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Theaster Gates

Selected Works

February 12–March 23, 2019
rue de Ponthieu, Paris

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic

Works Exhibited

Theaster Gates, Black Madonna, 2017 Bronze and tar, 58 ½ × 26 ¼ × 21 ¼ inches (148.6 × 66.7 × 54 cm), edition 1/3© Theaster Gates. Photo: Julian Salinas

Theaster Gates, Black Madonna, 2017

Bronze and tar, 58 ½ × 26 ¼ × 21 ¼ inches (148.6 × 66.7 × 54 cm), edition 1/3
© Theaster Gates. Photo: Julian Salinas

Theaster Gates, Bronze (Africa), 2016 Bronze with tar, 78 × 57 × 5 ¼ inches (198.1 × 144.8 × 13.3 cm)© Theaster Gates. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic

Theaster Gates, Bronze (Africa), 2016

Bronze with tar, 78 × 57 × 5 ¼ inches (198.1 × 144.8 × 13.3 cm)
© Theaster Gates. Photo: Zarko Vijatovic

Theaster Gates, Torchdown, 2014 Wood, tar, rubber, and metal, 60 × 84 × 5 inches (152.4 × 213.4 × 12.7 cm)© Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, Torchdown, 2014

Wood, tar, rubber, and metal, 60 × 84 × 5 inches (152.4 × 213.4 × 12.7 cm)
© Theaster Gates

About

On February 18, Theaster Gates’s first and much-anticipated museum exhibition in France, entitled Amalgam, will open at Palais de Tokyo in Paris. To coincide and to mark the announcement of representation, Gagosian will present selected recent works by Gates at 4 rue de Ponthieu, Paris, from February 12 until March 23.

In a single decade, Theaster Gates has incubated compelling new models for legacy building, social transformation, and making art. Encompassing sculpture, painting, ceramics, video, performance, and music, his art both derives from and sustains ambitious urban renewal projects—creating hubs and archives for Black culture, which serve as catalysts for discussions on race, equality, space, and history. Aspects of Gates’s oeuvre suggest the almost shamanic role of worker and artisan, where the power of the unseen is harnessed and manifested in the ordinary and everyday. In his abstract compositions made out of new and used roofing materials—tar, rubber, slate—working-class labor, ritual, and formalism intersect and are imbued with religious potency.

Occupying two floors of the Paris gallery, the works on view highlight some of Gates’s artistic preoccupations in a panoramic sweep: the Civil Tapestries (2011­–) made from lengths of used firehose; the cast wall works Bronze with Stripe and Bronze (Africa) (both 2016) and tar paintings Playground with High Horizon and Torchdown (both 2014)which relate to the working history of Gates’s own family; the ceramic vessels and figurines inspired by African artifacts and made by Gates in his Chicago kiln; and Neon (Mountain) (2016), from a series of neon sculptures based on W. E. B. DuBois’s modernist data visualizations on the state of Black life in the United States, exhibited at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. The imposing and resonant statue Black Madonna (2018), set in the gallery’s streetfront vitrine, was modeled after a keychain tchotchke of a medieval sedes sapientiae (throne of wisdom), a devotional title for Mary as the vessel for the Christ Child. Paired with a salvaged hardware sign, the rebus encapsulates one of Gates’s main conceptual pursuits: to evoke the sacred and spiritual through the objects and materials of the everyday.

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).

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.

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. 

News

Photo: Chris Strong

Artist Spotlight

Theaster Gates

June 10–16, 2020

Theaster Gates’s practice traverses an extraordinary range, from collecting to social gathering, architecture and object making, experimental music and sound, and the ethical and physical reconstruction of civic life. His interdisciplinary fusion of archiving, performance, institution building, painting, and sculpting is deeply rooted in African American histories and cultures, and revolves around the transformation of objects, edifices, and communities through art and cultural activity.

Photo: Chris Strong

Photo: Sara Polley

New Representation

Theaster Gates

Gagosian is pleased to announce the representation of 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 both derives from and sustains ambitious urban renewal projects—creating hubs and archives for Black culture, which serve as catalysts for discussions on race, equality, space, and history. Aspects of Gates’s oeuvre suggest the almost shamanic role of worker and artisan, where the power of the unseen is harnessed and manifested in the ordinary and everyday. In his abstract compositions made out of new and used roofing materials—tar, rubber, slate—working-class labor, ritual, and formalism intersect and are imbued with religious potency.

Download the press release in English (PDF) or French (PDF)

Photo: Sara Polley