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.
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.
Basel Online 2020
In our most significant online sales presentation to date, Gagosian unveils important works by modern and contemporary masters through two separate online platforms—Gagosian Online and Art Basel Online. These individually curated selections offer collectors direct access to artworks of the highest caliber. To experience the presentation in its entirety, viewers will need to visit both gagosian.com and artbasel.com. The works on gagosian.com will rotate every forty-eight hours, for a total of five cycles.
Helen Frankenthaler, Orange Underline, 1963 © 2020 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Thursday, June 25, 2020, 12pm EDT
This event has been postponed. The new date will be announced shortly.
Sarah Sze will speak with French art critic Anaïd Demir on the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris Instagram Live account. The pair will discuss Sze’s current exhibition at Gagosian, Paris, as well the artist’s dynamic practice that addresses the precarious nature of materiality and grapples with matters of entropy and temporality. To watch the live conversation, visit École des Beaux-Arts’s Instagram.
Installation view, Sarah Sze, Gagosian, Paris, May 23–July 18, 2020. Artwork © Sarah Sze. Photo: Rebecca Fanuele
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Sarah Sze has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The Academy, founded in 1780, is both an honorary society that recognizes and celebrates the excellence of its members and an independent research center convening leaders from across disciplines, professions, and perspectives to explore challenges facing society, identify solutions, and promote nonpartisan recommendations that advance the public good.
Sarah Sze, Ripple (Times Zero), 2020 © Sarah Sze
Images in Debris
Through 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
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
A site-specific installation of works created by Sarah Sze engages with the Guggenheim Museum’s unique architecture, culminating with the New York premiere of Timekeeper (2016), from the museum’s collection, at the apex of Frank Lloyd Wright’s renowned building. Bringing together diverse elements that embody Sze’s meditation on our experience of the passage of time, the presentation attests to the artist’s unprecedented approach to materials and space.
Sarah Sze, sketch for exhibition installation at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2020
Sarah Sze in
Surrounds: 11 Installations
October 21, 2019–January 4, 2020
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Surrounds presents eleven watershed installations by living artists from the past two decades, conceived out of different circumstances but united in the scale of their ambition. Work by Sarah Sze is included.
Sarah Sze, Triple Point (Pendulum), 2013 © Sarah Sze