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James Surls (born April 19, 1943 in Terrell, Texas) is an American modernist artist. He earned a BS from Sam Houston State University and an MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. In 1998, he moved from Splendora, Texas to Carbondale, Colorado.
He is known for his largely monotone sculptures, drawings and prints that feature natural and human images and forms. Surls' work is particularly organic and primal. Having built a career in the 1980s and 1990s as a Texas artist, Surls relocated to a Colorado ranch and removed his work from for-profit galleries. His work is now represented exclusively by his own studio.
The Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas, Texas), the El Paso Museum of Art (El Paso, Texas), the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art (University of Oklahoma), the Meadows Museum (Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas), the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art (Memphis, Tennessee), the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (Fort Worth, Texas) and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC) are among the public collections holding work by James Surls. Other public collections are: Albright Knox Gallery (Buffalo, NY); American Telephone & Telegraph (New York, NY); Arkansas Art Center (Little Rock, AR); Bennington Museum (Bennington, VT); Contemporary Arts Museum (Houston, TX); Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House (formerly The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu) (Honolulu, HI); Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo (Mexico City, Mexico); Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (Dallas, TX); El Paso Museum of Art (El Paso, TX); Fort Worth Art, Museum (Fort Worth, TX); High Museum (Atlanta, GA); Katonah Museum (Katonah, NY); Liquid Paper Corporation (Dallas, TX); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA); Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX); Memphis Brooks Museum of Art (Memphis, TN); Memphis Museum of Art (Memphis, TN); Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (Chicago, IL); Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (Fort Worth, TX); Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (Montgomery, AL); Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Caracas (Venezuela); Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX); Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY); McNay Art Museum (San Antonio, TX); Nelson-Atkins Museum (Kansas City, MO); Pittsburgh Center for the Arts (Pittsburgh, PA); Portland Art Museum (Portland, OR); San Antonio Art Museum (San Antonio, TX); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA); Seattle Art Museum (Seattle, WA); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY); Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam); Tyler Museum of Art (Tyler, TX); University of Nebraska Art Galleries (Lincoln, NE); Waco Art Center (Waco, TX); Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY); Witte memorial museum (San Antonio, TX).
- Acconci, Vito, Visions of paradise, installations by Vito Acconci, David Ireland, and James Surls, March 24 through April 29, 1984, Cambridge, Mass., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1984.
- Auping, Michael, Structure to resemblance, work by eight American sculptors, June 13 – August 23, 1987, Buffalo, N.Y., Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1987.
- Graze, Sue, Visions: James Surls, 1974–1984, Dallas, Tex., Dallas Museum of Art, 1984.
- Locke, Charmaine, Leonard Shlain, and James Surls, Finding balance, reconciling the masculine/feminine in contemporary art and culture, Houston, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 2006.
- Sultan, Terrie & Eleanor Heartney, James Surls, the Splendora years, 1977–1997, Austin, TX, University of Texas Press, 2005.
- Surls, James, James Surls, embracing paradox, St. Louis, MO, University of Missouri-St. Louis, 2000.
- Surls, James, Jeanne Lil Chvosta, & Fronia W. Simpson, James Surls, in the Meadows and beyond, Dallas, Tex., Meadows Museum, 2004.
- Wortz, Melinda, Face to face, back to back: Jo Harvey Allen, Terry Allen, Milano Kazanjian, Judith E. Simonian, Charmaine Locke, James Surls, Fullerton, CA, Visual Arts Center, California State University, 1984.
- Zimmer, William, Ancient inspirations, six figurative sculptors: Magdalena Abakanowicz, Reuben Kadish, Diana Moore, Linda Peer, Italo Scanga, James Surls, New York, Independent Curators, 1987.
- Points of View (Surls), Houston, Texas (1991)
- James Surls website
- James Surls in ArtCyclopedia
- Jackelope, from the Texas Archive of the Moving Image