in Miami, Ethridge received a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1995. He moved to New York City two years later and began working as a commercial photographer. During this time, he was producing a series that catalogued trees on highway medians, seeking to apply his interest in the typologies of German objective photography to the realities (and mythologies) of the American open road. While working on this project, which he looks back on as an attempt at “tough, smart, conceptual” photography, Ethridge realized that an outtake from a beauty editorial he did for Allure magazine was “as good or better than anything [he] intentionally made as an ‘artist.’” This realization would set in motion a continuous cross-pollination of fine art and applied practice that has come to be the hallmark of Ethridge’s work, and which he often traces back to his fascination with the artistic approaches of Andy Warhol and Lee Friedlander. The results of this hybrid approach were exhibited for the first time in MoMA PS1’s Greater New York in 2000, in which an outtake from the Allure shoot and a photograph of a UPS store that Ethridge were paired together.
In 2005 the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, presented Ethridge’s first solo museum exhibition, Momentum 4: Roe Ethridge, which included close-up photographs of ordinary things—from a young pine tree to a pink ribbon that Ethridge found in his mother’s basement. Identified with what was being called “the new school of synthetic photography,” his work was included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, and two years later he was one of four artists selected for the exhibition New Photography 2010 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Ethridge’s photograph Old Fruit (2010)—a deadpan shot of a bowl of rotting produce, its grimy banality contrasting with the airbrushed, hyperbolized glamour of his editorial images. The breadth of Ethridge’s subject matter and style would be showcased further in 2012, in a solo exhibition at Le Consortium, Dijon, France. The show, which subsequently traveled to Museum Leuven, Belgium, included photographs of overflowing ashtrays juxtaposed with outtakes from fashion photo shoots, close-ups of the surfaces of a suburban backyard, a large snake slithering through dry grasses, and other images that refuse to settle into a single narrative.
Extended through May 30, 2020
February 26–May 30, 2020
976 Madison Avenue, New York
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2023
The Spring 2023 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Roe Ethridge’s Two Kittens with Yarn Ball (2017–22) on its cover.
Roe Ethridge and Antwaun Sargent
From his early work for magazines in the 1990s to recent projects with the designer Telfar Clemens, Roe Ethridge has consistently challenged the distinctions between commercial and conceptual photography that long defined the medium. Antwaun Sargent recently caught up with him to discuss the moment that confirmed the artist’s understanding of the photographic image’s potential for boundary-hopping ubiquity in the contemporary era.
Twelve Tracks: Roe Ethridge
Roe Ethridge shares the transportive powers of his playlist “Teenage Chemicals in 1985,” a soundtrack that began playing in those formative years and hasn’t stopped since.
During a conversation with David Rimanelli, Roe Ethridge reflected on photographs that he made during the late 1990s and early 2000s after moving to New York. They spoke as Ethridge was preparing for his exhibition Old Fruit.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2020
The Spring 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #412 (2003) on its cover.
Picasso and Maya: An Interview with Diana Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso
Diana Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso curated an exhibition at Gagosian, Paris, in 2017–18 titled Picasso and Maya: Father and Daughter. To celebrate the exhibition, a publication was published in 2019; the comprehensive reference publication explores the figure of Maya Ruiz-Picasso, Pablo Picasso’s beloved eldest daughter, throughout Picasso’s work and chronicles the loving relationship between the artist and his daughter. In this video, Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso details her ongoing interest in the subject and reflects on the process of making the book.
Self-Reflections: Roe Ethridge Innocence II
Angela Brown considers the wide-ranging photographs included in Roe Ethridge: Innocence II.
A photography portfolio by Roe Ethridge, accompanied by Saul Anton’s The Story of L.
Happy Birthday Louise Parker
February 21–April 5, 2024
10 Corso Como, Milan
Specially conceived for the reimagined spaces of the gallery at 10 Corso Como, Happy Birthday Louise Parker brings together a selection of iconic photographs from the past fifteen years by Roe Ethridge, including previously unreleased works. Curated by Alessandro Rabottini, the exhibition draws its title from the alluring presence of Louise Parker, a model with whom Ethridge collaborated on several fashion editorials starting in 2010. Over the years, the two became friends and Ethridge had the opportunity to portray Parker both inside and outside the framework of the fashion industry.
Installation view, Roe Ethridge: Happy Birthday Louise Parker, 10 Corso Como, Milan, February 21–April 5, 2024. Artwork © Roe Ethridge. Photo: Alessandro Saletta–DSL Studio
Paris Photo 2023
Still Life Stilled
November 9–12, 2023, booth b10
Grand Palais Ephémère, Paris
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Paris Photo 2023 at the Grand Palais Éphémère. Still Life Stilled is a catalytic presentation, organized by Joshua Chuang, of historical and contemporary works that explore photography’s unique capacity to both invest inanimate tableaux with substance and find meaning in suspending the theater of life.
Gagosian’s booth at Paris Photo 2023. Artwork, left to right: © Man Ray 2015 Trust/ADAGP, Paris 2023; ©️ Estate of Jan Groover; © Kwame Brathwaite; © Jeff Wall; © 2023 June Leaf and Robert Frank Foundation; © Tyler Mitchell. Photo: Thomas Lannes
Saturday, February 25, 2023, 4–5pm
Gagosian Shop, New York
To celebrate the publication of his new monograph, American Polychronic, Roe Ethridge will sign copies of the book in front of his exhibition of the same name at Gagosian, New York. The comprehensive volume documents Ethridge’s work from 1999 to 2022, focusing on two interlocking threads of his celebrated photographic practice. The photographs move fluidly between genres in pursuit of a distinctive visual language—blending and playfully juxtaposing the realms of fine art, fashion imagery, and advertising with the everyday, personal, and generic. The book includes a new essay by Jamieson Webster and a conversation between the artist and Antwaun Sargent. Published by MACK, it will be available for purchase at the event, which is free to attend.
Roe Ethridge: American Polychronic (New York: MACK, 2023)
Objects of Desire
Photography and the Language of Advertising
September 4–December 18, 2022
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Objects of Desire traces the artistic manipulation of advertising through the works of photo-based artists. Since the 1970s, creative innovations have led to dramatic shifts in the possibilities for photography as artistic expression, and these artists have reworked and exploited the vocabulary and strategies of advertising to challenge the increased commodification of daily life. Through re-photography, appropriation, and simulation, these artists challenge the viewer to determine what exactly these pictures are asking of us. Work by Chris Burden and Roe Ethridge is included.
Chris Burden, The TV Commercials 1973–1977, 1973–77/2000 (still) © 2022 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York
Roe Ethridge in
New Visions: The Henie Onstad Triennial for Photography and New Media
February 21–September 13, 2020
Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway
Bringing together recent work by thirty-one international artists, the inaugural edition of the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter’s triennial foregrounds practices that acknowledge the fluctuating and networked condition of contemporary photography and society. Work by Roe Ethridge is included.
Roe Ethridge, Cat with Yarn Ball, 2017 © Roe Ethridge
Pictures from Another Wall
The Collection of Huis Marseille at De Pont
February 15–August 30, 2020
De Pont Museum, Tilburg, Netherlands
On view in the De Pont Museum’s new wing are roughly one hundred contemporary photographic works from the collection of its sister institution, Huis Marseille in Amsterdam, with an emphasis on acquisitions of the past five years. Work by Roe Ethridge and Andreas Gursky is included.
Roe Ethridge, Annabella for SEPP, 2012 © Roe Ethridge
August 18, 2018–January 14, 2019
Marciano Foundation, Los Angeles
Mad World brought together works from the Marciano collection reflecting the rampant absurdities of contemporary life. Many of the exhibited works address the overwhelming accumulation of information, images, and ideas emanating from our phones, computers, billboards, televisions, and radios. Work by Roe Ethridge, Urs Fischer, and Nate Lowman was included.
Urs Fischer, Green Solace, 16 Handles, Red Solace, 2017 © Urs Fischer. Photo: Mats Nordman