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.
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.
FIAC Online 2021
March 2–12, 2021
Gagosian is pleased to present Printemps oublié for the first online edition of FIAC. This curated presentation reflects the dual character of springtime as a reminder of past trials and the harbinger of a vibrant new season to come.
All the artworks will appear on the Gagosian website and a rotating selection will appear in the inaugural FIAC Online Viewing Rooms, from March 4 to 7.
Jeff Koons, Bluebird Planter, 2010–16 © Jeff Koons
Night Vision 20/20
Sarah Sze has created Night Vision 20/20, an immersive mobile app that uses augmented reality to take users, wherever they may be, into a nocturnal dream world. It was developed by the digital agency Cher Ami in conjunction with the artist’s exhibition Night into Day at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris. The visual elements, composed of videos drawn from Sze’s installations, transform the users’ perception of reality through their smartphone screen. Night Vision 20/20 also features a sound piece created by Sze, bringing the user into the artist’s universe and opening the door to a personal and playful exploration of her art. To download the free app, visit the App Store or Google Play Store.
View with Sarah Sze’s augmented reality app Night Vision 20/20
Artist Plate Project
Coalition for the Homeless
November 16–December 14, 2020
Gagosian is pleased to support the Coalition for the Homeless’s Artist Plate Project fundraiser. Artwork by fifty artists, including Cecily Brown, Katharina Grosse, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Sarah Sze, Andy Warhol, Jonas Wood, and Christopher Wool, is featured on limited-edition dinner plates produced by Prospect and made available through Artware Editions to support the Coalition’s lifesaving programs. All of the funds raised by the sale of the plates will provide food, crisis services, housing, and other critical aid to thousands of people experiencing homelessness and instability. The purchase of one plate can feed seventy-five homeless and hungry New Yorkers.
Katharina Grosse, Shake Before Using, 2020 © Katharina Grosse and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Germany 2020
Night into Day
Through April 25, 2021
Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris
Sarah Sze presents two immersive installations in the gallery spaces of Jean Nouvel’s iconic building. Commissioned by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, her new works explore how the proliferation of images—printed in magazines, gleaned from the Web, intercepted from outer space—fundamentally changes our relation to physical objects, memories, and time. The works will also engage with the materiality and history of Nouvel’s structure and its surrounding garden. Enveloping the architecture, these sculptures will alter the visitor’s sense of gravity, scale, and time, confusing the boundaries between inside and outside, mirage and reality, past and present.
Sarah Sze, Twice Twilight, 2020, installation view, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris © Sarah Sze. Photo © Luc Boegly
Sarah Sze in
Through August 8, 2021
ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany
This exhibition invites visitors to engage with the critical situation of the earth in a novel and diverse way and to explore new modes of coexistence between all forms of life. In order to remedy the generally prevailing disorientation and dissension in society, politics, and ecology with regard to the changing state of the planet, the exhibition project sets up an imaginary cartography, considering the earth as a network of “critical zones.” Work by Sarah Sze is included.
Sarah Sze, Flash Point (Timekeeper), 2018 © Sarah Sze. Photo: Matteo D’Eletto, M3 Studio
Sarah Sze in
Off the Wall
March 7–Fall 2021
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Off the Wall features photography-based installations by five artists, including Sarah Sze, who have challenged the established notions of how a photograph should be displayed. Employing inventive approaches that stretch the boundaries of the medium, the exhibited works engage visitors in unconventional ways. Sze’s Images in Translation (2019) is an intricate installation of still and moving images that blurs the line between art and life, the virtual and the real.
Sarah Sze, Images in Translation, 2019 © Sarah Sze
Images in Debris
February 6–October 4, 2020
Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto
Sarah Sze’s Images in Debris is the first installment in The City Is a Collection, an exhibition series organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto, that presents privately owned contemporary artworks from throughout the local community. Constellatory, monumental, intimate, and immersive, this work is one in a series of sculptures by the artist where light, movement, images, and architecture coalesce into a single, precarious equilibrium.
Sarah Sze, Images in Debris, 2018 (detail) © Sarah Sze