Dennis Adams

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For the South African boxer of the 1950s and '60s, see Dennis Adams (boxer).
Dennis Adams
Adams 2012 malraux (2).JPG
Dennis Adams, Malraux's Shoes, 2012
Born Dennis Adams
United States
Nationality American
Known for Photography, public sculpture, installation, film

Dennis Adams (b. 1948 Des Moines, Iowa) is an American artist internationally recognized for his urban interventions and museum installations that reveal historical and political undercurrents in photography, cinema, public space and architecture.


Dennis Adams emerged by the 1980s through his urban interventions and museum installations that reveal historical and political undercurrents of our collective memory both in the United States and Europe, best documented in the monograph entitled Dennis Adams: The Architecture of Amnesia (1989). Beginning in 1999, Adams began to explore the medium of video and social engagement with projects such as OUTTAKE (1999), Makedown (2004), Spill (2009) and most recently Malraux’s Shoes (2012).[1]


From the metamorphosis of Patricia Hearst to the SLA, and back again, to the trial of Klaus Barbie, from the omissions and distortions of Joseph McCarthy to the execution of the Rosenbergs, Adams has singled out controversial figures and events from our not-too-distant past that, if buried underneath layers of silence, still carry an explosive charge. Over the past four decades, Adams has produced site-specific works, often in highly visible locations such as bus shelters, and urban public settings that focus on the phenomenon of collective amnesia in the late twentieth century. A survey of ten years of site-specific interventions was published in a monograph entitled Dennis Adams: The Architecture of Amnesia (1989) written by Maryanne Staniszewski. The publication was followed by two mid-career surveys organized by the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen and the Contemporary Art Museum of Houston.

Beginning in 1998, Adams began to explore the possibilities of video with a project entitled OUTTAKE shown in Bremen, Berlin and with Kent in New York. Adams presented a 17:23-second segment (416 film stills) of the un-telecast German documentary on delinquent girls in state orphanages entitled Bambule directed by Ulrike Meinhof in 1969. These photographic stills were re-recorded as they were distributed in the Kurfurstendamm, Berlin, as "handbills," or "flyers," associated with political propaganda and advertising.

Following the events of September 11 near his Tribeca studio, Adams created a poetic series of fourteen Ektachrome photographs portraying the detritus filled sky over lower Manhattan. The series was entitled AIRBORNE which after being shown in New York in 2002 was subsequently featured in the Le Mois de la Photo (Montreal) 2003 and PhotoEspana (Madrid) 2004.

In a recent project, MAKE DOWN (2005) Adams addresses the complexity of layers of representation contained in one cinematic fragment from The Battle of Algiers, particularly in the context of the ongoing transformations of the historical conflict between Islamic and Western cultures. Instead of presuming to unravel these meanings, Adams chooses instead to locate himself between the frames of the image in a re-enactment of the process of disguise.

Adams has been a faculty member or Visiting Professor at numerous institutions including: Parsons School of Design, École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam, and the Akademie der Bildenden Kunst, Munich. From 1997 to 2004, he was the Director of the Visual Arts Program in the School of Architecture at MIT in Cambridge, MA. He currently lectures at Cooper Union, New York.

He is represented by Kent Fine Art[2] in New York City, Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie in Paris, and Galeria Moises Perez de Albeniz in Pamplona

Artist books[edit]

  • Adams, Dennis, and Mary A. Staniszewski. The Architecture of Amnesia. New York, N.Y: Kent Fine Art, 1990.[3]
  • Adams, Dennis. Dennis Adams: Double Feature. New York, N.Y: Kent Fine Art, 2008.[4]
  • Recovered 10 on 10 – Adams on Garanger, produced and published in 1993 by Les Maîtres de Forme Contemporains (mfc-michèle didier), Bruxelles. Limited edition of 6 numbered and signed copies and 3 artist's proofs. Voir mfc

Selected exhibitions[edit]

  • 1984 Solo Exhibit, the Kitchen, New York
  • 1987 "Skulptur Projekte Münster", Westfälisches Landesmuseum, Münster, Germany
  • 1987 "Building Against Image" (retrospective), The Alternative Museum, New York
  • 1988 Solo Exhibit, De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam
  • 1988 "Bezugspunkte 38/88", Steirischer Herbst, Graz, Austria
  • 1989 "Magiciens de la terre", Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, and La Grande Halle, Parc de la Villette, Paris[5]
  • 1989 "Image World: Art and Media Culture", Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
  • 1989 "Images Critiques: Adams, Jaar, Jammes, Wall", Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris
  • 1989 "Tenir l’image à distance", Musée D’art Contemporain, Montréal
  • 1990 Architecture of Amnesia, Kent Fine Art, New York
  • 1990 "WORKS: Dennis Adams”, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.[6]
  • 1990 "Passages de l’image", Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
  • 1990 "Rhetorical Image", The New Museum, New York
  • 1990 "The Ready Made Boomerang", Sydney Biennale, Australia
  • 1991 "Road to Victory", PROJECT Series, Museum of Modern Art, New York[7]
  • 1991 "The Solar Anus", Musée Frac Bretagne, Rennes, France.
  • 1992 "Post Human", FAE Musée d'Art Contemporain, Pully/Lausanne, Switzerland; traveled to: Castello di Rivoli, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Torino; Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens; Deichtorhallen Hamburg[8]
  • 1993 “Der Müll, ( ) Unde Der Tod", Portikus, Frankfurt am Main
  • 1994 "Selling History" (retrospective), Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston
  • 1994 "Transactions" (retrospective), Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen
  • 1995 "Light Constructions", Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • 1995 "10 thru 20" (solo exhibition), Stroom HCBK, The Hague
  • 1996 "Ederle", Queens Museum of Art, New York
  • 1999 "Panorama 2000", Organized by Centraal Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 2000 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of Art, New York
  • 2001 "Hortus Conclusus", Witte de With, Rotterdam
  • 2001 Solo Exhibit, Contemporary Museum Baltimore in collaboration with the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
  • 2002 "Video topiques/Tours et Retours de l'Art Vidéo", Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg, France
  • 2003 "Warum", Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin
  • 2004 "Ambulates/Cultura Portátil: Actitudes y Prototipos en el Espacio público", Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo of Sevilla, Spain
  • 2004 “Freeload”, Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, Barcelona[9]
  • 2005 "Make Down", Kent Fine Art, New York City[10]
  • 2005 "Regarding Terror: The RAF- Exhibition", Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin and Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz
  • 2007 "Filles rebelles". Frac Nord-Pas de Calais, Dunkerque, France
  • 2008 "Blickmaschinen", Museum Für Gegenwartskunst, Siegen, Germany[11]
  • 2008 "Revolutions 1968", Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw
  • 2008 Double Feature, Kent Fine Art, New York
  • 2009 "Evento 2009: Collective Intimacy", Bordeaux, France[12]
  • 2009 "Walls of Algiers: Narratives of the Colonial City", The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles[13]
  • 2010 "How Wine Became Modern", San Francisco Museum of Modern Art[14]
  • 2010 "La Memoria del Otro"; Museo Internacional de Chile, traveled to Centro de Arte Contempráneo Wifredo Lam, Havana[15]
  • 2011 "Uncanny Familiarity: Images of Terror", C/O Berlin[16]
  • 2012 "Malraux's Shoes", Kent Fine Art, New York[17]
  • 2015 "Looking Back / The 9the White Columns Annual", White Columns, New York

Selected bibliography[edit]

Written by Adams[edit]

  • Adams, Dennis. "Questionnaire." Zone 1–2, 1986, pp. 423, 455.
  • Adams, Dennis. "Sky Writing." Historias: VII Edición del Festival Internacional de Fotografia y Artes Visuales PhotoEspaña. Catalogue. Madrid: 2004, pp. 63–66, 168–170.
  • Adams, Dennis. "Double Feature." New York: Kent Fine Art, 2008.[18]

Written about Adams[edit]

  • D’Agostino, Peter, and Lew Thomas, eds. "Still Photography: the problematic model". San Francisco: NFS Press, 1981, pp. 111–115.
  • Kozloff, Max. “Through the Narrative Portal.” Artforum, April 1986, pp. 86–97
  • Indiana, Gary. “Dennis Adams at Nature Morte.” Art in America, January 1987, pp. 133–34.
  • Phillips, Patricia C. “Adams, Jaar, Wodiczko des images parasites.” Artpress, March 1988, pp. 17–20.
  • Brenson, Michael.“He Challenges a Privileged Point of View.” New York Times, March 13, 1988, sec. 2, pp. 35, 38.
  • Leffingwell, Edward, and Karen Marta, eds. Modern Dreams: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Pop. New York: The Clocktower Gallery, The Institute for Contemporary Art, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London: MIT Press, 1988, pp. 6, 9, 110–117.
  • Heartney, Eleanor. “Street Scenes.” Art in America, April 1989, pp. 230–37, 277.
  • Sans, Jérôme. “An Interview with Dennis Adams.” Flash Art, Summer, 1989, pp. 129–31.
  • Durand, Régis. "La Part de l’ombre: Essais sur l’expérience photographique". Paris: La Différence, 1990, pp. 196–202.
  • "The Architecture of Amnesia". New York: Kent Fine Art, 1990. Essay by Mary Anne Staniszewski. (catalog)
  • Funken, Peter. "Strategie & Rhetorik: Dennis Adams, John Baldessari und Jochen Gerz.” Artefactum, April–May 1990, pp. 49–50.
  • Richard, Paul. “‘Archive’ of a Hidden Washington, at Hirshhorn.” The Washington Post, April 25, 1990, pp. B1, B10.
  • Cooke, Lynne. “Dennis Adams.” Galeries Magazine, February–March 1991, pp. 88–91, 144.
  • Faust, Gretchen. “Dennis Adams: MOMA.” Arts Magazine, April 1991, pp. 97–98.
  • Goldmann, Daniela. “Kontradiktionen der Kunst: Daniela Goldmann im Gespräch mit Dennis Adams.” Noema Art Journal, October/November 1991, pp. 58–65.
  • Abramović, Marina. “Dennis Adams: Franck & Schulte.” Flash Art, Summer 1992, pp. 122–23.
  • "Port of View". Marseille: L’observatoire, 1992. (catalog).
  • Smith, Roberta. “Exploring the World’s-Fair Mentality.” The New York Times, June 28, 1996, p. C33.
  • Novakov, Anna, ed. "Carnal Pleasures/Desire, Public Space and Contemporary Art". San Francisco: Clamor Editions, 1998. pp. 122–135.
  • Staniszewski, Mary Anne. "The Power of Display. A History of Exhibition Installations at the Museum of Modern Art". Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1998, pp. 296–298.
  • Cotter, Holland. “Outtake. A Public Project by Dennis Adams.” New York Times, January 15, 1999, p. E 42.
  • Alberro, Alexander. “Dennis Adams: Kent Gallery.” Artforum, May 1999, p. 178.
  • Beros, Nada. “Street Ventriloquist/An Interview with Dennis Adams.” Artpress, December 1999, pp. 24–29.
  • "Dennis Adams". Pamplona: Galería Moisés Pérez de Albéniz, 2004. (catalog)
  • Kolbowski, Silvia. “Freeload/Interview with Dennis Adams.” Scapes, no. 4, Fall 2005, pp. 27–32.
  • "Double Feature". New York: Kent Gallery. 2008. (artist book)
  • Celik, Zeynep, Clancy-Smith, Julia and Terpak, Frances, eds. "Walls of Algiers/Narratives of the City Through Text andImage". Los Angeles: The Getty Research Institute and University of Washington, Seattle and London, 2009, pp. 7, 8–9, 10-11f.


External links[edit]