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’s No title (wallpaper with devil) (2001) and No title (head with halo) (2017) installed in the artist’s studio, Los Angeles. Artwork © 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
Behind the Art
Alexander Calder: Flying Dragon
In this video, Gagosian director Serena Cattaneo Adorno celebrates the installation of Alexander Calder’s monumental sculpture Flying Dragon (1975) in Paris at Place Vendôme, detailing the process and importance of this ambitious project.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2021
The Winter 2021 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Jasper Johns’s Target with Four Faces (1955) on its cover.
Kon Trubkovich Selects: The Russians Love Their Children Too
Kon Trubkovich has curated a selection of films under the title The Russians Love Their Children Too, as part of a series copresented by Gagosian and Metrograph. The program, comprising ten films presented at Metrograph’s New York theater and online in December 2021, explores Russian and Eastern European cinema from various angles. From the documentaries of Sergei Loznitsa to quintessential masterpieces such as Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror (1975), the selected films contain elements key to Trubkovich’s life and art practice. Here, Trubkovich speaks on their importance.
Eileen Costello, Marta Kuzma, and Caitlin Murray on Donald Judd: Paintings
Art historian Eileen Costello and Yale School of Art professor Marta Kuzma discuss Donald Judd’s two-dimensional work and how the lessons he learned from the innovations of Abstract Expressionist and Color Field paintings permeate his entire body of work. Their conversation is moderated by Caitlin Murray, director of archives and programs at Judd Foundation.
Sally Mann: Vinculum
Join Sally Mann at her studio in Lexington, Virginia. Filmed at work in her darkroom and within the surrounding landscape, she discusses her exploratory approach to making and printing pictures, what draws her to the landscape of the American South, and her newest body of work, Vinculum.
Peter Lindbergh: Untold Stories
The traveling retrospective gathering the work of legendary photographer Peter Lindbergh will be on view in A Coruña, Spain, from December 4, 2021, through February 28, 2022. Featuring work created over four decades of his expansive career, the exhibition was curated by Lindbergh before his death in 2019. Here, the artist’s son Benjamin Lindbergh speaks with Derek Blasberg about the project.
Asmaa Walton: Black Art Library
Asmaa Walton, independent curator and founder of the Black Art Library—a mobile living archive of global Black creativity—speaks with Gagosian director Antwaun Sargent about the origins of her book-based project. Walton tells Sargent about a recent collaboration with Bottega Veneta in a former Detroit firehouse and shares her hopes for the future of this endeavor, in terms of community and curation.
Social Works II: Manuel Mathieu | The Delusion of Power
Artist Manuel Mathieu reflects on Haiti, Francisco Goya, and conceptualizations of power, examining their roles in his practice.
Behind the Art
Jonas Wood in Hong Kong
Join Jonas Wood on a virtual tour through the creation of his first solo exhibition in Hong Kong. Wood narrates the genesis and development of the new paintings, drawings, and wallpaper.
River Girl, Outer World
A short story by t. jahan, published here on the occasion of the Quarterly’s collaboration with PEN America.
Out of the Darkness
A short story by Mathapelo Mofokeng, published here on the occasion of the Quarterly’s collaboration with PEN America.
Lee “Scratch” Perry
Connor Garel celebrates the outsized impact of this legendary musician on the world of music and beyond.