Gary Simmons (artist)

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Gary Simmons
Born Gary Simmons
(1964-04-14) April 14, 1964 (age 53)
New York, New York
Nationality American
Education BFA 1988 School of Visual Arts, New York; 1990 The California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, 1988 Skowhegan
Known for Painting, Sculpture, Installation
Awards United States Artists 2007
"Ghoster by Gary Simmons (1997). chalkboard paint, chalk and watercolor varnish on panels

Gary Simmons (born April 14, 1964) is an American artist from New York City. Using icons and stereotypes of American popular culture, he creates works that address personal and collective experiences of race and class. He is best known for his “erasure drawings,” in which he draws in white chalk on slate-painted panels or walls, then smudges them with his hands – a technique that renders their imagery ghostly. Simmons is represented by Metro Pictures Gallery in New York City, and Simon Lee Gallery in London.[1]

Work and exhibitions[edit]

Early work[edit]

Shortly after his graduate studies at CalArts, Simmons found a studio back home at a former vocational school in Manhattan, New York. His space was empty but for several old-fashioned, wooden, rolling classroom chalkboards, which he began using as canvases in a series of early works about mis-education and conceptions of racial and class identity. Interested in the medium's ambiguous and impermanent nature, he worked with chalk on boards or on walls painted with chalkboard paint almost exclusively in the 1990s. In these works, he often borrowed imagery from antique cartoons that depicted black caricatures. In a wall drawing called Wall of Eyes, commissioned for the 1993 Whitney Biennial, the black surface of the board is peppered with bodiless cartoon eyes of different sizes.[2]

Sculpture and installation[edit]

Considering himself primarily a sculptor, Simmons early three-dimensional work incorporated powerfully suggestive symbols of oppression including Ku Klux Klan signs, hoods and nooses. One work, entitled "Duck, Duck Noose" has chairs in a circle with KKK hoods on each one. In the center of the chairs, a noose hangs from the ceiling. One of his large-scale wall drawings was most recently shown at Metro Pictures Gallery in Midnight Matinee, an exhibition of paintings and drawings which, like the installation Split Personality, depict semi-erased black-on-black drawings of settings from 1970's horror films.


His paintings, drawings and sculptures have exhibited throughout the US and internationally at Metro Pictures Gallery,[3] New York; Simon Lee Gallery, London; Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles;[4] Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; SITE Santa Fe; The Studio Museum in Harlem; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, and in private collections including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Portland Art Museum, OR; Saint Louis Art Museum, MO; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami.


  1. ^ Gary Simmons page on
  2. ^ Gary Simmons, published by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2002.
  3. ^ Bio from Metro Pictures Gallery website.
  4. ^ Los Angeles Times, November 2008.

External links[edit]