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.
Created in response to the covid-19 pandemic, the Artist Spotlight series highlights individual artists, one week at a time, whose exhibitions have been affected by the health crisis. A single artwork by the artist is made available with pricing information for forty-eight hours only.
Artist Spotlight: Theaster Gates will feature a new work directly from the artist’s studio. For more information, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Chris Strong
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: 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.
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.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2020
The Fall 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available.
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.
Cast of Characters
James Lawrence explores how contemporary artists have grappled with the subject of the library.
Extended through January 23, 2021
October 10, 2020–January 23, 2021
555 West 24th Street, New York
Thursday, February 25, 2021, 4pm EST
Theaster Gates will be in dialogue with Massimiliano Gioni, artistic director of the New Museum, New York, on the occasion of Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America, an exhibition originally conceived by curator Okwui Enwezor (1963–2019). The show brings together thirty-seven artists who have addressed the concept of mourning, commemoration, and loss as a direct response to the national emergency of racist violence experienced by Black communities across America. This is the first program in a series of conversations highlighting the practices of artists participating in the New Museum exhibition. To attend the online event, register at www.tfaforms.com.
Theaster Gates, Gone Are the Days of Shelter and Martyr, 2014 (still) © Theaster Gates
Friday, February 12, 2021, 3pm est
Theaster Gates will speak with Hawai‘i Triennial 2022 curatorial director Melissa Chiu as part of the inaugural Hawai‘i Contemporary Art Summit 2021. The pair will discuss the coalescence of art, craft, architecture, and urban planning in Gates’s artistic practice. The four-day virtual summit, which begins on February 10, brings together renowned keynote speakers, artists, curators, and thinkers from Hawai‘i and around the world for a series of talks, panels, performance-based events, and educational programming focused on art and ideas. To join the talk, register for the summit at hawaiicontemporary.org.
Photo: John R. Boehm
Monday, January 25, 2021, 6:30pm EST
Gagosian and the Studio Museum in Harlem are pleased to present Theaster Gates in conversation with Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. This event marks the closing of Black Vessel, Gates’s first-ever solo exhibition in New York, which opened to the public on October 10, 2020, at Gagosian, 555 West 24th Street. The speakers will be introduced by Gagosian director Louise Neri. To join, register at eventbrite.com or watch live on Gagosian’s YouTube channel.
Theaster Gates (left). Photo: Sara Pooley. Thelma Golden (right). Photo: Julie Skarratt
Theaster Gates in
Promise, Witness, Remembrance
Through June 6, 2021
Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky
Promise, Witness, Remembrance reflects on the life of Breonna Taylor, her killing by Louisville police in 2020, and the year of protests that followed, both locally and around the world. The group exhibition explores the dualities of this personal, local story and the nation’s reflection on the promise, witness, and remembrance of too many Black lives lost to gun violence. Work by Theaster Gates is included.
Theaster Gates, Alls my life I has to fight, 2019 (detail) © Theaster Gates. Photo: Jim Prinz
Through May 16, 2021
Pérez Art Museum Miami
Theaster Gates’s Breathing (2010) is a video work inspired by the artist’s avid interest in Eastern Buddhism as well as his lifelong personal relationship with traditional gospel music, which constituted a formative aspect of his Baptist upbringing. The singers who appear in the video belong to an experimental choir known as the Black Monks (formerly the Black Monks of Mississippi), which Gates has directed since 2008. The Black Monks merge Black Southern gospel and blues music with the monastic chant traditions of Buddhism. The soothing, beautiful melodies that result from this unique hybrid testify to the potency of Black spiritual musical legacies while alluding to a communal experience that transcends geographic, cultural, and linguistic boundaries.
Theaster Gates, Breathing, 2010 (still) © Theaster Gates
Theaster Gates and Cauleen Smith
October 17, 2020–May 23, 2021
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Bringing together the work of two interdisciplinary artists, this presentation centers on video projections that each take archival magazine photography as a departure point. Theaster Gates’s Do you hear me calling? Mama Mamama or What Is Black Power? (2018) pays homage to the power of women by exploring the idea of the Black Madonna through a reworking of three decades of images drawn from the archives of the Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company, publisher of Jet and Ebony magazines. Smith’s Sojourner (2018) culminates with a feminist reimagining of an unpublished photograph taken for Life magazine in 1966.
Theaster Gates, Do you hear me calling? Mama Mamama or What Is Black Power?, 2018 (still) © Theaster Gates
Through May 23, 2021
Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai
Theaster Gates: China Cabinet explores the links that exist between Gates’s activity as a ceramist and his work as a visual artist, performer, professor, urban planner, and community activist. Organized with support of Fondazione Prada, the exhibition is conceived as a narrative in three chapters that unfolds across multiple staged settings in which the artist’s role evolves from guest to ghost to host. Following tableaux suggesting an antique Chinese porcelain boutique and a reconstruction of Gates’s potter’s workshop, the story culminates with the artist’s complete occupation of Prada Rong Zhai with artworks displayed as they would be in a private home.
Installation view, Theaster Gates: China Cabinet, Prada Rong Zhai, Shanghai, March 11–May 23, 2021. Artwork © Theaster Gates. Photo: Alessandro Wang