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Theaster Gates

Black Vessel

October 10–December 19, 2020
555 West 24th Street, New York

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Installation view

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Works Exhibited

Theaster Gates, Flag Sketch, 2020 Industrial oil-based enamel, rubber torch down, bitumen, wood, and copper nails, 72 × 72 inches (182.9 × 182.9 cm)© Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, Flag Sketch, 2020

Industrial oil-based enamel, rubber torch down, bitumen, wood, and copper nails, 72 × 72 inches (182.9 × 182.9 cm)
© Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, Flag Sketch, 2020 (detail) Industrial oil-based enamel, rubber torch down, bitumen, wood, and copper nails, 72 × 72 inches (182.9 × 182.9 cm)© Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, Flag Sketch, 2020 (detail)

Industrial oil-based enamel, rubber torch down, bitumen, wood, and copper nails, 72 × 72 inches (182.9 × 182.9 cm)
© Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates, Top Heavy, 2020 Industrial oil-based enamel, rubber torch down, bitumen, wood, and copper, 108 × 108 inches (274.3 × 274.3 cm)© Theaster Gates. Photo: Jacob Hand

Theaster Gates, Top Heavy, 2020

Industrial oil-based enamel, rubber torch down, bitumen, wood, and copper, 108 × 108 inches (274.3 × 274.3 cm)
© Theaster Gates. Photo: Jacob Hand

Theaster Gates, Top Heavy, 2020 (detail) Industrial oil-based enamel, rubber torch down, bitumen, wood, and copper, 108 × 108 inches (274.3 × 274.3 cm)© Theaster Gates. Photo: Jacob Hand

Theaster Gates, Top Heavy, 2020 (detail)

Industrial oil-based enamel, rubber torch down, bitumen, wood, and copper, 108 × 108 inches (274.3 × 274.3 cm)
© Theaster Gates. Photo: Jacob Hand

Theaster Gates, Walking Prayer, 2018–20 (detail) Bound embossed books and vintage Carnegie cast iron shelving, 83 × 320 × 19 inches (210.8 × 812.8 × 48.3 cm)© Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Theaster Gates, Walking Prayer, 2018–20 (detail)

Bound embossed books and vintage Carnegie cast iron shelving, 83 × 320 × 19 inches (210.8 × 812.8 × 48.3 cm)
© Theaster Gates. Photo: Rob McKeever

Theaster Gates’s ceramics studio, Chicago, 2020 Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Chris Strong

Theaster Gates’s ceramics studio, Chicago, 2020

Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Chris Strong

About

I always find myself returning to the vessel. It is part of the intellectual life force of my practice and it precedes all other forms of making.
—Theaster Gates

Gagosian is pleased to present Black Vessel, Theaster Gates’s first-ever solo exhibition in New York.

Gates’s oeuvre is among the most conceptually and materially rich in contemporary art, anchored equally in the canons of art history, the racial ideology of the Black diaspora, and the artist’s own personal history. Through an art practice predicated on cultural reclamation and social empowerment, Gates exchanges and recharges objects and ideas, proposing the artwork as a communicating vessel or sacred reliquary of recollected histories, critical vitality, and shared experience. Traversing a broad range of formal approaches such as painting, sculpture, sound, and performance, as well as the processes of salvaging, archiving, and place making, he delivers penetrating social commentary on labor, material, spiritual capital, and commodity within a close examination of the urban condition.

The Brick Reliquaries (2020) are Gates’s latest sculptural experiments. By firing bricks with a strong manganese content to an excessive 2300°F, the known properties of the materials are transformed into the mysteries of heat-based sculpture. In some instances, the material loses its specificity when pushed to such limits; in others, the carbide shelves inside the kiln fuse with the bricks and other sculptural elements that rest on them, becoming host to material transformation.

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555 West 24th Street, New York

555 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011

+1 212 741 1111
newyork@gagosian.com

Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10–6 by appointment only

In the interest of public health, please read the new guidelines for visiting the 555 West 24th Street gallery.

Schedule Appointment

Press

Polskin Arts
Meagan Jones
meagan.jones@finnpartners.com
+1 212 593 6485

Julia Esposito
julia.esposito@finnpartners.com
+1 212 715 1643

Gagosian
pressny@gagosian.com

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.

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.

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.

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.