Petah Coyne

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Petah Coyne
Born 1953
Oklahoma City
Education Art Academy of Cincinnati, Kent State University
Known for Sculpture
Awards Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for Sculpture (1998), John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1989)[1]
Dante's Inferno (Black Cloud) sculpture by Petah Coyne

Petah Coyne is a contemporary American sculptor and photographer. She is known for her large-scale sculptures composed of unconventional, and often organic, materials.[3] Some of her works are in the permanent collections of museums and galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Toledo Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Corcoran Gallery of Art,[4] and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.[5]

Early Life and Education[edit]

Coyne was born in Oklahoma City in 1953 to a military family that moved several times before settling in Dayton, OH when she was twelve.[2][3] Coyne was home-schooled and as a teenager took courses at the University of Dayton.[2][3] She attended Kent State University from 1972-1973 and then the Art Academy of Cincinnati, from which she graduated in 1977.[6]


She lives and works in New York and New Jersey.[7] Her most recent solo exhibition at the Mass MoCA (May 29, 2010)[8] features large-scale mixed-media sculptures along with silver gelatin print photographs. Coyne layers wax-soaked materials such as pearls, ribbons and silk flowers into large sculptural forms, often incorporating taxidermied birds and animals.[3]

"The works in this largest retrospective of the artist’s work to date range from her earlier and more abstract sculptures using industrial materials to newer works made of delicate wax. All of Coyne’s works take inspiration from personal stories, film, literature and political events. Coyne takes these sources and applies a Baroque sense of decadent refinement, imbuing her work with a magical quality to evoke intensely personal associations. Together these diverse yet intimately connected periods of Coyne’s practice make evident an evolution, which highlights the artist’s own blend of symbolism alongside an innovative use of materials including black sand, car parts, wax, satin ribbons, trees, silk flowers, and taxidermy."

- Mass MoCA[9]

According to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art,[10]

"Coyne belongs to a generation of sculptors—many of them women—who came of age in the late 1980s and forever changed the muscular practice of sculpture with their new interest in nature and a penchant for painstaking craftsmanship, domestic references and psychological metaphor."

— Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Unforgiven sculpture by Petah Coyne

"So that's what I'm trying to do with the white wax pieces I'm doing now - they're about those times that are almost perfect but not quite. You go searching to meet them again, and you're all excited, and it's never quite the same - but you always have the memory. So it's not just about people passing, it's more about friendships that have gone awry or people who have strayed. Just basically, humanity. That's what all these pieces are about.

I wanted to shift away from black, and I didn't know what I wanted to do, so I began to work with Irene Hultman. We did this whole installation, half black, half white, and there was also a performance in which she wore the pieces, or her dancers did. A lot of them come out of hat shapes or chandeliers. The wax is not a normal wax, it's made by a chemist so that it won't melt except at very high temperatures. It can get up to 180 degrees before it melts. In the summer my studio can get up to 120, 125, and in the winter I don't have heat so it's very cold. So these pieces have to be able to freeze."
— Petah Coyne March 24, 1994. In her Studio, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
- Petah Coyne March 24, 1994. In her studio, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Selected Exhibitions[edit]

Solo Exhibitions[11]


Petah Coyne: Everything That Rises Must Converge. Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA


Petah Coyne. Cincinnati Art Museum


Fairy Tales. Butler Gallery, Kilkenny Castle, Ireland; catalogue


Fairy Tales. Galerie Lelong, New York


Black/White/Black. Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., (travelling)


Petah Coyne, Black and White, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and High Museum of Art, Atlanta; catalogue
Photographs, Laurence Miller Gallery, New York


Sculpture, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York


Petah Coyne, Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art; catalogue


Grand Lobby Installation, Brooklyn Museum of Art


Untitled Installation, Sculpture Center, New York
Special Projects, The Institute for Art and Urban Resources, P.S. 1, Long Island City, New York
Group Exhibitions[11]


Art Basel


Artists Take on Detroit: Projects for the Tricentennial. Detroit, 2001


Glen Dimplex Artist’s Award, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; catalogue


Millennium Messages, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibitions, organized by the Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, New York; catalogue
Domestic Pleasures, Galerie Lelong, New York
Drawing in the Present Tense, Parsons School of Design, New York; catalogue


Preview, Review, Galerie Lelong, New York
House of Wax, The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati


Selections from the Collections, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Permanent Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego
Neuberger Museum of Art 1997 Biennial Exhibition of Public Art, Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York; catalogue


A Selection of Gifts to the Collection from Lily AuchinclossLily Auchincloss, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Partners in Printmaking, Works from Solo Impressions, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.


Object Lessons: Feminine Dialogues with the Surreal, Massachusetts College of Art, Huntington Gallery, Boston


In the Lineage of Eva Hesse, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut
Prints from Solo Impressions, The College of Wooster Art Museum, Ohio; catalogue


Thirtieth Anniversary Exhibition of Drawings, Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
"Monumental Propaganda, Institute of Contemporary Art, Moscow


MiaHaus, Thread Waxing Space, New York
Natural Forces/Human Observations, Charlotte Crosby Kemper Gallery, Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri


Award in the Visual Arts, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.


Art Contemporain, Visions – 90, Centre International d’Art Contemporain de Montréal; catalogue
Detritus: Transformation and Re-Construction, Jack Tilton Gallery, New York


The Emerging Figure, Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida; catalogue


Elements, Whitney Museum of American Art, Equitable Center, New York
Sculpture, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Standing Ground: Sculpture by American Women, The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; catalogue
Alternative Supports: Contemporary Sculpture on the Wall, David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island; catalogue


Bodies and Dreams, White Columns, New York
Sydney Blum/Petah Coyne/Beverly Fishman, P.S. 122, New York
Nature Observed, Danforth Museum of Art, Boston
Paradise & Purgatory: West Meets East, Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


Toy Show, BACA/The Brooklyn Arts Council


Holiday Invitational, A.I.R. Gallery, New York

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Artist Bio--Petah Coyne". Artists Take on Detroit. Detroit Institute of Arts. Retrieved June 3, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dobrzynski, Judith H. "Steadily Weaving Toward Her Goal; Petah Coyne's Art Strategy Has Its Scary Moments". New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Artist Spotlight: Petah Coyne–How to Hang 150 Pounds of Wax from the Ceiling". Broad Strokes: NMWA's Blog for the 21st Century. Retrieved June 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ Dobrztbski, Judith H. (October 06, 1998). "Steadily Weaving Toward Her Goal; Petah Coyne's Art Strategy Has Its Scary Moments". New York Times.
  5. ^ Vogel, Carol (January 20, 2006). "A Titian Travels to Washington". New York Times.
  6. ^ "Petah Coyne". National Museum of Women in the Arts. Retrieved June 3, 2013. 
  7. ^ Richards, Judith Olch (ed.) (2004) Inside the Studio: Two Decades of Talks with Artists in New York. ICI. New York.
  8. ^ "Petah Coyne: Everything That Rises Must Converge". Mass MoCA. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  9. ^ "Petah Coyne - Everything That Rises Must Converge" (exhibit brochure). Mass MoCA. May 31, 2010.
  10. ^ "Petah Coyne: Above and Beneath the Skin". Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  11. ^ a b "Artist Bio - Petah Coyne". 1999-04-05. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 

External links[edit]