Laura Owens

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Viewer looking at a Laura Owen's painting
Viewer looking at a Laura Owen's painting

Laura Owens (born 1970 in Euclid, Ohio) is an American painter, gallery owner and educator. She emerged in the late 1990s from the Los Angeles art scene. She is known for large-scale paintings that combine a variety of art historical references and painterly techniques. In 2013, she turned her studio work space into an exhibition space called 356 Mission, in collaboration with art dealer Gavin Brown and Wendy Yao. Soon after, she hosted a second location with the art bookstore Ooga Booga #2 in the front of the building.[1] She lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Owens attended Interlochen Summer Camp during her junior and senior year of high school.[citation needed] She then received her B.F.A. in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1992.[3] After graduation she moved to Los Angeles for graduate school. In 1994 she attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and received her M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts the same year.[4][5]


In January 2013, Owens exhibited 12 new paintings in a building on Mission Road, across the river from Downtown Los Angeles.[6] Owens continues to run 356 Mission as an exhibition space in collaboration with Gavin Brown and Wendy Yao.[7][8]

In 2015, Owens made paintings based on World War II-era newspaper stereotype plates she discovered underneath the shingle siding of her Los Angeles home.[9] Like much of her recent work, the paintings combined traditional oil paint with screen printed images digitally manipulated in Adobe Photoshop.

In addition to painting, Owens also creates artists' books.[10] As of 2016, she teaches classes at ArtCenter College of Design.[11]


Laura Owens paintings at a 2013 exhibit at 356 Mission

Laura Owens and Gavin Brown have been accused of being involved with gentrification of a predominantly working-class, Hispanic neighborhood with their non-profit gallery 356 Mission in the neighborhood of Boyle Heights, on the east side of Los Angeles.[12] Activists of various anti-gentrification groups have protested their galleries and exhibitions in both Los Angeles and New York City.[13] Owens alleges protesters have bullied and threatened her, including death threats.[12] In November 2017, Laura Owens penned a public statement regarding the issues, after her mid-career survey art exhibition opening at the Whitney Museum of American Art was protested.[14]

In May 2018, 356 Mission will close after their 5 year lease comes to an end and the original location of the bookstore Ooga Booga will remain open and is located to Chinatown in Los Angeles.[11]

Awards and honors[edit]

Owens was awarded the inaugural Bâloise Prize at Art Basel in 1999,[15] received the Willard L. Metcalf Award in Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001,[16][17] and was a Guna S. Mundheim Visual Arts Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in the spring of 2007.[18] In 2015 she was awarded the Robert De Niro, Sr. prize for her painting practice.[19]


Owen's work can be found in many public art collections including, the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago;[20] the Museum of Modern Art, New York;[21] the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Los Angeles;[22] the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles;[23] the Guggenheim Museum in New York, New York;[24] the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York;[25] the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Chicago;[26] and the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee.[27]


In 2003 she had her first survey exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Owens’s work has been presented in solo exhibitions at Secession, Vienna (2015); Kunstmuseum Bonn (2011); Bonnefanten Museum (2007); Kunsthalle Zürich (2006); Camden Arts Centre, London (2006); Milwaukee Art Museum (2003); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2003); and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, (2001). She was included in the Whitney Biennial in 2004 and again in 2014. In 2015 Laura Owens showed new paintings in the exhibition Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World at the Museum of Modern Art. Owens had a mid-career survey at the Whitney Museum Of American Art from November 2017 to February 2018[28].

Select solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 2000: Inverleith House, Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh
  • 2001: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, Massachusetts[29]
  • 2003: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (touring)[29]
  • 2003: Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado[29]
  • 2003: Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin[29]
  • 2004: The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia[29]
  • 2004: Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA), North Miami, Florida
  • 2006: Kunsthalle Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland[29]
  • 2006: Camden Arts Centre, London[29]
  • 2007: Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht, The Netherlands[30]
  • 2007: American Academy studio exhibition, Berlin[31]
  • 2007: Ausstellungshalle Zeitgenossische Kunst, Munster[29]
  • 2008: Shanghai Embassy, Shanghai, China
  • 2011: Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, Germany[32]
  • 2015: Secession, Vienna[33]
  • 2016: CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, California[34]
  • 2017: Whitney Museum of American Art[35]
  • 2018: Dallas Museum of Art (DMA)[36]

Select group exhibitions[edit]

  • 1999: New Work: Painting Today, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California
  • 2000: On Canvas: Contemporary Painting from the Collection, Guggenheim Museum, New York
  • 2001: Public Offerings, MOCA, Los Angeles, CA, curated by Paul Schimmel (cat.)
  • 2002: Cavepainting: Peter Doig, Chris Ofili, Laura Owens, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, California (cat.)
  • 2002: Urgent Painting, Musee d’ Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris (cat.)
  • 2003: Painting Pictures: Painting and Media in the Digital Age, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (cat.)
  • 2004: Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (cat.)
  • 2005: After Cezanne, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California
  • 2006: The Fluidity of Time: Selections from the MCA Collection, MCA, Chicago, Illinois
  • 2008: Collecting Collections: Highlights from the Permanent Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California
  • 2011: The Artist's Museum, MOCA, Los Angeles, California
  • 2013: Yes, No, Maybe: Artists Working at Crown Point Press, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
  • 2014: The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
  • 2014: Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York (cat.)
  • 2015: Painting after Technology, Tate Modern, London
  • 2016: La collection Thea Westreich Wagner et Ethan Wagner, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris[37]


  1. ^ Tarmy, James (2015-03-30). "If You Go to Only One Gallery in L.A., Go Here". Retrieved 2016-03-16. 
  2. ^ "Collection Online: Laura Owens". Guggenheim Museum. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Retrieved 2016-11-27. 
  3. ^ "The Forever Now". Our RISD. Retrieved 2017-08-03. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Laura Owens Biography". Retrieved 2016-11-27. 
  6. ^ Lehrer-Graiwer, Sarah. "Optical Drive." Artforum International 51.7 (2013): 230-239.
  7. ^ "If You Go To Only One Gallery in LA, Go Here". Bloomberg. Retrieved 17 February 2016. 
  8. ^ "356 Mission". Retrieved 2017-01-04. 
  9. ^ "Laura Owens July 2 - August 30, 2015". Secession. Retrieved 17 February 2016. 
  10. ^ "". Retrieved 17 February 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Miranda, Carolina A. (2018-03-30). "Artist-run space 356 Mission is leaving Boyle Heights. Founders Laura Owens and Wendy Yao explain why". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018-04-28. 
  12. ^ a b "Laura Owens Responds To Anti-Gentrification Protesters, Cites Death Threats". Frieze. 2017-11-17. Retrieved 2017-11-19. 
  13. ^ "Anti-Gentrification Activists Protest Laura Owens Exhibition at the Whitney Museum". Hyperallergic. 2017-11-10. Retrieved 2017-11-19. 
  14. ^ "Laura Owens Responds to Anti-Gentrification Protests of Her Boyle Heights Gallery". Hyperallergic. 2017-11-14. Retrieved 2017-11-19. 
  15. ^ "Baloise Art Prize" (PDF). Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  16. ^ " Magazine News". Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  17. ^ "American Academy of Arts and Letters - Award Winners". Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  18. ^ "Laura Owens". American Academy in Berlin. Retrieved 2016-03-30. 
  19. ^ "Laura Owens Wins 2015 Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize". Artforum. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  20. ^ "Collection: Owens, Laura". The Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 2016-11-27. 
  21. ^ "Laura Owens". The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Retrieved 2016-11-27. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Tuchman, Phyllis (2018-01-04). "The Sky Is the Limit: Laura Owens Is in Top Form in Superb Whitney Museum Retrospective". ARTnews. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h "Dallas Museum of Art Presents Nationally Touring Exhibition 'Laura Owens,' a Mid-Career Survey of the American Artist". ArtfixDaily. Retrieved 2018-04-28. 
  30. ^ Villarreal, Ignacio. "Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht Presents Laura Owens". Retrieved 2016-04-21. 
  31. ^ "Artist Talk with Laura Owens". American Academy in Berlin. Retrieved 2016-04-21. 
  32. ^ "LAURA OWENS: Kunstmuseum Bonn". Retrieved 2016-04-21. 
  33. ^ "Laura Owens « secession". Retrieved 2016-04-21. 
  34. ^ "Laura Owens at CCA Wattis Institute a pulse-quickening experience". SFGate. Retrieved 2017-11-19. 
  35. ^ Tuchman, Phyllis (2018-01-04). "The Sky Is the Limit: Laura Owens Is in Top Form in Superb Whitney Museum Retrospective". ARTnews. Retrieved 2018-03-09. 
  36. ^ "DMA Explores Artist's Evolution During Dallas Arts Month". NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth. Retrieved 2018-04-28. 
  37. ^ Villarreal, Ignacio. "Whitney Museum of American Art presents Collected by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner". Retrieved 2018-04-28. 

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