Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, A Flag for the Least of Them, 2018 Decommissioned fire hoses, 59 ⅞ × 84 ⅝ inches (152 × 215 cm)© Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, A Flag for the Least of Them, 2018

Decommissioned fire hoses, 59 ⅞ × 84 ⅝ inches (152 × 215 cm)
© Theaster Gates


In a single decade, Gates has incubated compelling new models for legacy building, social transformation, and making art. Encompassing sculpture, painting, ceramics, video, performance, and music, his art comes out of his explorations of value, economy, and material exchange in charged social contexts. In 2010, Gates created the Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit platform aimed at galvanizing communities through neighborhood regeneration and the development of educational and arts programming and amenities. Many of the foundation’s initiatives have focused on the revitalization of Chicago’s South Side, creating hubs and archives for black culture, which serve as catalysts for discussions on race, equality, space, and history.

In the years since his participation in the 2010 Whitney Biennial, Gates has received widespread international recognition for stirring works such as 12 Ballads for Huguenot House at Documenta 13 (2012) and Gone Are the Days of Shelter and Martyr at the Venice Biennale in 2015, as well as major exhibitions at Fondazione Prada, Milan; Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria; and Kunstmuseum Basel. His current academic affiliations with the University of Chicago; the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; and Colby College, Waterville, Maine, aid the evolution of earlier vocational pursuits in public service, urban planning, and religious studies.

Gates was born in Chicago, where he continues to live and work. Public collections include Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles. Solo exhibitions include An Epitaph for Civil Rights, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2011–12); The Listening Room, Seattle Art Museum (2011–12); Soul Manufacturing Corporation: To Make the Thing that Makes the Things, Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia (2013); Processions, Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2016); True Value, Fondazione Prada, Milan (2016); Black Archive, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2016); How to Build a House Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2016); The Minor Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2017); and Black Madonna, Kunstmuseum Basel (2018, traveling to Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany).

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Theaster Gates. Photo: Rankin

Screening and Talk

Theaster Gates
Dance of Malaga

Wednesday, May 8, 2019, 7–8:30pm
Getty Center, Los Angeles

To conclude the Getty Scholar Year Symposium on the theme of monumentality, keynote presenter Theaster Gates—current artist-in-residence at the Getty Research Institute—will screen his recent film Dance of Malaga (2019). The film is a monument to the people of Malaga Island, Maine, and a meditation on love and race in America. The screening will be followed by a conversation with the Research Institute’s deputy director, Andrew Perchuk. To attend the free event, reserve tickets at

Theaster Gates. Photo: Rankin

Theaster Gates. Photo: Julian Salinas


Theaster Gates
Vision and Justice: A Convening

April 25–26, 2019
Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Theaster Gates is participating in “Vision and Justice,” a two-day creative gathering that will consider the role of the arts in understanding the nexus of art, race, and justice. The program will emphasize short presentations, with the goal of outlining and catalyzing ideas for future work in art and justice around the country and the world. To attend the free event, register at To live-stream the event, visit

Theaster Gates. Photo: Julian Salinas

Theaster Gates, america, america, 2019 (detail) © Theaster Gates


Theaster Gates
Chicago Transit Authority

In April 2019, the Chicago Transit Authority unveiled two new works by Theaster Gates, commissioned for the recently completed 95th/Dan Ryan station, located at the southernmost end of the city’s Red Line. With america, america (2019), a pair of large tapestries made from decommissioned fire hoses, on display in the station’s South Terminal, the artist aims to formally materialize the history of the civil rights struggle in the US and to acknowledge that the work of equity and equality is an ongoing effort carried on not by one person but by all.

Theaster Gates, america, america, 2019 (detail) © Theaster Gates

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Museum Exhibitions

Douglas Gordon, Monster, 1996–97 © Studio lost but found/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

Opening this Week

In Present-Day Art

September 1, 2019–January 5, 2020
Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland

This exhibition explores how the subject of the mask is being addressed in contemporary art. Interest in masks among contemporary artists focuses not just on the mask as an object but also, and in particular, on its social, cultural, and political implications. Work by Theaster Gates, Douglas Gordon, and Cindy Sherman is included.

Douglas Gordon, Monster, 1996–97 © Studio lost but found/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019

Portrait of a woman from the archives of the Johnson Publishing Company. Photo: courtesy Theaster Gates

On View

Theaster Gates
Facsimile Cabinet of Women Origin Stories

Through September 8, 2019
Colby Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine

This exhibition features nearly three thousand images from the Johnson Publishing Company, which since 1942 has chronicled the lives of black Americans through the magazines Ebony and Jet. Theaster Gates’s project, composed from this important archive of black visual culture, recontextualizes and reanimates these images and their histories, as Facsimile Cabinet is both a repository and an interactive archive.

Portrait of a woman from the archives of the Johnson Publishing Company. Photo: courtesy Theaster Gates

On View

Theaster Gates in
Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography

Through September 22, 2019
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The exhibition surveys the gradual recognition of fashion photography as an art form through more than two hundred photographs and presents a broad and diverse perspective on the art form and its trajectory from niche industry to powerful cultural force. Work by Theaster Gates is included.

Theaster Gates, Gold Landscape in Three Strokes, 2017 © Theaster Gates

On View

La source

Through November 3, 2019
Fondation Carmignac, Porquerolles, France

Visitors are invited to take off their shoes before descending beneath the surface of the Provençal farmhouse where the exhibition is staged to discover more than sixty artworks from the collection, as well as important loans and new productions. Work by Theaster Gates and Roy Lichtenstein is included.

Theaster Gates, Gold Landscape in Three Strokes2017 © Theaster Gates

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