Sarah Sze

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Sarah Sze
Born 1969 (age 46–47)
Boston, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Education MFA
Known for Sculpture
Awards MacArthur Fellow (2003–2008)
US Representative for the Venice Biennale (2013)

Sarah Sze (/ˈz/; born 1969) is a contemporary artist who lives and works in New York City.[1] Sze uses ordinary objects to create sculptures and site-specific installations. She was the United States Representative for the Venice Biennale, the 55th International Art Exhibition, in 2013.[2]

Early life[edit]

Sarah Sze was born in Boston, Massachusetts to a Chinese–American architect father[3] and an American schoolteacher mother.[4]

Sze attended Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts, from which she graduated in 1987; Yale University, from which she graduated with a BA summa cum laude, majoring in architecture and painting, in 1991; and the School of Visual Arts in New York, from which she graduated with a MFA in 1997.[citation needed]


Since the late 1990s, Sze's signature sculptural aesthetic has presented ephemeral installations that penetrate walls, suspend from ceilings and burrow into the ground. The artist creates immense, yet intricate site-specific works which manipulate every space—be that a gallery, domestic interior or street corner—and affects the way it is viewed. Sze's practice exists at the intersection of sculpture, painting and architecture where her formal interest in light, air and movement is coupled with an intuitive understanding of color and texture. Sze utilizes myriad everyday objects in her installations from cotton buds and tea bags to water bottles and ladders, light bulbs and electric fans. Presented as leftovers or traces of human behavior, these items, released from their commonplace duty possess a certain vitality and ambition within the work. Her careful consideration of every shift in scale between the humble and the monumental, the throwaway and precious, the incidental and the essential solicits a new experience of space, disorienting and reorienting the viewer at every turn.[5]

The main purpose behind her works is the process of discovery. By reviewing at her artwork attracts the viewer by having their eye direction to identify objects within the piece of her certain artworks. According to the article titled” Sarah Sze’s Organized Chaos”, Sze explains how the viewer is experiencing when observing her artwork by being attracted to colors and the array of identical items.[6] But why she does want to make the work? Her answer is to make something out of nothing. This asses that this means randomness. Another assessment would be is how Sze treated the gallery space as a sketchbook meaning what she does experimental.[7]

Her intricate works, each of which she constructs by hand, consist of unexpected and carefully arranged combinations of materials. Sze transforms these everyday objects into gravity-defying works in horizontal and tower-like formations that zigzag into the heights of gallery spaces.[8]

The Letting Go (2002), was a site-specific installation of sculptures for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. As the viewer enters the west wing of the museum and rides the escalator up to the second floor, the artwork unfolds itself as the viewer walks through the room. Sze’s sculptures consist of wires, petals (to be regularly replaced as they wither) with seasonal flowers that reflect the time of the year, twigs, metal clamps, feathers, and other natural and man-made items. Sze's installation deals with the human condition, loneliness and the constant longing to connect with others.[9]

Corner Plot (2006), a site-specific public sculpture funded by the New York Public Art Fund, is a triangular shaped fragment of building, replicated to look like the corner of the building located diagonally across from the site at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park, New York. It was displayed in May through late October 2006. Sze once again put familiar items in unfamiliar places. The fragment of the building seemed like it might be sinking or emerging from the ground; through the windows, one could see many typical household items ranging from towels, toothpicks, plants, a tiny spiral staircase, a cellphone and wallet, and pencils. Sze’s goal in Corner Plot was to get people’s attention in the midst of fast-paced New York City. The unexpected quality of seeing a fragment of a building rooftop on the ground draws curious people in.[10]

In 2011–2012, her work Still Life With Landscape (Model for a Habitat) was installed on the High Line in Chelsea, Manhattan and received the AICA Award for Best Project in a Public Space.

In December 2015, a permanent installation of drawings by Sze on ceramic tiles will open in the 96th Street subway station on the new Second Avenue Subway line in New York City.[11][12][13][14][15]


Sze is a 2003 recipient of the MacArthur Fellows Program "genius grant".[16]

In 2013, she represented the United States at the 55th International Venice Biennale.[17] Following that she was the artist-in-residence at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, in early 2014, where she created a series of installations.[18]

Art market[edit]

Sze is represented by Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York[19] and Victoria Miro Gallery in London.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Sze lives in New York City with her husband, Siddhartha Mukherjee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies, and their two daughters.[20][21]

Notable exhibitions[edit]

  • 1997 – White Room, White Columns, New York, NY
  • 1997 – Migrateurs, Musee d’Art Modern de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France
  • 1998 – "Sarah Sze", Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK
  • 1999 – "Sarah Sze", Foundation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, France
  • 1999 – "Sarah Sze: Still Life with Flowers", Galerie fur Zeitgenossische Kunst, Leipzig, Germany
  • 1999 – "Sarah Sze", Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Chicago, IL
  • 2000 – "Sarah Sze", Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2001 – Drawn, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA
  • 2001 – "Sarah Sze", Center for Curatorial Studies Museum, Bard College, NY
  • 2002 – Grow or Die, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (permanent installation)
  • 2002 – "Sarah Sze", Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
  • 2003 – "Sarah Sze: The Triple Point of Water", The Whitney Museum, New York, NY
  • 2004 – "Sarah Sze: The Triple Point of Water", Fondazione Davide Halevim, Milan, Italy
  • 2004 – Blue Poles, Sidney-Pacific Graduate Dormitory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA (permanent installation)
  • 2005 – An Equal and Opposite Reaction, the Seattle Opera, Seattle, WA, (permanent installation)
  • 2005 – "Sarah Sze", Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2006 – Model for Corner Plot, Agassiz House, Radcliffe Yard, Cambridge, MA
  • 2006 – Corner Plot, Doris C. Freedman Plaza, New York, NY
  • 2006 – "Sarah Sze", Malmo Konsthall, Malmo, Sweden
  • 2007 – "Sarah Sze", Victoria Miro Gallery, London, UK
  • 2008 – "Sarah Sze", Maison Hermès 8F Le Forum, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2009 – "Sarah Sze", Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle
  • 2011 – Sarah Sze: Infinite Line, Asia Society, New York, NY
  • 2012 – "Sarah Sze", MUDAM Museum, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  • 2013 – Triple Point, American Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Museum collections[edit]

Awards and Grants[edit]

  • 1996 – School of Visual Arts Graduate Fellowship
  • 1997 – Paula Rhodes Memorial Award
  • 1997 – Visual Art Grant Award, Rema Hort Mann Foundation
  • 1997–1998 – The Space Program Studio Residency, The Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation
  • 1999 – Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation
  • 2002 – Atelier Calder Residency, Sachè, France
  • 2003 – Lotos Club Foundation Prize in the Arts
  • 2005–2006 – Mildred Londa Weisman Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
  • 2003–2008 – MacArthur Fellow, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • 2012 – AICA Award for Best Project in a Public Space, Sarah Sze, Still Life with Landscape (Model for a Habitat), The High Line, New York, NY
  • 2012 – Laurie M. Tisch Award for civic responsibility and action and significant leadership in education, arts, culture, civic affairs and/or health
  • 2012 – American Federation of the Arts Cultural Leadership Award
  • 2012–2013 – United States Representative for the Venice Biennale


  • 1998 – Visiting Lecturer, Yale University, Intersections of Art and Architecture
  • 1999–2002 – Lecturer, School of Visual Art, Master of Fine Arts Program
  • 2002–2004 – Lecturer, Columbia University, School of the Arts
  • 2005–2008 – Adjunct Professor, Columbia University, School of the Arts
  • 2009–Present – Professor, Columbia University, School of the Arts


  1. ^ Official website
  2. ^ "Bronx Museum – Sarah Sze Triple Point". Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Robin Pogrebin (August 23, 2015), Sarah Sze Aims for Precise Randomness in Installing Her Gallery Show New York Times.
  4. ^ Kirkup, Anne (16 March 2012). "When Art and Science Meet: Sarah Sze and Siddhartha Mukherjee". Asia Society. 
  5. ^ a b "Sarah Sze – Artists – Victoria Miro". Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Carlock, Marty (2003). "Sarah Sze's Organized Chaos". Sculpture 22.9. 
  7. ^ Wolff, Rachel (April 30, 2012). "Make Art That's Difficult to Collect;So only museums will collect it". New York Media. 
  8. ^ "Columbia News ::: Visual Artist Sarah Sze Among MacArthur 'Genius Award' Recipients". Columbia News. 8 October 2003. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  10. ^ Isenberg, Barbara (Aug 27, 2006). "NY Public Art Turns a Corner, and some Heads; all that's Missing is Context as the Latest Project Erected in Central Park Makes a Spectacle of itself". Los Angeles Times. 
  11. ^ Oh, Inae (14 May 2012). "Second Avenue Subway Public Art Project Commissions Chuck Close, Sarah Sze, Jean Shin". Huffington Post. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  12. ^ Ben Yakas (2014-01-22). "Here's What The Second Avenue Subway Will Look Like When It's Filled With Art". Gothamist. Retrieved 2014-05-05. 
  13. ^ Halperin, Julia (June 2, 2012). "A Preview of the MTA's Ultra-Contemporary Public Art for New York's Second Avenue Subway Line". Blouin Art Info. Retrieved May 15, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Subway Art on the Future Second Avenue Subway Line Revealed". Untapped Cities. 2014-04-28. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  15. ^ Lynch, Marley (2014-01-23). "The future Second Avenue subway line will have cool art (slide show)". Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  16. ^ "September 2003 – MacArthur Foundation". MacArthur Foundation. September 2003. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  17. ^ Vogel, Carol (23 February 2012). "Sarah Sze to Represent U.S. at Venice Biennale". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  18. ^ Messham-Muir, Kit (February 9, 2015). "Review: Activating space, a little – Sarah Sze in London". Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  19. ^ "tanya bonakdar gallery :: artists". Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  20. ^ "An Oncologist Writes 'A Biography Of Cancer'". NPR. November 17, 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  21. ^ Shapin, Steven (November 8, 2010). "The modern history of cancer : The New Yorker". The New Yorker. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

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