Gary Simmons (American, b.1964) uses American pop culture stereotypes and icons to create sculptures, paintings, and installations. His subject matter is often related to class and race. One of his most well-known works is Home and Away, which is installed at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He is also well-known for his erasure drawings, a technique which involves drawing with white chalk on slate-painted walls and then smudging the drawing with one’s hands to a ghostly image. Simmons has a graduate degree from CalArts.

The artist runs a studio in Manhattan in a closed vocational school. His first erasure drawings were completed on the old roller chalkboards that were left behind. Appropriately, the subjects of these drawings were education and the misconceptions regarding class and racial identity. He used this medium frequently during the 1990s. He also painted walls with chalkboard paint and used those as a canvas as well. In Wall of Eyes, Simmons explores the use of black caricature by adding white cartoon eyes of different sizes onto the black surface. His installation Split Personality is a series of black-on-black drawings using Simmons' semi-erase method, and is based on horror films of the 1970s.

Simmons is also a sculptor. His earlier works included extremely powerful symbols of oppression using items from the Ku Klux Klan such as signs, nooses, and hoods. Simmons has exhibited both domestically and internationally in galleries such as the Simon Lee Gallery in London, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., Anthony Meier Fine Arts in San Francisco, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Metro Pictures Gallery in New York, Margo Leavin Gallery in Los Angeles, Museum Villa Stuck in Munich, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His work is also included in private collections in Portland, OR, St. Louis, MO, and New York, NY. Simmons is represented by Metro Pictures Gallery in New York and Simon Lee Gallery in London. The artist lives and works in New York.

Timeline

1964
Born in New York; Lives and works in New York
1988
School of Visual Arts, NY, B.F.A.
1990
The California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California, M.F.A.
1990
National Endowment for the Arts Interarts Grant
1991
Penny McCall Foundation Grant

Exhibitions

2011
Shine, Simon Lee Gallery, London, UK (solo)
2010
Midnight Matinee, Metro Pictures, New York, NY, US (solo)
2010
Black Marquee, Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, USA (solo)
2010
Double Feature, SAKS, Geneva, Switzerland
2009
NeoHooDoo: Art For a Forgotten Faith, Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL
2009
20 Seconds off an Inch, The Studio Museum, New York, NY, US
2009
Collecting History, Highlighting Recent Acquistions, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, US
2009
Nothingness and Being, The Jumex Collection, Mexico City, Mexico
2009
Sites, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, US
2008
An Unruly History of the Readymade, The Jumex Collection, Mexico City
2008
The Station, Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami, FL, US
2008
30 Americans, Rubell Collection, Miami, FL, US
2008
Metro Pictures, New York, NY, US (solo)
2008
Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, US (solo)
2008
CAIS Gallery, Seoul/Hong Kong (solo)
2007
Anthony Meier, San Francisco, CA, US (solo)
2007
Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco
2007
House of Pain, Simon Lee, London
2007
Comic Abstraction: Image-Breaking, Image-Making, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (cat.)
2006
1964, The Bohen Foundation, New York
2006
Fifth Interpretation of the Collection, La Colección Jumex, Pachuca, Mexico (cat.)
2005
Diggin in the Crates, Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles
2004
Metro Pictures, New York, NY, US (solo)
2004
“Social Studies,” Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, Illinois (cat.)
2003
“Whiteness, A Wayward Construction,” Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, California “Raid the Icebox,” Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles “Supernova: Art of the 1990s from the Logan Collection,” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco (cat.)
2003
Gary Simmons - Unique Drawings, Jan Weiner Gallery, Kansas City, MI, US (solo)
2003
Wishing, Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, US (solo)
2003
Gary Simmons, Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA, US (solo)
2002
The Studio Museum in Harlen, New York, NY, US (solo)
2002
CAIS Gallery, Seoul, Korea (solo)
2002
“Gary Simmons,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (cat.) CAIS Gallery, Seoul, Korea (cat.) Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco (solo)
2002
“New York Renaissance– Masterworks From the Whitney Museum of American Art,” Palazzo Reale, Milan (cat.)
2001
"Wishful Drinking," Metro Pictures, New York
2001
"Ghost House," SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico
2001
"I'm Thinking of a Place," UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
2001
"Locating Drawing," Lawing Gallery, Houston, Texas
2000
"Point of Reference," Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts
2000
"Art on the Line Comes Inside," Main Line Art Center, Haverford, Pennsylvania
2000
"Country Grmmar," Margo Leavin Gallery, Los angeles
2000
"Bench Markers," Musée D'Art americain, Giverny, France (broch.)
2000
"Wake," (web exhibition) The Dia Center, www.diacenter.org, New York
1999
"Rapture," Bakalar Gallery and Huntington Gallery, Massachusetts College of Art (cat.)
1999
"Shoes," frederieke Taylor TZ'Art, New York
1999
"Videodrome," New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
1999
"American Century," whitney Museum of American Art, New York (cat.)
1999
"Billboard," Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams
1999
"At Century's End," Museum of Contemporary Art, Lake Worth, Florida
1999
"Currents 80," The Saint Louis Art Museum
1998
Metro Pictures, New York
1998
Margo Leavin, Los Angeles
1998
The Gallery of the Department of Art & Art History, Dana Arts Center, Colgate University (February 5 - February 28, broch.)
1997
"Wall Drawings," Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland (September 9 - November 11, cat.)

Public Collections

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, US
Peter Norton Family Foundation, California, US
Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, US
The Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri, US
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California, US
Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY, US
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, US
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, US
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, US