Los Angeles, California
|Education||Yale University, University of Southern California Roski School of Fine Arts|
Alex Israel (born 1982) is a multimedia artist, writer, and eyewear designer born and based in Los Angeles. His work includes large, colorful airbrushed paintings of abstract gradients and Los Angeles skies, his self-portraits, painted on shaped fiberglass panels, and multimedia installations constructed from movie-house props.
Early life and education
The son of a real estate developer, Israel grew up in Westwood alongside two sisters. He attended Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City before completing his undergraduate studies at Yale University in 2003. While at Yale, Israel missed LA, and was eager to return to the west coast. His first summer back from Yale, he worked part-time as an intern for the conceptual artist John Baldessari, and for Ann Goldstein, who was a curator at MOCA at the time. Later, he worked as an assistant at the gallery Blum & Poe before moving to New York to work at Sotheby’s auction house. After working for the artist Jason Rhoades, followed by a brief stint as a salesperson for Hauser & Wirth, he ultimately decided that his passion lied in creating, not selling, art. He went on to receive a M.F.A. from the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Fine Arts in 2010.
Selected museum collections
Work by Alex Israel is included in the collections of the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Holland, MOCA, Los Angeles, CA, LACMA, Los Angeles, CA, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, MoMA, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo.
AS IT LAYS
Between July 2011 and May 2012, Israel produced a web series called, “AS IT LAYS,” in which he interviews 33 LA celebrities in an unresponsive, deadpan persona. The diverse group of subjects includes Rachel Zoe, Oliver Stone, Perez Hilton, Michael Chow, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Marilyn Manson. The first thirty videos were shot in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, and on location at the subjects’ homes and offices. The series premiered during an exhibition at Reena Spauldings Fine Art March 11 through April 8, 2012. The first thirty videos were released online.
On May 19, 2012, The MOCA LA presented the series as a special one-night screening and performance event. In between screenings of video portraits, Israel created three additional interviews with surprise guests Laird Hamilton, Molly Ringwald and Melanie Griffith, in front of the live audience. Israel’s introduction to each interview is comically well rehearsed and he refuses to acknowledge the interviewee’s responses or ask follow-up questions, no matter how deep or thought-provoking the answers are. Instead, he works through a set of pre-made questions that he has written on flashcards. The questions range from “Are you more sympathetic to vampires or werewolves?” to “What kind of milk do you buy at the grocery store?” and are meant to reveal his subjects' personal effects and characteristics.
Easter Island Venice Beach (sculpture and web series)
From July 13–15, 2012, “Easter Island Venice Beach” was erected in the recreational area of Venice Beach as part of the Hammer Museum’s Venice Beach Biennial. Curated by Ali Subotnik, the installation plays off of the moai, large, monolithic human figures carved between 1250 and 1500 A.D. on Easter Island in the southeastern Pacific Island. Israel says that he was inspired when he found four giant replicas of the sculptures at a prop house in Hollywood a few years earlier.
The first of his video series, produced in 2010, invites viewers to “watch and follow the lives of jaded young adults as they navigate the golden light and melancholic shadows of life in the magical dreamscape of Los Angeles.” The dialogue-free series is composed of a trailer and ten clips between two and six minutes long. Modeled after Southern California-set shows like Laguna Beach, and Beverly Hills 90210, his series examines the stereotype of disaffected LA youth. The trailer was displayed on a videotron along Sunset Boulevard during the summer of 2010.
Israel’s latest project, SPF18, is a feature-length teen surf film and multi-platform project. The film will initially be screened at high schools around the country. Israel hopes that the coming-of-age story will be able to reach and inspire young adults; a group that he feels has never been enfranchised by the art world. He plans to distribute his own brand of sunscreen named Icarus, along with the release.
Freeway Eyewear, founded by Alex Israel, debuted its original seven styles in spring of 2010. The brand draws inspiration from freeways. The first six styles take their name from freeways, 1– Pacific Coast Highway, 10– Santa Monica Freeway, 15- Interstate 15, 101– El Camino Real, 110– Harbor Freeway, and 405– San Diego Freeway, while the seventh, LA Rays, pays tribute to Ray-Ban, a popular eyewear brand.
Alex said via interview in 2013:
“My sunglasses are not my art, it’s just a sunglasses brand, and it’s important for me to be clear about that; that not everything that I do has to be art. I like working in different platforms, I’m interested in various media, sometimes its art and sometimes its not. But when it came down to making my sunglasses it was really important to me that they drove the same vocabulary of references that was inspiring my work. A lot of those things relate to the aesthetics that are very regional in southern California.” The sunglasses are presumably offered for sale on the internet.
Solo and two-person
Alex Israel. New Holland, Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Alex Israel: Lens. LAXART, Los Angeles CA.
The Shell (Landscapes, Portraits & Shapes). Almine Rech Gallery, Paris, France.
Platform. Almine Rech Gallery, Brussels, Belgium.
Rockaway! Fort Tilden and Rockaway Beach, New York, NY.
2013: Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream. Greene Naftali, New York, NY.
After Hours 2: Murals on the Bowery. Presented by Art Production Fund, The Bowery, New York, NY.
Transforming the known. Bert Kreuk Collection, Gemeente Museum, The Hague, Netherlands.
Out of Memory, curated by Eleanor Cayre. Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, NY.
Looking Back/The 7th White Columns Anuual, selected by Richard Birkett, White Columns, New York, NY.
From The Collection: 2013 Exhibition. De La Cruz Collection, Miami, FL.
2012: Hammer Museum's Venice Beach Biennial, Curated by Ali Subotnick, Los Angeles, CA.
2011: Greater L.A. New York, NY.
2008: Psychology of a Pawn, curated by Mari Spirito. Participant Inc., New York, NY.
2005: Don't Accept Manana, Curated by Karola Grasslin. Kunstverein Braunschweig,Brunswick, Germany.
2008: Endless Summer, in Association with the 2008 California Biennial. Glendale College Art Gallery, Glendale, CA.
2004: Cool Intentions, Sandroni Rey, Los Angeles, CA.
- Baun, Gary, L.A.'s Most Sought-After Artist Works Out of Warner Bros.' Backlot "Like a Trojan Horse,” Hollywood reporter.com
- "Fashion, Celebrities, Parties & Art". W Magazine. 2017-05-16. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
- Fund, Art Productuion. "ALEX ISRAEL". Art Production Fund. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
- Alex Israel Biography, gagosian.com
- "As It Lays : Alex Israel" (PDF). Reenaspaulings.com. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
- "As It Lays". As It Lays. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
- "As It Lays". asitlays.com. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Easter Island Venice Beach video, Easterislandvenicebeach.com
- "Chile's #1 Tailored and Vacations Travel Agent > » Easter Island". LetsGoChile. 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
- School of Doodle, The Weird Places That Have Inspired Alex Israel, Medium.com
- "Rough Winds". Roughwinds.com. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Wolkoff, Julia (2013-07-18). "Alex Israel - Reviews - Art in America". Artinamericamagazine.com. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
- Alex Israel: SPF18, Production/Acquisition Grant, Viaartfun.org
- Bagley, Christopher, Alex Israel: Stars in his Eyes, W Magazine
- "About". Freeway Eyewear. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
- Numéro 154:‘Mode: Alex Israel’, by Benny Horne, June & July 2014, Amine Rech Gallery, Alminerech.com
- "Using Walls, Floors, and Ceilings: Alex Israel". The Jewish Museum. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
- Astrup Fearnley Museet. "#AlexIsrael - Astrup Fearnley Museet". Afmuseet.no. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
- Press Release - Contemporary Art by Alex Israel to Be Installed in Historic Huntington Art Gallery, in Site-Specific Intervention, Nov 5, 2015, Huntington.org
- Center, Nasher Sculpture. "Sightings: Alex Israel October 24, 2015 - January 31, 2016 - Exhibition - Nasher Sculpture Center". Nashersculpturecenter.org. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "Alex Israel | Almine Rech Gallery". Alminerech.com. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
- Alex Israel and Josh Smith Will Stage a One Day Show at Reena Spaldings on Sunday, Artnews.com
- "Kathryn Andrews - Alex Israel - January 16 - March 15, 2014 - Gagosian". Gagosian.com. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "STILL LIFE - Exhibitions - Nahmad Contemporary". Nahmadcontemporary.com. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Alex Israel Press Release, Carl Kostyal Gallery, Kostyal.com
- "NH_press_ENG" (PDF). Newhollandsp.ru. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
- "LA><ART". laxart.org. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Take Me I’m Yours, The Jewish Museum, Thejewishmuseum.org
- "Open Source: Art at the Eclipse of Capitalism". Artuner.com. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "The Shell (Landscapes, Portraits & Shapes) - A show by Eric Troncy - Almine Rech Gallery". Almine Rech Gallery. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "The Los Angeles Project". UCCA. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
- "Almine Rech Gallery". Alminerech.com. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
- "MoMA PS1: Rockaway!". Momaps1.org. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Vivero, Joseph. "Lies about Painting - artBahrain.org". artbahrain.org. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "Transforming the Known". Gemeentemuseum. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Out of Memory Press Release, Marianneboesky.com
- Venice Beach Biennial, Hammer Museum, hammer.ucla.edu
- Standard Operating Procedures Press Release, Blumandpoe.com
- "Kunstverein - Braunschweig - Rückblick". Kunstverein-bs.de. Retrieved 2017-05-22.