August 5–18, 2021
I see my work as fairly self-contained, almost circular. If you tried to graph it in a linear way, it wouldn’t work. There are too many references going backwards. The work is a little like a spiral because a spiral goes forward and then circles back on itself, then passes itself again.
Over the course of the four decades of his career, Therrien drew repeatedly on the operation of memory and the texture of everyday life to produce a singular body of objects and images infused with a quality of the surreal. Best known for creating oversize sculptures of tables, chairs, dishes, and other household items, he was fascinated by the visual and conceptual effects of dramatic shifts in scale and context. From the 2000s onward, Therrien’s work also reveals influences and preoccupations including childhood mythology and period-specific design. It represents, too, an extended investigation of “figure-ground play,” wherein an image may signify several divergent things at once, to differing degrees of visibility.
In addition to sculptures and photographs, Therrien produced an extensive body of work on paper, which conveys a similar fantastical wit. Made using bleach, dye, customized stencils, and other mediums, these delicate drawings, prints, and mixed-media works often incorporate macabre motifs such as gallows and black clouds, suggesting a fascination with folklore beyond the elusive magical potential of ordinary things. Usually shown in silhouette or outline and isolated at the center of the page, these totemic images further elaborate Therrien’s interest in the relationship between objects and space.
Among the featured works are depictions of a devil, an oilcan, a head encircled by a halo, and the legs of a girl emerging from a body of water. These were created using various materials including colored pencil, graphite, laundry marker, and tempera. Two compositions incorporate abstract elements—one depicting Therrien’s enigmatic character Joyce in outline surrounded by a cluster of ink marks, the other a constellation of colored dots. In each case, Therrien invests an outwardly simple theme with magnetic ambiguity, conveying his admiration for the stylized look of early Hollywood cartoons to transform familiar icons into evocative symbols.
Robert Therrien, No title (drowning or diving girl), 2009 © Robert Therrien/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Joshua White
Saturday, March 30, 2019, 3pm
Gagosian, San Francisco
Join Gagosian for a private tour and in-depth look at Robert Therrien’s first solo exhibition in San Francisco in twenty years. In this exhibition of new paintings and sculptures, the artist pares down familiar forms such as smoke signals, stacked plates, and a witch hat to the point that they become symbols and silhouettes, underscoring the simple beauty and infinite meaning inherent in common objects. The tour, led by Graham Dalik, will consider Therrien’s continual reinvention of these motifs through shifts in medium, perspective, and scale. To attend the free event, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Therrien, No title (witch hat), 2018 © Robert Therrien/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Josh White
Venice Family Clinic Art Walk
Benefit Auction 2021
April 28–May 12, 2021
Venice Family Clinic presents its annual benefit auction, a fundraising event whose proceeds will provide essential health care services to people in the community regardless of their income, immigration, or insurance status. Since its inception forty years ago, this charity event has raised more than $23 million. This year’s auction, hosted on Artsy, is honoring Mary Weatherford as the “signature artist” and features more than two hundred works by nationally recognized contemporary artists, including Piero Golia, Ed Ruscha, Robert Therrien, as well as Weatherford. To register to bid, visit artsy.net.
Mary Weatherford, Sunset, Western Cape, 2020 © Mary Weatherford. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen Studio
Frieze Los Angeles 2020
How to Shrink L.A.
February 14–16, 2020, booth C06
Paramount Picture Studios, Los Angeles
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Frieze Los Angeles 2020. Taking Los Angeles’s system of highways as a literal and figurative backdrop, the selection includes Richard Prince’s full-scale car sculpture Untitled (2008) and Chris Burden’s ominously oversize L.A.P.D. Uniform (1993). The booth also includes work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, John Chamberlain, Urs Fischer, Theaster Gates, Piero Golia, Alex Israel, Sally Mann, Adam McEwen, Cady Noland, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Taryn Simon, Robert Therrien, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, and others.
Chris Burden, How to Shrink L.A., 1999 © 2020 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Light and Lightning: Wonder-Reactions at Walter De Maria's The Lightning Field
In this second installment of a two-part essay, John Elderfield resumes his investigation of Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1977), focusing this time on how the hope to see lightning there has led to the work’s association with the Romantic conception of the sublime.
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2021
The Summer 2021 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Carrie Mae Weems’s The Louvre (2006) on its cover.
Fashion & Art: Valentino Des Ateliers
Author and curator Gianluigi Ricuperati speaks to the Quarterly’s Wyatt Allgeier about his curatorial involvement in Valentino Des Ateliers, a collaborative project devised by Valentino’s creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli, in partnership with Ricuperati. Working in a symbiotic manner, Piccioli and the Valentino Haute Couture team engaged in a dialogue with artists Joel S. Allen, Anastasia Bay, Benni Bosetto, Katrin Bremermann, Guglielmo Castelli, Maurizio Cilli, Danilo Correale, Luca Coser, Jamie Nares, Francis Offman, Andrea Respino, Wu Rui, Sofia Silva, Alessandro Teoldi, Patricia Treib, and Malte Zenses, along with the participation of Kerstin Bratsch, to arrive at a singular couture collection.
Mixtape: Spencer Sweeney
Spencer Sweeney shares a selection of songs that have punctuated his journey through the pandemic and ponders the expressive powers of a playlist.
The New York Public Library’s Picture Collection
Joshua Chuang, the Robert B. Menschel Senior Curator of Photography at the New York Public Library, discusses the institution’s singular Picture Collection, the artist Taryn Simon’s rigorous engagement with it, and four instances of its little-known role in the history of art making.
Conclusions Never Reached: Nancy Rubins in Fluid Space
Sara Softness reflects on a new series of sculptures by Nancy Rubins, Fluid Space (2019–21), “visual poems” that hint at the invisible and the unknown.
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.
Tatiana Trouvé: From March to May
A portfolio of the artist’s drawings made during lockdown. Text by Jesi Khadivi.
Taryn Simon and Teju Cole
This spring, as part of the Lambert Family Lecture Series at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Taryn Simon joined Teju Cole for an online conversation about her artistic practice and creative process.
Social Works: Carrie Mae Weems and Maya Phillips
A pairing of photography and poetry from “Social Works,” a supplement guest edited by Antwaun Sargent for the Summer 2021 issue of the Quarterly.
Gregory Corso: A Most Dangerous Art
On the occasion of the forthcoming publication of The Golden Dot: Last Poems by Gregory Corso, Raymond Foye reflects on the poet’s enduring engagement with the human condition and explores the unique structure of this final collection.
Dennis Hopper’s Taos Ride
Douglas Dreishpoon reflects on speaking with Hopper at the Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, New Mexico, in 2009.