Lyle Ashton Harris

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Lyle Ashton Harris
Born (1965-02-06) February 6, 1965 (age 50)
Bronx, New York
Nationality American
Education Wesleyan University 1988, BFA, California Institute of the Arts 1990, MFA
Known for Photography

Lyle Ashton Harris (born 1965) is an American artist who has cultivated a diverse artistic practice ranging from photographic media, collage, installation art and performance art.

Life and works[edit]

Born in the Bronx, Harris was raised between New York City and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. He graduated with a BA from Wesleyan University and received his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.

In January of 1993, "Face: Lyle Ashton Harris" was exhibited at the New Museum. The installation combined photography, video and an audio track offering a critique of masculinity and explore constructions of sexuality, race, and gender.[1] In the fall of 1994, Harris exhibited The Good Life in New York. The show was composed of large format Polaroids depicting staged and impromptu photographs of friends and family members.[2] One of the most notable works from the show is a triptych series in collaboration with his brother, Thomas Allen Harris, entitled "Brotherhood, Crossroads, Etcetera". The work weaves a complex visual allegory that invokes ancient African cosmologies, Judeo-Christian myths, and taboo public and private desires.[3]

Collage has remained an integral part of Harris's studio practice since the mid-1990s. In 1996, "The Watering Hole", a photomontage series, reveals his performative use of photography and its mechanisms, putting image into a field of representation where they reveal hidden or repressed occurrences.[4]

In 2004, "Blow Up", Harris's first public wall collage was shown at the Rhona Hoffman gallery in Chicago. This led to a series of three other wall collages composed of materials, photographs and ephemera Harris collected including, Blow UP IV (Sevilla) which was made for the Bienal de Arte Contemporeano de Sevilla in Seville, Spain in 2006.[4]

In 2010 Gregory R. Miller & Co. published Excessive Exposure. The publication is the most definitive documentation of Harris' "Chocolate-Colored" portraits made with a large-format Polaroid camera over the past ten years.[5] In 2011, the Studio Museum in Harlem exhibited some of these portraits, highlighting specific individual subjects.

Lyle Ashton Harris is represented by CRG Gallery in New York City. He currently divides his time between his home and studio in New York and Accra, Ghana.


  1. ^ New Museum archive "Face: Lyle Ashton Harris". 
  2. ^ Golden, Thelma (1994). Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art. New York, NY: Whitney Museum of American Art. ISBN 0-8109-6816-9. 
  3. ^ Katz, Jonathan D. (2010). Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 1-58834-299-9. 
  4. ^ a b Coblentz, Cassandra (2008). Lyle Ashton Harris: Blow Up. New York, NY: Gregory R. Miller & Co. ISBN 0-9743648-9-4. 
  5. ^ Enwezor, Okwui (2010). Lyle Ashton Harris: Excessive Exposure. New York, NY: Gregory R. Miller & Co. ISBN 0-9743648-7-8. 

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