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Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, Gone Are the Days of Shelter and Martyr, 2014 (still) Video, color, sound, 6 min. 31 sec.© Theaster Gates. Photo: Sara Pooley

Theaster Gates, Gone Are the Days of Shelter and Martyr, 2014 (still)

Video, color, sound, 6 min. 31 sec.
© Theaster Gates. Photo: Sara Pooley

Theaster Gates, 12 Ballads for Huguenot House, 2012 Installation view, Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany, 2012© Theaster Gates. Photo: Nils Klinger

Theaster Gates, 12 Ballads for Huguenot House, 2012

Installation view, Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany, 2012
© Theaster Gates. Photo: Nils Klinger

Theaster Gates, Rickshaw for Black Bricks, 2013 © Theaster Gates. Images: Marc Tatti

Theaster Gates, Rickshaw for Black Bricks, 2013

© Theaster Gates. Images: Marc Tatti

Theaster Gates, The George Black House, 2016 Installation view, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 2016© Theaster Gates. Image: Ian LeFebvre.

Theaster Gates, The George Black House, 2016

Installation view, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 2016
© Theaster Gates. Image: Ian LeFebvre.

Installation view, Theaster Gates: Black Archive, KUB Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, April 23–June 26, 2016 Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Markus Tretter © Kunsthaus Bregenz

Installation view, Theaster Gates: Black Archive, KUB Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, April 23–June 26, 2016

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Markus Tretter © Kunsthaus Bregenz

Theaster Gates, True Value, 2016 (detail) Installation view, Fondazione Prada, Milan, 2016© Theaster Gates. Photo: © Delfino Sisto Legnani Studio, courtesy Fondazione Prada

Theaster Gates, True Value, 2016 (detail)

Installation view, Fondazione Prada, Milan, 2016
© Theaster Gates. Photo: © Delfino Sisto Legnani Studio, courtesy Fondazione Prada

Theaster Gates, Black Vessel for a Saint, 2017 Brick, granite, Cor-Ten steel, concrete, and statue of St. Laurence covered with roofing membrane, 280 × 192 inches (711.2 × 487.7 cm), permanently installed in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden© Theaster Gates Photo: Gene Pittman, courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Theaster Gates, Black Vessel for a Saint, 2017

Brick, granite, Cor-Ten steel, concrete, and statue of St. Laurence covered with roofing membrane, 280 × 192 inches (711.2 × 487.7 cm), permanently installed in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
© Theaster Gates Photo: Gene Pittman, courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

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

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

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

Installation view, The Black Image Corporation, Fondazione Prada, Milano Osservatorio, Milan, September 20, 2018–January 14, 2019 Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti, courtesy Fondazione Prada, Milan

Installation view, The Black Image Corporation, Fondazione Prada, Milano Osservatorio, Milan, September 20, 2018–January 14, 2019

Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti, courtesy Fondazione Prada, Milan

Theaster Gates, So Bitter, This Curse of Darkness, 2019 Installation view, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2019© Theaster Gates. Photo: Chris Strong

Theaster Gates, So Bitter, This Curse of Darkness, 2019

Installation view, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2019
© Theaster Gates. Photo: Chris Strong

Installation view, Theaster Gates: Amalgam, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, February 20–May 12, 2019 Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Chris Strong

Installation view, Theaster Gates: Amalgam, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, February 20–May 12, 2019

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Chris Strong

Installation view, Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, September 5, 2019–January 12, 2020 Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Bobby Rogers, courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Installation view, Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, September 5, 2019–January 12, 2020

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Bobby Rogers, courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Installation view, Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, September 5, 2019–January 12, 2020 Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Bobby Rogers, courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Installation view, Theaster Gates: Assembly Hall, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, September 5, 2019–January 12, 2020

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Bobby Rogers, courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

About

My body is capital, my brain is capital, my hands are capital, and the byproducts of my hands are capital. And once I understand my own value, I think about spatial value, the value of other people, the value of people working together, the possibility of exponential value as a result of certain kinds of bodies rubbing up against each other.
—Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates has incubated new models for artistic creation, social transformation, and building legacies. Traversing a vast array of methodologies encompassing sculpture, performance, and archives, he explores concepts of value and economy, as well as spiritual and material exchange, as they perform in charged social contexts.

Gates first began to work with clay at Iowa State University, Ames, where he received a BS in 1996. After graduating, he studied pottery in Tokoname, Japan, before receiving an MA in fine arts and religious studies from the University of Cape Town in 1998 and an MA in urban planning from Iowa State in 2006. These seemingly disparate interests came together in Gates’s oeuvre as early as 2007, in Plate Convergence at the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. For this performance piece, Gates organized a dinner party themed on a fictional tale of a cultural collaboration between a Black family and a Japanese ceramicist.

In 2010 Gates created the Rebuild Foundation, a nonprofit platform targeting neighborhood regeneration, community arts programming, and cultural development in Chicago. Many of the foundation’s initiatives have focused on revitalizing Chicago’s South Side—creating hubs and archives for Black culture that catalyze discussions about race, equality, space, and history. Two years later, at Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany, Gates expanded this redemptive urban initiative into a transatlantic correspondence with 12 Ballads for Huguenot House, in which two derelict nineteenth-century buildings—one in Kassel, the other in Chicago—underwent a mutual transmutation, whereby parts of each were reused in the rebuilding of the other, and the resulting spaces were consecrated with live performance.

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Theaster Gates

Photo: Julien Faure/Paris Match/Getty Images

Photograph of Serpertine Pavilion designed by Theaster Gates © Theaster Gates Studio. Photo: Iwan Baan, courtesy: Serpentine

Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Questionnaire: Theaster Gates

In this ongoing series, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist has devised a set of thirty-seven questions that invite artists, authors, musicians, and other visionaries to address key elements of their lives and creative practices. Respondents are invited to make a selection from the larger questionnaire and to reply in as many or as few words as they desire. For this installment, we are honored to present the artist Theaster Gates, whose Serpentine Pavilion 2022 Black Chapel opened in London on June 10.

Takashi Murakami cover and Andreas Gursky cover for Gagosian Quarterly, Summer 2022 magazine

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2022

The Summer 2022 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, with two different covers—featuring Takashi Murakami’s 108 Bonnō MURAKAMI.FLOWERS (2022) and Andreas Gursky’s V & R II (2022).

Theaster Gates, A Song for Frankie, 2017–21, 5,000 records, DJ booth, and record player

Social Works: The Archives of Frankie Knuckles Organized by Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, steward of the Frankie Knuckles record collection, is engaging with the late DJ and musician’s archive of records, ephemera, and personal effects. For the Quarterly’s “Social Works” supplement, guest edited by Antwaun Sargent, Gates presents a selection of Knuckles’s personal record collection. Chantala Kommanivanh, a Chicago-based artist, educator, and musician—and the records manager for Rebuild Foundation, Chicago—provides annotations, contextualizing these records’ importance and unique qualities. Ron Trent, a dear friend of Knuckles’s, speaks to the legacy evinced by these materials.

Edmund de Waal and Theaster Gates

Artist to Artist: Edmund de Waal and Theaster Gates

Join the artists for an extended conversation about their most recent exhibitions, their forebears in the world of ceramics, and the key role that history plays in their practices.

The crowd at the public funeral of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in April 1968. Photo by Moneta Sleet Jr.

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2020

The Fall 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available.

Photo: Moneta Sleet, Jr., 1965. Johnson Publishing Company Archive. Courtesy Ford Foundation, J. Paul Getty Trust, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Smithsonian Institution.

Theaster Gates: Black Image Corporation

As a prelude to his first-ever solo exhibition in New York, Theaster Gates discusses his prescient work with the photographic archive of Chicago’s Johnson Publishing Company and his formation of Black Image Corporation as a conceptual project. In conversation with Louise Neri, he expands on his strategies as artist and social innovator in his quest to redeem and renew the sacred power of Black images and Black space. 

The inside of Theaster Gates’s Black Vessel for a Saint sculpture

How to Renew the Color of Bricks

Social historian Chris Dingwall reflects on Theaster Gates’s engagement with the history of quotidian materials, focusing on the symbolic qualities and function of his brick-based sculpture.

Theaster Gates in his studio

Theaster Gates: Black Vessel

Join Theaster Gates in his studio as he prepares for an upcoming exhibition at Gagosian, New York. In this video, shot on location in Chicago during the tumultuous weeks of protest in late spring 2020, Gates reflects on the metaphorical power of materials and process, and on the redemptive potential of art.

Anselm Kiefer, Volkszählung (Census), 1991, steel, lead, glass, peas, and photographs, 163 ⅜ × 224 ½ × 315 inches (4.1 × 5.7 × 8 m)/

Cast of Characters

James Lawrence explores how contemporary artists have grappled with the subject of the library.

Theaster Gates, Paris, 2019.

Theaster Gates: Amalgam

Theaster Gates’s exhibition Amalgam explores the social histories of migration and interracial relations by highlighting the specific history of the Maine island of Malaga. Here, William Whitney considers the exhibition in relation to Gates’s ongoing art practices and social commitments.

Cover of the Winter 2019 Gagosian Quarterly, featuring a selection from a black-and-white Christopher Wool photograph

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2019

The Winter 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a selection from Christopher Wool’s Westtexaspsychosculpture series on its cover.

Thelma Golden and David Adjaye.

The Studio Museum in Harlem

Established in 1968, the Studio Museum in Harlem has served as a crucial institution in the development, presentation, and promotion of artists of African descent. With the museum now preparing for the construction of a new home, Gagosian’s Mark Francis spoke with Thelma Golden, director and chief curator, and Sir David Adjaye OBE, the project’s principal architect, about the building plans and the centrality of artists in their collaboration.

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Sarah Sze, Left Field (Times Zero), 2019 © Sarah Sze

Art Fair

Art Basel Miami Beach 2022

December 1–3, 2022, Booth D5
Miami Beach Convention Center
artbasel.com

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.

Sarah Sze, Left Field (Times Zero), 2019 © Sarah Sze

Still from Andrei Rublev (1966), directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

Screening and Talk

Theaster Gates
Dr. Christina Kiaer

Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 7pm
Metrograph, New York
metrograph.com

Join Theaster Gates as he introduces The Trace, a film program he curated as part of a series copresented by Gagosian and Metrograph. Gates’s program explores filmic relationships across genres and decades that begin to lay out the origins of Russian engagement with Black American labor movements and analogous cinematic projects. Foregrounding the artist’s interest in propaganda and nation building, Gates and Dr. Christina Kiaer, Arthur Andersen Teaching and Research Professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, will discuss the political voicing and aesthetic and technical devices that appear in films about the Soviet project and the Black Power movement, anchoring their dialogue on Andrei Tarkovsky’s revered film Andrei Rublev, while reflecting on the sacred, the radicalized, and the culturally specific. Clips from Andrei Rublev, Soviet newsreels, and Zora Neale Hurston’s anthropological fieldwork in the rural South will be screened before the talk.

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Still from Andrei Rublev (1966), directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

Still from Daughters of the Dust (1991), directed by Julie Dash

Screening

Theaster Gates Selects

November 16–27, 2022
Metrograph, New York
metrograph.com

Theaster Gates has curated a selection of films under the title The Trace, as part of a series copresented by Gagosian and Metrograph, in the theater and online. The program, organized in conjunction with the exhibition Theaster Gates: Young Lords and Their Traces at the New Museum, New York, will explore filmic relationships across different genres and decades that begin to lay out the origins of Russian engagement with Black American labor movements and analogous cinematic projects.

Still from Daughters of the Dust (1991), directed by Julie Dash

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Museum Exhibitions

Sally Mann, The Bath, 1989 © Sally Mann

On View

Monochrome Multitudes

Through January 8, 2023
Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago
smartmuseum.uchicago.edu

Revisiting classic modernist ideas about flatness, idealized form, and colors, this exhibition opens up the seemingly reductive format of the monochrome to reveal its global resonance and creative possibilities while working toward a more expansive narrative of twentieth and twenty-first century art. Work by Alexander Calder, Walter De Maria, Helen Frankenthaler, Theaster Gates, Frank Gehry, Sally Mann, and Richard Serra is included.

Sally Mann, The Bath, 1989 © Sally Mann

Theaster Gates, The Double Wide, 2022, installation view, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson © Theaster Gates. Photo: Mitro Hood, courtesy Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, and Baltimore Museum of Art

On View

Theaster Gates in
A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration

Through January 29, 2023
Baltimore Museum of Art
artbma.org

A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration explores the profound impact of the Great Migration on the social and cultural life of the United States from historical and personal perspectives. The Great Migration (1915–70) saw more than six million Black Americans leave the South for cities across the country. The exhibition features newly commissioned works in a variety of media by twelve Black artists who explore themes of perseverance, self-determination, and self-reliance in their practices. Informed by research, explorations, and conversations, they examine the impacts this historical phenomenon continues to have today. This exhibition has traveled from the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson. Work by Theaster Gates is included.

Theaster Gates, The Double Wide, 2022, installation view, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson © Theaster Gates. Photo: Mitro Hood, courtesy Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, and Baltimore Museum of Art

Theaster Gates, Black Vessel for the Traces of Our Young Lords and Their Spirits–Vessel #1, 2022 (detail) © Theaster Gates. Photo: Jim Prinz

On View

Theaster Gates
Young Lords and Their Traces

Through February 5, 2023
New Museum, New York
www.newmuseum.org

Theaster Gates: Young Lords and Their Traces presents a selection of the artist’s paintings, sculptures, videos, performances, and archival collections that together memorialize both heroic figures and more humble, everyday icons. Gates’s elevation of these quieter sources of knowledge, and his assertion that collecting is a form of devotion and remembrance, has made his work reverberate on both local and international levels. In this exhibition the Chicago-based artist honors the radical thinkers who have shaped his practice and his world.

Theaster Gates, Black Vessel for the Traces of Our Young Lords and Their Spirits–Vessel #1, 2022 (detail) © Theaster Gates. Photo: Jim Prinz

Theaster Gates, The Double Wide, 2022, installation view, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson © Theaster Gates. Photo: Mitro Hood, courtesy Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, and Baltimore Museum of Art

Closed

Theaster Gates in
A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration

April 9–September 11, 2022
Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson
www.msmuseumart.org

A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration explores the profound impact of the Great Migration on the social and cultural life of the United States from historical and personal perspectives. The Great Migration (1915–70) saw more than six million Black Americans leave the South for cities across the country. The exhibition features newly commissioned works in a variety of media by twelve Black artists who explore themes of perseverance, self-determination, and self-reliance in their practices. Informed by research, explorations, and conversations, they examine the impacts this historical phenomenon continues to have today. Work by Theaster Gates is included.

Theaster Gates, The Double Wide, 2022, installation view, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson © Theaster Gates. Photo: Mitro Hood, courtesy Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, and Baltimore Museum of Art

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Press

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