Art is a timekeeper; it endows breath into materials. It is a traveling message between humans across centuries.
Sarah Sze gleans objects and images from worlds both physical and digital, assembling them into complex multimedia works that shift scale between microscopic observation and macroscopic perspective on the infinite. A peerless bricoleur, Sze moves with a light touch across proliferating media. Her dynamic, generative body of work spans sculpture, painting, drawing, printmaking, video, and installation while always addressing the precarious nature of materiality and grappling with matters of entropy and temporality.
Born in Boston, Sze earned a BA from Yale University in 1991 and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 1997. While still in graduate school, she challenged the very nature of sculpture, at MoMA PS1 in New York, by burrowing into the walls of the building, creating sculptural portals and crafting ecosystems that radically transformed the host architecture. A year later, for her first solo institutional exhibition, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, she presented Many a Slip (1999), an immersive installation sprawling through several rooms in which flickering projections were scattered among complex assemblages of everyday objects. This marked Sze’s first foray into video, which has since become a central medium of her installations. Citing the Russian Constructivist notion of the “kiosk” as a key inspiration, she conceived subsequent installations as portable stations for the interchange of images and the exchange of information. Sze’s work was included in the 48th Biennale di Venezia and the Carnegie International in 1999; the Whitney Biennial in 2000; and the Bienal de São Paulo in 2002. She was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003.
Throughout her oeuvre, Sze embraces dichotomies—image and object, painting and sculpture—and allows each to inform the other. In Still Life with Landscape (Model for a Habitat), a 2012 commission for the High Line in New York, she translated a single-point perspective line drawing into a three-dimensional sculpture as a habitat for native bird species that both camouflaged and underscored the in situ urban and natural environment. In 2013 Sze represented the United States at the 55th Biennale di Venezia with a total takeover of the American Pavilion. The title of the project, Triple Point, refers to the conditions at which water can be at once aqueous, gaseous, and solid and reflects Sze’s driving concern to create work that exists in many states at once. Two years later, for the subsequent Biennale, she took an opposite tack, creating a series of subtle interventions in a remote and abandoned walled garden that attested to her interest in that which is dismantled, liminal, and freed from its moorings. In 2017 a permanent tiled mural of a drawing titled Blueprint for a Landscape was unveiled at the 96th Street station of the Second Avenue subway in Manhattan, spanning its four entrances and entire block-long mezzanine.
Since 2018 Sze has returned to the foundations of painting with spirited investigations of the pictorial plane and a reignited interest in the role of the image in an era of image saturation. Adapting her processes of sculptural accumulation to a two-dimensional format, she has developed a process whereby she begins with a seed image as the foundation and then layers paint and collage materials in a generative and recursive process, in which the decisions she makes in one composition resonate in connected visual constellations that either persist or decay with time’s passage. She states, “In the age of the image, a painting is a sculpture. A sculpture is a marker in time.” In these detailed, dynamic, and highly colorful and textural paintings, Sze filters her distinctive visual language through diverse materials and mediums. With both force and delicacy, her art negotiates the line between order and chaos, evoking moments of flux and precariousness through feats of sheer materiality.
Photo: courtesy Sarah Sze studio
Artist to Artist: Pat Steir and Sarah Sze
On the occasion of her exhibition of recent paintings, presented at Gagosian in Rome, Pat Steir met with fellow artist Sarah Sze for a wide-ranging discussion—from shared inspirations and influences to the role of chance, contingency, place, and time in painting.
Shorter Than the Day
Sarah Sze writes on a recent collage.
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2020
The Summer 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Joan Jonas’s Mirror Piece 1 (1969) on its cover.
Sarah Sze: Anything Times Zero Is Zero
Hear Sarah Sze speak about her most recent work, including the panel painting Picture Perfect (Times Zero) and the multimedia installation Plein Air (Times Zero) (both 2020). Discussing the relationship between painting and sculpture in her practice, she explains how she creates structure and its inverse, instability, in her layering of images, putting the viewer in the position of active discovery.
Five Films: Sarah Sze
Sarah Sze writes about five films that live as richly evocative images in her visual memory.
Sarah Sze: Infinite Generation
Louise Neri talks with Sarah Sze about the new primacy of the image in her explorations between and across mediums. They spoke on the occasion of an exhibition of Sze’s work at Gagosian, Rome, comprising collaged panel paintings, a large-scale video installation, and an outdoor sculpture fashioned from a natural boulder.
Sarah Sze: Art That Explores Time and Memory
Join Sarah Sze as she talks about the questions that drive her work. She describes creating immersive experiences that blur the lines between time, memory, and space—and between art and life.
Frieze Sculpture New York: An Interview with Brett Littman
The inaugural presentation of Frieze Sculpture New York at Rockefeller Center opened on April 25, 2019. Before the opening, Brett Littman, the director of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum and the curator of this exhibition, told Wyatt Allgeier about his vision for the project and detailed the artworks included.
Work in Progress
Sarah Sze: In the Studio
Join Sarah Sze in her studio as she prepares for an exhibition of new work in Rome.
Fairs, Events & Announcements
The Waiting Room
May 19–September 16, 2023
Peckham Rye Station, London
Sarah Sze is transforming a large Victorian waiting room at Peckham Rye Station that has lain empty for almost fifty years with The Waiting Room (2023), a site-specific installation commissioned by Artangel. The atmospheric construction features cascading lines that emerge from the center of the vaulted room to create a mesmerizing model of a fragile world. A multitude of flickering videos illuminate the structure, swirling around the space, conveying the velocity and volatility of life in the age of the smartphone. The installation is free and open to the public.
Sarah Sze, Metronome, 2023, installation view, Peckham Rye Station, London © Sarah Sze. Photo: Thierry Bal
January 12–15, 2023, booth BF05
Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore
Gagosian is pleased to announce the gallery’s participation in the inaugural edition of ART SG, with a selection of works by international contemporary artists including Banksy, Georg Baselitz, Ashley Bickerton, Edmund de Waal, Helen Frankenthaler, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Thomas Houseago, Tetsuya Ishida, Alex Israel, Jia Aili, Harmony Korine, Takashi Murakami, Nam June Paik, Giuseppe Penone, Ed Ruscha, Spencer Sweeney, Sarah Sze, Tatiana Trouvé, Anna Weyant, Jonas Wood, and Zeng Fanzhi.
Gagosian’s booth at ART SG 2023. Artwork, left to right: © Ashley Bickerton; © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2022; © Banksy; © Zeng Fanzhi; © 2020 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved. Photo: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano
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
Through September 10, 2023
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Sarah Sze’s solo exhibition Timelapse features a series of site-specific installations throughout the Guggenheim Museum that explore her ongoing reflection on how our experience of time and place is continuously reshaped in relationship to the constant stream of objects, images, and information in today’s digitally and materially saturated world. In Sze’s reimagination of the Guggenheim’s iconic architecture, designed in the 1940s by Frank Lloyd Wright, the building becomes a public timekeeper reminding us that timelines are built through shared experience and memory.
In-progress work by Sarah Sze for the exhibition Timelapse at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2022 © Sarah Sze. Photo: courtesy Sarah Sze Studio
After “The Wild”
Contemporary Art from the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation Collection
Through October 1, 2023
Jewish Museum, New York
Barnett Newman (1905–1970) was a generous supporter of his colleagues, who befriended and mentored countless younger artists. After his death, Annalee Newman, his widow, created the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation to help further the spirit of great art by providing grants. Diverse in style, training, background, and age, the foundation’s grantees—whose works make up this exhibition—share Newman’s seriousness of purpose, as well as his unrelenting drive to explore the outer limits of his own ideas. Work by Michael Heizer, Nancy Rubins, Richard Serra, and Sarah Sze is included.
Nancy Rubins, Diversifolia #1, 2017 © Nancy Rubins
23a Esposizione Internazionale
July 15, 2022–January 8, 2023
Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy
Mondo Reale—organized by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, as part of the 23rd International Exhibition at the Triennale di Milano—includes films, paintings, photography, installations, and sculptures by seventeen international artists. The exhibition aims to explore reality as a reverie, proposing an aesthetic experience around knowledge and its erasure, and a direct, emotional encounter with multiple visions of the unknown through the lenses of art and science. Work by Patti Smith and Sarah Sze is included.
Sarah Sze, Tracing Fallen Sky, 2020 (detail) © Sarah Sze. Photo: Thibaul Voisin
Sarah Sze in
Narrative Terrain: Landscape as Storytelling
May 3–October 23, 2022
Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia
Landscape has been an ever-present source of artistic inspiration for centuries. Artists often depict their surroundings not just as they are but as representations of identity, power, or markers of time. Drawn from the museum’s collection, the works on display in Narrative Terrain employ landscape—urban and bucolic, representational and abstract—to examine its complexities, challenge our assumptions, and perhaps expand our own understanding of how we relate to the world around us. Work by Sarah Sze is included.
Sarah Sze, Four Rocks, 2014 © Sarah Sze