Tom Friedman (artist)

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Tom Friedman
Tom Friedman in his Studio in 2016
Tom Friedman in his Studio in 2016
Born1965 (1965)
EducationWashington University in St. Louis
University of Illinois at Chicago
Known forConceptual Art, Sculpture, Mixed Media, Installation

Tom Friedman (born 1965) is an American conceptual sculptor. Friedman was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He received his BFA in graphic illustration from Washington University in St. Louis in 1988, and an MFA in sculpture from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1990. As a conceptual artist he works in a variety of mediums including, sculpture, painting, drawing, video, and installation. For over twenty years Friedman has been investigating the viewer/object relationship, and "the space in between."[1] Friedman has held solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Yerba Buena Museum of Art, San Francisco, Magasin 3 in Stockholm, Sweden, The New Museum in New York, the Tel Aviv Art Museum, and others. His work can be found in the museum collections of MoMA, Los Angeles Contemporary Art Museum, the Broad Art Museum, the Solomon Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. He is currently represented by Luhring Augustine Gallery and Stephen Friedman Gallery. He lives and works in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Career life[edit]

Friedman brings humor and childlike wonder as well as grave philosophical issues to each piece he makes. With the art object as departure, he uses everyday materials found worldwide, which the viewer can easily understand. He says it's "enticing and seductive to start with the simple humble object that we all 'think' we know." Friedman's intent is to draw the viewer magically into the simple beauty, and familiarity of a piece, and then invite them to investigate it further.[2]

Although much of the published work on Friedman's art focuses on the materials, it is ultimately about the tension produced through the phenomenological experience of observer, artwork, and space in between. He often refers to his process as "orchestrating an experience."[3] He uses the art experience as a context for opening people’s minds to new ways of seeing, and thinking. To do so, he has developed a circular logic: a way of investigating the object and whittling it down to a core understanding of its metaphor and how it connects to the viewer, in their everyday life, and within societal and philosophical constructs, and then back to the object again.[4]

At UIC Friedman became friends with professor Tony Tasset, an artist represented by Feature Inc. Feature started in Chicago, later moving to the Soho area in New York in 1987. It was at the heart of the avant-garde scene from the late 1980s until the death of its founder in 2014. The gallery was created by Hudson whom Friedman worked with closely for over 15 years. In his eulogy of Hudson, Friedman noted "He understood the development of an artist and their vision. He could see so clearly the evolution of consciousness of an artist, and he knew how to push the work to the next level." Hudson played a vital role in the career of many current artists, including B. Wurtz, Kay Rosen, Hirsch Perlman, Kathe Burkhart, Tony Tasset, Jeanne Dunning, Jim Isermann, Nancy Shaver, Lily van der Stokker, David Moreno, Alexander Ross, Judy Linn, David Shaw, Jason Fox, Lisa Beck, Dike Blair, Roy McMakin, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, and Raymond Pettibon.[5] Template:Https://</ref>

Tom Friedman’s sculpture is recognizable for its highly inventive and idiosyncratic use of materials like Styrofoam, foil, paper, clay, wire, plastic, hair, and fuzz. Working autobiographically, Friedman uses painstaking, labor-intensive methods to recreate seemingly random elements from his life. In each piece, he pays obsessive attention to detail, particularly in the replication of the objects that surround him.[6]

Friedman held his first solo exhibition in 1991 at Feature in New York. Three years later, he made his international debut in his 1994 exhibition at the Galleria Rauicci/Santamaria in Naples, Italy and the Galerie Analix in Geneva, Switzerland.[7] His affiliation with Feature at this time led to a relationship with curator Robert Storr which led to an exhibition in the Elaine Danhessier Project Series at MoMa in the spring of 1995 exhibiting in tandem with Bruce Nauman's "Retrospective." Friedman was the 50th artist in the series, which focuses on emerging artists. An interview with Rob Storr at this time yielded important information about Friedman’s process and circular logic. In 1996 Tom Friedman exhibited with Chuck Close, "Affinities: Chuck Close and Tom Friedman", at the Art Institute of Chicago, curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn. In that same year, Friedman participated in exhibitions in France and Italy, also working with curator Paul Schimmel in Brazil for the Sao Paulo Biennale. Exhibiting with artists such as, Jim Hodges, Elizabeth Peyton, Jennifer Pastor, Katie Schimert.[8] Notable works from this time period include, Everything (1992–1995), 1000 Hours of Staring (1992–1997), Untitled (Curse) (1992), Untitled (Aspirin Head) (1994) and Untitled (Toothpicks) (1995).[9]

In 1999 Friedman was one of five resident artists (Byron Kim, Pauli Apfelbaum, Suzanne McClelland, Lorraine O'Grady) teaching at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine.[7] There Friedman met John Waters, the visiting artist of that year, who later interviewed him for Parkett Magazine. In the interview Friedman spoke of his evolution as an artist over time, as well as the significance behind his art. On the humor of his work, Friedman said, "there's this misconception that playful thinking is not serious and it's not important."[10]

Between 2000–2002 a major exhibition of his work entitled, "Tom Friedman: The Epic in the Everyday", was organized by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA). The show was exhibited there, and traveled also to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, the Aspen Art Museum, and the New Museum, New York. At this time Friedman was a finalist for the Hugo Boss Prize at the Guggenheim, an honor given to artists deemed the most innovative and influential of the time. In 2002 Friedman was invited to have a solo exhibition at the Fonadzione Prada, Milan, Italy, curated by Germano Celant . A two volume catalogue was produced for the exhibition.[11]

In 2005 Friedman moved from Feature Inc to Gagosian Gallery where he held two solo exhibitions: "New Work" at the Beverly Hills gallery and "Monsters and Stuff" in London. Both shows yielded extensive monographs.[12] Friedman then left Gagosian in 2009 to work with the Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. In 2012 Friedman decided to work simultaneously with Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York, whom he had previously worked with for "The Art of Chess", 2005.[7]

In recent years, Friedman has built a portfolio of large-scale outdoor installations, beginning with Open Box (2007) and Circle Dance (2011), the latter being permanently installed on Brown University campus in 2012. In 2015, Friedman's Looking Up (2015) was installed on Park Avenue in New York. Another rendition of the 33.3' figure is permanently installed at the Laguna Gloria campus of The Contemporary Austin Texas. Up in the Air, which debuted in 2010 at the Magasin III gallery in Stockholm, marked his first solo exhibition in a Scandinavian country. The installation, consisting of roughly 900 suspended sculptures, continued onto the Tel Aviv Museum of Art between 2014–2015. In 2016, Friedman exhibited works for a group exhibition co-curated by Denise Markonish and Sean Foley entitled "Explode Every Day" at Mass MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts.[13]

Throughout 2016 and 2017 Friedman focused largely on standalone sculptures. Once standing on Park Avenue, Looking Up (2015) was moved to Chicago's lakefront where it will permanently remain.[14] In addition, a third edition of the piece was installed at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in St. Louis, Missouri.[15] Friedman continued to work in a public forum, unveiling Huddle (2017), a 10x18 foot piece designed for the Dallas Cowboys installed at their training grounds.[16] In late 2017, Friedman had a solo exhibition at Luhring Augustine entitled "Ghosts and UFOs: Projections for Well-Lit Spaces." The show, which consisted solely of projections, was a very dramatic shift from Friedman's previous chronology. While a departure from Friedman's past works, The New York Times praised it as, "effortlessly brilliant."[17]


In an interview with Los Angeles based writer Dennis Cooper, Friedman spoke in depth on the process and thinking behind much of his art. He revealed to Cooper a disdain for much of his graduate work, which led him to reconsider his image as an artist. “At this point I sort of dropped the idea of making art; it was more about "discovering a beginning." Friedman remarked. During this time period he completely emptied his studio and created an all white isolation chamber in which he would meditate on objects he brought in from his home. Friedman began at this point to move towards self described radical stages of simplification focusing on the process of his work. In pieces like Untitled (1990), eraser shaving formed into a circle, Friedman focused on repetitive actions which became for him "almost like a mantra." This study of object is also evident in his 1990 writing, Ingredients, a list of all the questions one can ask about and object, organized into three main categories. The object, the location of the object, and the viewer. The questionnaire ended up being twenty pages long.[18]

In a 1997 interview with Hudson, Friedman elaborated on his creative process, "I play both the scientist and the experimental began as an intellectual process, but is evolving into an emotional understanding." Friedman also went on to say, "In my past work my ideas about change have been more about transformation: the material's transformation from what it is into something different. The ideas surrounding mutation and deviation are interesting to me not only in that they inform the transformation of materials, but also in how they evolve, and depart from each different branch of my investigation… the different ideas that I explore within a body of work range from ideas that opened things up for me, to unifying ideas that connect my separate branches of investigation."[18] Friedman further elaborated on this claim in Irvine Fine Arts Center's, "Ideas in Things" in 1999, stating, "Im involved in constructing this phenomenon of myself being absorbed by the work in such a way that one or the other of us is going to disappear - it into me or me into it."[19]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Throughout his career, Friedman has received numerous awards. In 1993 he received both the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and the Academy Award in Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Friedman also received a grant from The Joan Mitchell Foundation in 2001.[20] Between 1993–1995 he was the Luther Greg Sullivan Visiting Artist at Wesleyan University and in 1999 he had a residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpting in Skowhegan, ME.[7] In 2013 Friedman received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in the Arts from the Montserrat College of Art.[1]

Friedman's work has also been the subject of several books, including a feature in an eponymous Phaidon book. Charlotte Eyerman's Friedman: Up in the Air studies the solo exhibition of the same name indepth. Friedman himself has released two books, featuring commentary by Arthur C. Danto, Ralph Rugoff, and Robert Storr, among others. Friedman has been featured extensively in magazines such as Artforum and Frieze.[18][21][22][23]

Selected works[edit]

Selected exhibitions[edit]

  • 1992 - Bonzak Gallery, St.Louis, MO
  • 1993 - Feature Inc., New York, NY
  • 1994 - Galleria Raucci/Santamaria, Naples, Italy
  • 1995 - Project 50:Tom Friedman, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
  • 1996 - Affinities: Chuck Close and Tom Friedman, The Art Institute of Chicago
  • 1997 - Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
  • 1997 - Ynglingagatan, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 1997 - Feature Inc, New York, NY
  • 1998 - Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, UK
  • 1998 - Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art, Porland, ME
  • 1998 - Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1999 - Galeria Foksal, Warsaw, Poland
  • 1999 - Galleria Gian Enzo Sperone, Rome, Italy
  • 1999 - Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA
  • 1999 - On the Ball: The Sphere in Contemporary Sculpture, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA
  • 1999 - Waste Management 'Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada
  • 2000 - Tom Friedman, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
  • 2001 - Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, PA
  • 2001 - Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2002 -Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, UK
  • 2002 - Stichting Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy
  • 2002 - 177th Abbual Exhibition, National Academy of Design Museum, New York, NY
  • 2002 - Sunday Afternoon, 303 gallery, New York, NY
  • 2002 - Plotting, Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, IL
  • 2002 - FACE Off: a portrait of the artist, Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • 2002 - Retrospectacle: 25 Years of Collecting Modern and Contemporary Art, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
  • 2003 - Fright Wig, Feature Inc. New York, NY
  • 2003 - Tom Friedman, Gaylen Gerber, Joe Scanlan, Daniel Hug Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2003 - Undomesticated Interiors, Smith College Museum of Art, Newport Center for Contemporary Art, Snung Harbor Cultural Center, Staten Island, NY
  • 2003 - The Moderns, Castello di Rivoli Museo d?Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Torino, Italy
  • 2003 - Stacked, D'Amelio Terras, New York, NY
  • 2004 - Feature Inc, New York, NY
  • 2004 - Self-Evidence:Identity in Contemporary Art, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA
  • 2004 - Symbolic Space, The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, NY
  • 2004 - Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2005 - Feature Inc, New York, NY
  • 2006 - Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA
  • 2007 - Pop Art Is..., Gagosian Gallery, Britannia Street, London, UK
  • 2007 - Insight?, Gagosian Gallery, Moscow, Russia
  • 2008 - for What you are about to receive, Gagosian Gallery, Moscow, Russia
  • 2008 - Retrospective, Gagosian Gallery, 21st Street
  • 2008 - Mosnters and Stuff, Gagosian Gallery, Britannia Street, London, UK
  • 2008 - PRINTED MEDIA IN RECENT COLLAGE, Gagosian Gallery, Madison Avenue, New York, NY
  • 2009 - REAM, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO (solo)
  • 2009 - Not Something Else, Tomio Koyama Gallery, Kyoto, Japan (solo)
  • 2009 - Galerie Bernard Ceysson Beaubourg, Paris, France (solo)
  • 2009 - Magic Show, QUAD Gallery, Derby, UK
  • 2009 - Chasing Napoleon, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France
  • 2009 - Six Artists, John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2009 - OFF THE WALL, Van de Weghe Fine Art, New York City, NY
  • 2009 - Shaping Space, James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2010 - Up in the Air, Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, Stockholm; touring to FRAC Montpellier, France (solo)
  • 2010 - Tom Friedman and Steve Wolfe, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, UK
  • 2010 - Floor Corner Wall, Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, Fort Worth, TX
  • 2010 - The Boneyard, Maloney Fine Art, Culver City, CA
  • 2011 - The Sculpture Park at Frieze Art Fair curated by David Thorp, London, UK
  • 2011 - All that Glisters, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, UK
  • 2012 - Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England
  • 2014 - Up in the Air, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • 2014 - Gravity, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England
  • 2015 - Looking Up, The Contemporary, Austin, Texas[24]
  • 2016 - Looking Up, 4800 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL
  • 2016 - Looking Up, Park Avenue, New York, NY
  • 2016 - Tom Friedman: Untitled (Foundation), Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
  • 2017 - Ghosts and UFOs: Projections for Well-Lit Spaces, Luhring Augustine, New York, NY
  • 2017 - Huddle, The Star in Frisco, Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters and Practice Facility, Frisco, TX
  • 2018 - Ghosts and UFOs: Projections for Well-Lit Spaces, Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2018 - Ghosts and UFOs: Projections for Well-Lit Spaces, Vista Mare Studio, Miilan, Italy
  • 2018 - Always the Beginning, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "Tom Friedman". Gagosian Gallery.
  3. ^ Moynihan, Miriam (6 November 2009). "St. Louis artist's imagery is intense". St Louis Post-Dispatch.
  4. ^ Baird, Daniel (1 January 2002). "Tom Friedman at the New Museum of Contemporary Art". The Brooklyn Rail.
  5. ^ Friedman, Tom (9 June 2014). "Hudson (1950-2014)". Artforum.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ a b c d "Tom Friedman: Biography". artnet.
  8. ^ "50: Tom Friedman". The Elaine Danheisser Projects Series. MoMA.
  9. ^ Marshall, Justin (9 November 2011). "Beyond Obsessed". Worldrace.
  10. ^ "Serious Playboys: Tom Friedman in conversation with John Waters". Parkett. 64. 2002.
  11. ^ Celant, Germano, ed. (2002). Tom Friedman. Milan: Fondazione Prada. ISBN 9788887029246.
  12. ^ Friedman, Tom. Ream. Gagosian Gallery, 2006. Print.
  13. ^ "Explode Every Day: An Inquiry into the Phenomena of Wonder". MASS MoCA.
  14. ^ "Tom Friedman's "Looking Up" to be Installed on Chicago's Lakefront - News - Luhring Augustine". Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  15. ^ "Tom Friedman's "Looking Up" installed at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium - News - Luhring Augustine". Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  16. ^ "Dallas Cowboys unveil new sculpture by internationally acclaimed artist". Dallas News. 2017-08-29. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  17. ^ Cotter, Holland; Heinrich, Will; Schwendener, Martha (2017-10-18). "What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  18. ^ a b c Cooper, Dennis; Hainley, Bruce; Searle, Adrian (2001). Tom Friedman. London: Phaidon. ISBN 9780714839868.
  19. ^ Jahns, Tim (1999). Ideas in Things. Irvine: Irvine Fine Arts Center.
  20. ^ "Tom Friedman". Collection Online. Guggenheim.
  21. ^ Friedman, Tom (2000). Tom Friedman. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. ISBN 978-1888826081.
  22. ^ Friedman, Tom; Danto, Arthur C.; Rugoff, Ralph (2008). Tom Friedman. London: Gagosian Gallery. ISBN 978-0300142587.
  23. ^ Eyerman, Charlotte; Neuman, David (2013). Julin, Richard; Stoltz, Liv, eds. Tom Friedman: Up in the Air. Skira. ISBN 978-8857218946.
  24. ^ "Tom Friedman". Luhring Augustine.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]