Dan Colen (American, b.1979) is a multimedia neo-Pop artist who has made quite a name for himself with his unique painted sculptures, gum paintings, and installations. He was born and raised in Leonia, NJ. His father, sculptor Sy Colen, gave him art lessons at a young age. Before deciding to become an artist, Colen wanted to be a skateboarder, or a professional basketball player in the NBA. Neither of these ambitions worked out for Colen, and so he decided to go to art school. He graduated with a BFA in Painting from Rhode Island School of Art and Design in 2001, and he then headed to New York City. During his early career, Colen set up a studio in his grandfather’s antiques shop by Coney Island, where he painted photorealistic fantasy images. At this time, Colen also began creating his series of candle paintings, which were inspired by Disney stills and differ greatly from the works for which he is most well-known. The artist later began experimenting with different media including spray paint, chewing gum, and confetti. In 2006, he held his first major show called Potty Mouth Potty War in the bathrooms of the Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY, where his works sold instantly.
Colen’s works consist of a variety of abstract and traditional imagery with rebellious, religious, fantastical, and in some ways offensive undertones. His installation piece entitled No Me (2006), which opened at Peres Projects Kreuzberg in Berlin, was the subject of some controversy throughout Germany. Colen’s poster advertising this exhibition showed the artist in the nude except for a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) hanging from his erect penis. Being a Jewish American, he meant no disrespect; the artist’s work is an expression of who he is. Colen also frequently collaborated with friends and fellow artists including Nate Lowman (b.1979), Ryan McGinley (b.1977), and Dash Snow (1981–2009). One of Colen’s most famous installation collaborations with Snow is Nest (2007). Two years after this installation was created, Snow died from an overdose; the loss of this friend had a great effect on Colen and his art. He has since then exhibited in England, Italy, and Norway. Colen continues to work from his New York City studio.

Timeline

1979
Born in New Jersey
2001
BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Art & Design, Providence, RI
Lives and works in New York, NY

Exhibitions

2013
Group Show - Gagosian Gallery, Hong Kong, SAR
White Collar Crimes - Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York City, NY
2012
Dan Colen - blowing in the wind - Gagosian Gallery, Athens
Joe Bradley & Dan Colen Epiphany - Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York City, NY
Holy Crap! - The Fireplace Project, East Hampton, NY
Do Your Thing - White Columns, New York City, NY
À rebours - Venus Over Manhattan Art, New York City, NY
Brucennial 2012 - Harder. Betterer. Fasterer. Strongerer - Brucennial, New York City, NY
In Living Color - FLAG Art Foundation, New York City, NY
2011
Oh God! - Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milan
Dan Colen - Trash - Gagosian Gallery, Rome
Dan Colen - Peanuts - Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Oslo
2010
Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milan, Italy (solo)
"Poetry," Gargosian Gallery, London, UK (solo)
2009
"Abstract America: New Painting and Sculpture," Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
2008
"I Live there…," Gagosian Gallery, London, UK (solo)
"The Unforgiven", Stellan Holm Gallery, New York, NY
"Substraction," Deitch Projects, New York, NY
"Sack of Bones," Asia Song Society, New York, NY
"Meet Me Around the Corner – Works from the Astrup Fearnley Collection," Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway
2007
"Pop Art is:" Gagosian Gallery, London, UK
"Unholy Truths," Initial Access, Frank Cohen Collection, Manchester, UK
"Generation," Art Gallery of Alberta, Canada
"Fractured Figure," works from the Dakis Joannou Collection, Deste Foundation, Athens, Greece
"Beyond Zero," Peres Projects, Athens, Greece
"Sweet Bird of Youth," Arndt & Partner, Zurich, Swizterland,
"Last Attraction Next Exit," Max Wigram Gallery, London, UK,
"Absent Without Leave," Victoria Miro Gallery, London, UK
"Beneath the Underdog," Gagosian Gallery, NY
2006
"NO ME" Peres Projects, Berlin, Germany (solo)
"Secrets and Cymbals, Smoke and Scissors (My Friend Dash's Wall in the Future)," Peres Projects, Los Angeles, CA (traveled to Deitch Projects, New York, NY) (solo)
"Potty Mouth, Potty War, Pot Roast, Pot is a Reality Kick," Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
"Fantastic Politics," The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway
"USA Today," Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK
"Survivor," New York, NY
"Defamation of Character," PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY
"Mid-Life Crisis," Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, New York, NY
"Axis of Praxis," Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis, MN
"Infinite Painting," Villa Manin – Centre for Contemporary Art, Passariano, Codroipo, Italy
"Whitney Biennial 2006," Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
2005
"Bridge Freezes Before Road," Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York, NY
"The Armory Show with Peres Projects," New York, NY
"Interstate," Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York, NY
2003
"Seven Days Always Seemed Like A Bit Of An Exaggeration," Rivington Arms, New York, NY (solo)
"New York," Galerie du Jour, Paris, France
"Art Works for Hard Money," Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York, NY
2002
First Show, Rivington Arms, New York, NY