Ellen Gallagher

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ellen Gallagher
Born Ellen R. Gallagher
(1965-12-16) December 16, 1965 (age 49)
Providence, Rhode Island
Nationality American
Known for
  • Painting
  • Mixed media
Movement Contemporary art
from the BBC programme Front Row, May 1, 2013.[1]

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Ellen Gallagher (born December 16, 1965)[2] is an American artist. Her work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions and is held in the permanent collections of many major museums.

Background and education[edit]

Gallagher was born on December 16, 1965 in Providence, Rhode Island. Referred to as African American,[3] 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.[4]

Gallagher studied writing at Oberlin College in Ohio[4] (1982–84). Then she attended Studio 70 in Fort Thomas, Kentucky in 1989[5] before earning a degree in fine arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1992.[4] Her art education further continued in 1993 at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine.[5]

Ellen Gallagher, Wiglette from "DeLuxe" 2004-2005


Gallagher's influences include the paintings of Agnes Martin and the repetitive writings of Gertrude Stein.[6] Some of Gallagher's work involves repetitively modifying advertising found in African American focused publications such as Ebony, Sepia, and Our World.[6] Her most famous pieces are her grid-like collages of magazines grouped together into larger pieces.[7] 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.[8]

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.[6][9][10] This mythology had been conceived by a musical duo of that name, from Detroit.[11] 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."[12] In some of her early pieces, she painted and drew on sheets of penmanship paper she had pasted onto canvas.[6]

In 1995, Gallagher's work was exhibited at the Whitney Biennial and the Venice Biennale in 2003.[13]

Famed artist Chuck Close created a 2009 tapestry portrait of Gallagher.[14] She is based in the United States (New York City) and the Netherlands (Rotterdam).[5]

Awards and fellowships[edit]

Among the honors which Gallagher has earned are:[15]

  • 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)

Selected exhibitions[edit]

Ellen Gallagher's work has been featured in solo exhibitions at numerous galleries and institutions including:[5]

Group exhibitions have included:[5]


Gallagher's work is sought out by museums,[4] and her pieces are held in many permanent collections including:[4][13][17]

Further reading[edit]

  • Butler, Cornelia, Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2010. OCLC 501397424
  • 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


  1. ^ "Ellen Gallagher". Front Row. May 1, 2013. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved January 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ U.S. Public Records Index Vol. 1 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), 2010.
  3. ^ Enwezor, Okwui (May 1996). "Ellen Gallagher". Frieze (28). Retrieved February 13, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e 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. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Ellen Gallagher Biography and Links". artnet. Retrieved February 13, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Ellen Gallagher". Public Broadcasting Service: Art21. Retrieved February 13, 2012. 
  7. ^ Lewine, Edward (January 23, 2005). "60 Ways of Looking at a Black Woman". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  8. ^ Saltz, Jerry (October 12, 2004). "In Black and White". The Village Voice. Retrieved February 13, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Ichthyosaurus". Freud Museum. London. November 2005. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  10. ^ Forde, Kate (June–August 2009). "Ellen Gallagher". Frieze (124). Retrieved February 19, 2012. 
  11. ^ "The evolution of African-American consciousness". The Irish Times (via HighBeam Research [subscription required]). October 3, 2007. Retrieved April 25, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Watery Ecstatic Series (2001)". Public Broadcasting Service: Art21. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b "Ellen Gallagher". Gagosian Gallery. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  14. ^ Stone, Nick. "Magnolia Editions – Chuck Close – Ellen". Magnolia Editions. Retrieved February 23, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Ellen Gallagher". Hauser & Wirth. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  16. ^ Drawing Center exhibitions Ellen Gallagher. March 02, 2002 - April 20, 2002.
  17. ^ "Ellen Gallagher". ArtCyclopedia. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 

External links[edit]