Sarah Sze

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Sarah Sze
Untitled (Xe Biennale de Lyon) (4103279111).jpg
360 (Portable Planetarium) (2010)
Born1969 (age 51–52)
Alma materYale University, BA 1991
School of Visual Arts, MFA 1997
Known forSculpture
Spouse(s)Siddhartha Mukherjee
AwardsMacArthur Fellow
US Representative for the Venice Biennale

Sarah Sze (/ˈz/; born 1969) is a contemporary artist known for sculpture and installation works that employ everyday objects to create multimedia landscapes.[1] Sze's work explores the role of technology and information in contemporary life utilizing everyday materials.[2] Drawing from Modernist traditions, Sze's work often represents objects caught in suspension.[3] Sze lives and works in New York City[4] and is a professor of visual arts at Columbia University.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Sze was born in Boston in 1969. Sze attributes her approach to seeing the world to growing up around models and plans and to regular discussions of buildings and cities.[6] She received a BA in Architecture and Painting from Yale University in 1991[7] and an MFA from New York's School of Visual Arts in 1997.[1]


Blueprint for a Landscape, 96th Street subway station

Sze draws from Modernist traditions of the found object, to build large scale installations.[8] She uses everyday items like string, Q-tips, photographs, and wire to create complex constellations whose forms change with the viewer's interaction.[9] The effect of this is to "challenge the very material of sculpture, the very constitution of sculpture, as a solid form that has to do with finite geometric constitutions, shapes, and content."[10] When selecting materials, Sze focuses on the exploration of value acquisition–what value the object holds and how it is acquired. In an interview with curator Okwui Enwezor, Sze explained that during her conceptualization process, she will "choreograph the experience to create an ebb and flow of information [...] thinking about how people approach, slow down, stop, perceive [her art]."[3]

Sze represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 2013, and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003. Her work has been featured in The Whitney Biennial (2000), the Carnegie International (1999) and several international biennials, including Berlin (1998), Guangzhou (2015), Liverpool (2008), Lyon (2009), São Paulo (2002), and Venice (1999, 2013, and 2015).

Sze has also created public artworks for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Walker Art Center, and the High Line in New York.[11]

On January 1, 2017, a permanent installation commissioned by MTA Arts & Design of drawings by Sze on ceramic tiles opened in the 96th Street subway station on the new Second Avenue Subway line in New York City.[12][13][14][15][16][17] Sze unveiled Shorter than the Day, a permanent installation, in LaGuardia Airport in 2020.[18][19]


Sze's work is influenced, in part, by her admiration for Cubists, Russian Constructivists, and Futurists. Particularly, their attempt to "depict the speed and intensity of the moment and the impossibility of its stillness."[3]

Personal life[edit]

Sze lives in New York City with her husband Siddhartha Mukherjee and their two daughters.[20]

Sarah’s great-grandfather, who had a waist-length queue, was the first Chinese student (Alfred Sao-ke Sze) to go to Cornell University. He became China’s minister to Britain and then ambassador to the United States. Her father, Chia-Ming Sze, was born in Shanghai; his family fled China when he was four, and resettled in the United States. He became an architect and married Judy Mossman, an Anglo-Scottish-Irish schoolteacher. Sarah and David, her older brother, grew up in Boston. (David, one of the first investors in Facebook, is a venture capitalist at Greylock Partners.) Sarah went to Milton Academy as a day student and graduated summa cum laude from Yale in 1991. Throughout her childhood, she was constantly drawing—at the dinner table, on the train, wherever she was.[20]

Her grandfather is Szeming Sze who was the initiator of World Health Organization.

Notable exhibitions[edit]

Equal and Opposite Reaction, Seattle Opera House
Part of Triple Point, installed at the Venice Biennale (2013)


Part of Triple Point, installed at the Venice Biennale (2013)

Awards and grants[edit]

Part of Triple Point, installed at the Venice Biennale (2013)
  • 2017 – Honoree, National Academy Museum and School, New York
  • 2016 – Louise Blouin Foundation Award
  • 2014 – Amherst Honorary Degree, Doctor of the Arts, Honoris Causa
  • 2014 – School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Medal Award
  • 2013 – US Representative for the Venice Biennale
  • 2013 – Inducted into the National Academy
  • 2012 – American Federation of the Arts Cultural Leadership Award
  • 2012 – Laurie M. Tisch Award for civic responsibility and action and significant leadership in education, arts, culture, civic affairs and/or health
  • 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
  • 2005 – Radcliffe Institute Fellow
  • 2003 – MacArthur Fellow
  • 2003 – Lotos Club Foundation Prize in the Arts
  • 2002 – Atelier Calder Residency, Sache`, France
  • 1999 – Louis Comfort Tiffany Award
  • 1997 – The Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Studio Residency, New York
  • 1997 – Rema Hort Mann Foundation Award
  • 1997 – Paula Rhodes Memorial Award
  • 1996 – School of Visual Arts Graduate Fellowship


  • 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. ^ "Sarah Sze - Artists - Tanya Bonakdar Gallery". Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Enwezor, Okwui (May 23, 2016). Sarah Sze. Sze, Sarah, 1969-, Buchloh, B. H. D.,, Hoptman, Laura J., 1962-. London. ISBN 978-0-7148-7046-5. OCLC 930797762.
  3. ^ Official website
  4. ^ "Sarah Sze". Columbia University School of the Arts. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  5. ^ "Sarah Sze: Studio as Laboratory". Art21. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  6. ^ "Sarah Sze". Artnet. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  7. ^ "Sarah Sze". Art21. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  8. ^ "Meet the Most Brilliant Couple in Town". Vogue. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  9. ^ "Sarah Sze on Why She Had to Invent a New Way of Making Sculpture". Artspace. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  10. ^ "Sarah Sze". Victoria Miro. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  11. ^ Oh, Inae (May 14, 2012). "Second Avenue Subway Public Art Project Commissions Chuck Close, Sarah Sze, Jean Shin". HuffPost. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  12. ^ Yakas, Ben (January 22, 2014). "Here's What The Second Avenue Subway Will Look Like When It's Filled With Art". Gothamist. Archived from the original on March 30, 2014. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  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. April 28, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  15. ^ Lynch, Marley (January 23, 2014). "The future Second Avenue subway line will have cool art (slide show)". Time Out. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  16. ^ Kennedy, Randy (December 19, 2016). "Art Underground: A First Look at the Second Avenue Subway". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  17. ^ Sheets, Hilarie M. (June 10, 2020). "Art That Might Make You Want to Go to La Guardia". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331.
  18. ^ Cochran, Sam (July 5, 2020). "This Ethereal Installation is Transforming LaGuardia". Architectural Digest. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  19. ^ a b Kazanjian, Dodie (May 11, 2016). "Meet the Most Brilliant Couple in Town". Vogue.
  20. ^ "Surrounds: 11 Installations". Museum of Modern Art.
  21. ^ "Entangle / Physics and the Artistic Imagination". Bildmuseet, Umeå University. Archived from the original on December 16, 2018.
  22. ^ "Still Life with Landscape (Model for a Habitat)". High Line Art. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013.
  23. ^ Sarah Sze: Tilting Planet from Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Retrieved November 12, 2016.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]