|Born||Ellen R. Gallagher
December 16, 1965
Providence, Rhode Island
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Background and education
Gallagher was born on December 16, 1965 in Providence, Rhode Island. Referred to as African American, she is of biracial ethnicity; her father's heritage was from Cape Verde, in Western Africa (but he was born in the United States), and her mother's background was Caucasian Irish Catholic.
Gallagher studied writing at Oberlin College in Ohio (1982–84). Then she attended Studio 70 in Fort Thomas, Kentucky in 1989 before earning a degree in fine arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1992. Her art education further continued in 1993 at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine.
Gallagher's influences include the paintings of Agnes Martin and the repetitive writings of Gertrude Stein. Some of Gallagher's work involves repetitively modifying advertising found in African American focused publications such as Ebony, Sepia, and Our World. Her most famous pieces are her grid-like collages of magazines grouped together into larger pieces. Examples of these are eXelento (2004), Afrylic, (2004), and DeLuxe, (2005). Each of these works contains as many as or more than 60 prints employing techniques of photogravure, spit-bite, collage, cutting, scratching, silkscreen, offset lithography and hand-building. Themes related to race are often evident in Gallagher's work, sometimes using pictographs, symbols, codes and repetitions. "Sambo lips" and "bug eyes," references to the Black minstrel shows, are often scattered throughout Gallagher’s works. Certain characters are also used repeatedly, such as the image of the nurse or the “Pegleg” character that sometimes populate her page‘s iconography. Some of her pieces may explicitly reference the issue of race while also having a more subtle undercurrent related to race.
Her media include painting, works on paper, film and video. She has made innovative use of materials, such as creating a unique variation on scrimshaw by carving images into the surface of thick sheets of watercolor paper and drawing with ink, watercolor, and pencil. These works depict sea creatures, of the mythical undersea world of Drexciya, which were the progeny of slaves who had drowned. This mythology had been conceived by a musical duo of that name, from Detroit. Gallagher commented upon the process of creating these pieces: "The way that these drawings are made is my version of scrimshaw, the carving into bone that sailors did when they were out whaling. I imagine them in this overwhelming, scary expanse of sea where this kind of cutting would give a focus, a sense of being in control of something." In some of her early pieces, she painted and drew on sheets of penmanship paper she had pasted onto canvas.
Awards and fellowships
Among the honors which Gallagher has earned are:
- Ann Gund Scholarship, Skowhegan School of Art, Skowhegan, ME (1993)
- Traveling Scholar Award, School of MFA, Boston, MA (1993)
- Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center Fellow (1995)
- MacDowell Colony, NH (1996)
- Joan Mitchell Fellowship (1997)
- American Academy Award in Art (2000)
Ellen Gallagher's work has been featured in solo exhibitions at numerous galleries and institutions including:
- Drawing Center, New York, USA Preserve (2001)
- Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, Washington, USA Preserve/Murmur (2004)
- Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Florida, USA, Ellen Gallagher: DeLuXe (2005)
- Freud Museum, London, UK Ellen Gallagher: Ichthyosaurus (2005)
- Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA, Ellen Gallagher: DeLuXe (2005)
- Tate Liverpool, UK, Ellen Gallagher (2007)
- Tate Modern, London, UK AxMe (2013)
- Sara Hilden's Museum, Finland (2013)
- Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2014)
Group exhibitions have included:
- Whitney Biennial, New York City (1995)
- Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland, Projects (1997)
- Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas, USA Negotiating Small Truths (1999)
- P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY, USA Greater New York: New Art in New York Now (2000)
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA New Acquisitions (2000)
- Venice Biennale, Italy 50th International Art Exhibition (2003)
- Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA Heart of Darkness (2006)
- Tate Modern, London, UK Passages from London (2007)
- Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Artist Rooms (2009)
- Whitney Biennial, New York City (2010)
- Centre Pompidou, Paris, France elles@centrepompidou (2010)
- Museum of Modern Art, Arnhem, the Netherlands Six Yards Guaranteed Dutch Design (2011)
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art (2011)
- Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA Print/Out (2011)
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Broad Art Foundation
- Centre Georges Pompidou
- Cleveland Museum of Art
- Harvard Art Museums
- Moderna Museet
- Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
- Museum of Modern Art
- Princeton University Art Museum
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
- Tate Modern
- Whitney Museum of American Art
- Butler, Cornelia, Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2010.
- Barson, Tanya, Gorschlüter, Peter (eds.), Afro Modern: Journeys Through the Black Atlantic, London: Tate Publishing, 2010.
- Ellen Gallagher. Coral Cities, London: Tate Publishing, 2007.
- Gallagher, Ellen, Cleijne, Edgar, Murmur. Water Ecstatic, Kabuki, Blizzard of White, Super Boo, Monster, in: Heart of Darkness, New York NY: Walker Art Centre, 2006. pp. 81–104, ill.
- Riemschneider, Burkhard & Uta Grosenick. Art Now. Cologne: Taschen, 2002.
- De Zegher, Catherine, Jeff Fleming & Robin D.G. Kelley. Preserve. New York: D.A.P., 2002.
- Grosenick, Uta. Women Artists. Cologne: Taschen, 2001. pp. 144–149.
- Coleman, Beth. Ellen Gallagher: Blubber. New York: Gagosian Gallery, 2001.
- Kertess, Klaus, John Ashbery, Gerald M. Edelman et al. 1995 Biennial Exhibition. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art / Harry N. Abrams, 1995.
- Suzanne P. Hudson. ‘1000 Words: Ellen Gallagher’. ArtForum, vol.42, no.8, April 2004, pp. 128–31.
- Chan, Suzanna. "Astonishing Marine Living: Ellen Gallagher's Ichthyosaurus at the Freud Museum," in G. Pollock (ed.) Visual Politics of Psychoanalysis, London: I.B.Tauris, 2013. ISBN 978-1-78076-316-3
- "Ellen Gallagher". Front Row. May 1, 2013. BBC Radio 4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s4qr3. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- U.S. Public Records Index Vol. 1 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), 2010.
- Enwezor, Okwui (May 1996). "Ellen Gallagher". Frieze (28). Retrieved February 13, 2012.
- Van Siclen, Bill (February 21, 2010). "Artist Ellen Gallagher humbled by new honor". The Providence Journal (Providence, Rhode Island). Archived from the original on March 30, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
- "Ellen Gallagher Biography and Links". artnet. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
- "Ellen Gallagher". Public Broadcasting Service: Art21. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
- Lewine, Edward (January 23, 2005). "60 Ways of Looking at a Black Woman". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-04-20.
- Saltz, Jerry (October 12, 2004). "In Black and White". The Village Voice. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
- "Ichthyosaurus". Freud Museum. London. November 2005. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
- Forde, Kate (June–August 2009). "Ellen Gallagher". Frieze (124). Retrieved February 19, 2012.
- "The evolution of African-American consciousness". The Irish Times (via HighBeam Research [subscription required]). October 3, 2007. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
- "Watery Ecstatic Series (2001)". Public Broadcasting Service: Art21. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
- "Ellen Gallagher". Gagosian Gallery. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
- Stone, Nick. "Magnolia Editions – Chuck Close – Ellen". Magnolia Editions. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
- "Ellen Gallagher". Hauser & Wirth. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
- "Ellen Gallagher". ArtCyclopedia. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
- "Gauging the Power of the Print" at The New York Times