Sam Durant

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Sam Durant
Artist Sam Durant speaking about his sculpture, "Scaffold" at a press conference at the Walker Art Center 2.jpg
Durant speaking at the Walker Art Center
Born Seattle, Washington, U.S
Education Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Occupation Multimedia Artist
Known for Author of Sam Durant: Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres, and Monuments
Spouse(s) Ana Prvacki

Sam Durant (born 1961, in Seattle) is a multimedia artist whose works engage a variety of social, political, and cultural issues. Often referencing American history, his work explores the varying relationships between culture and politics, engaging subjects as diverse as the civil rights movement, southern rock music, and modernism.[1]


Durant received a BFA in sculpture in 1986 from the Massachusetts College of Art and an MFA from California Institute of the Arts.



His work of the 90s was inspired largely by the work of Robert Smithson, an artist well known for his interest in history and entropy. Durant's work has been widely exhibited internationally and in the United States. He has had solo museum exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, S.M.A.K., Ghent, Belgium, and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand. His work has been included in the Panamá,[2] Sydney,[3] Venice,[4] and Whitney[5] Biennials. Durant shows with several galleries including Blum & Poe[6] in Los Angeles, Paula Cooper Gallery[7] in New York, Praz-Delavallade[8] in Paris/Los Angeles and Sadie Coles HQ[9] in London. His work has been extensively written about including seven monographic catalogs and books.


In 2005, his exhibition "Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions, Washington D.C." was shown at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York.[10] This work derived out of a residency he was conducting at the Walker Art Center[11] in 2002. He reproduced 30 Indian massacre monuments that are based on similarities to the massive obelisk Washington monument. In 2006, he compiled and edited a comprehensive monograph of Black Panther artist Emory Douglas’ work.[12] His recent curatorial credits include Eat the Market at the Los Angeles County Museum and Black Panther: the Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas[13] at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the New Museum[14] in New York. He has co-organized numerous group shows and artists benefits and is a co-founder of Transforma,[15] a cultural rebuilding collective project in New Orleans. In addition, he was a finalist for the 2008 Hugo Boss Prize[16] and has received a United States Artists Broad Fellowship and a City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Grant.


Signs of protest at Walker Art Center over Durant's Scaffold

In June 2017, Durant erected a two-story wooden beam sculpture entitled Scaffold for display in the garden of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The sculpture was intended to represent "the gallows used in seven hangings from 1859 to 2006 sanctioned by the U.S. government", as well as "America's history of state violence and its use of the death penalty".[17]

Scaffold had previously been displayed at documenta in Germany in 2012, and at Jupiter Artland in Scotland in 2014.[18]

The sculpture elicited protests from Native American groups prior to being put on public display, and delayed the opening of the gallery's public art garden.[18][19] Protesters were offended by a reference in the sculpture to the 1862 hanging of 38 Dakota Indians at Mankato, Minnesota.[17] Durant agreed to dismantle Gallows, and after initial plans to burn the piece, it was buried by Dakota tribal elders.[20] "I made Scaffold as a learning space for people like me, white people who have not suffered the effects of a white supremacist society and who may not consciously know that it exists" said Durant, "white artists need to address issues of white supremacy".[17]


His work can be found in many public collections including The Art Gallery of Western Australia[21] in Perth, Tate Modern[22] in London, Project Row Houses[23] in Houston, the Walker Art Center[24] in Minneapolis, and the Museum of Modern Art[25] in New York. Durant teaches art at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California.


  1. ^ Jeremy Strick, "Foreword." In Sam Durant eds. Lisa Mark, Jane Hyun and Elizabeth Hamilton (Los Angeles, MOCA, 2002) 9
  2. ^ "Bienal Panamá". Archived from the original on February 9, 2008. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  3. ^ "Biennale of Sydney 2008 | Australia's Festival of Contemporary Art". Archived from the original on December 29, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  4. ^ "La Biennale di Venezia – Home". November 27, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  5. ^ Log in. "Whitney Museum of American Art: Home". Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  6. ^ "Blum & Poe – Sam Durant". Archived from the original on November 21, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  7. ^ Sam Durant. "Sam Durant". Paula Cooper Gallery. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  8. ^ Praz-Delavallade (March 15, 2009). "Sam Durant". Praz-Delavallade. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  9. ^ [1] Archived January 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Sam Durant, Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions. Washington. D.C. (New York: Paula Cooper Gallery, 2005).
  11. ^ "Walker Art Center – Artists-in-Residence". Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  12. ^ Sam Durant, Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas (New York: Rizzoli, 2009).
  13. ^ "Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas | MOCA The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles". Archived from the original on October 21, 2007. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  14. ^ "Emory Douglas: Black Panther". Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  15. ^ "Transforma: New Orleans 2005–2010". Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  16. ^ "Hugo Boss Ag". Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  17. ^ a b c Eckardt, Stephanie (June 1, 2017). "Here's One Way to Deal with Problematic Artworks, Like Sam Durant's Scaffold: Burn Them". W.
  18. ^ a b Miranda, Carolina A. (June 1, 2017). "Sam Durant Sculpture of Gallows in Minneapolis to be Dismantled and Ceremonially Burned". Los Angeles Times.
  19. ^ Kerr, Euan (June 1, 2017). "After Outcry, Sculpture Depicting Dakota Tragedy To Be Dismantled, Burned". NPR.
  20. ^
  21. ^ "The Art Gallery of Western Australia Website". Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  22. ^ "Tate Modern: International modern and contemporary art". Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  23. ^ "About". Project Row Houses. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
  24. ^ "Walker Art Center Collections". Walker Art Center. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  25. ^ "The Museum of Modern Art". MoMA. Retrieved December 4, 2011.

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