Liza Lou (American, b.1969) is a Conceptual artist whose work is typically done in unlikely mediums, such as beads. Lou was born in New York, NY, to Bohemian turned born-again Christian parents. As a child, she moved to Minneapolis, MN, and grew up watching exorcisms and speaking in tongues.

On a summer trip in 1989 to view the cathedrals of Florence and Venice, Italy, she became enthralled with the mosaic artwork that adorned the walls and ceilings of the churches. While attending the San Francisco Art Institute in California, Lou walked into a bead store and found herself far more interested in beads than paint. She began incorporating beads into her artwork, much to the chagrin of her teachers and classmates. Lou eventually left the Art Institute and began to work on what is known as her breakout piece, Kitchen (1995). The piece is a 168 square foot replica of a complete kitchen covered in beads. Lou hoped to take something mundane and boring, such as a kitchen, and transform it into something beautiful to rejoice over. The work was noticed by Marcia Tucker (American, 1940–2006), the director of the New Museum in New York, and she invited Lou to show her work in 1996. The sale of Kitchen enabled Lou to complete her second major piece, Backyard, in 1996. In this work, Lou used her unconventional medium as a way to make a painting touchable, as if one could step into it. The piece is a 525 square foot replica of a backyard created with multitudes of beads.

In the 21st-century, Lou's work has taken a decidedly political turn, and she has dabbled in Performance Art. Liza Lou was awarded the MacArthur "genius" fellowship in 2002. One of her most popular pieces was a performance piece entitled Born Again, in which she recreates a series of moments from a fundamentalist Christian childhood. At one point, she plays a six year old who has been abused by her father. Lou began to work on the piece in 2001, and it was first performed at Les Deux Cafes in Los Angeles, CA. She has since included a video version in many of her shows. Lou currently works and resides in both Los Angeles, CA, and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In South Africa, she works alongside 30 members of a Zulu tribe on her pieces. Her works can be found in several museums, including The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, NY, the Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, OH, and the Honart Museum in Tehran, Iran. Lou''s work also appears in several books, catalogues, and galleries.

Timeline

1969
Born in New York City
2002
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship
2005
Pew Charitable Trust, Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative Grant
Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Exhibitions

2011
Liza Lou, L&M Arts. Los Angeles, CA (solo)
2011
January White Sale, DeWoody, Beth Rudin, curator, Loretta Howard Gallery. New York, NY
2011
Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts, Academy of Arts and Letters. New York, NY
2010–2011
The Artist's Museum, Morse, Rebecca, Jeffrey Deitch, Lisa Gabrielle Mark, Alma Ruiz and Bennett Simpson, curator, Museum of Contemporary Art. Los Angeles, CA
2010–2011
Now What?, Brutvan, Cheryl and Charlie Stainback, curator, Norton Museum of Art. West Palm Beach, FL
2009–2011
Lila Acheson Wallace Wing for Modern and Contemporary Art ('Continuous Mile'), Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, NY
2010
Selections from the Permanent Collection, Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, OH
2010
Skin Fruit: Selections from the Dakis Joannou Collection, Koons, Jeff, curator, New Museum. New York, NY
2010
Kupferstichkabinett: Between Thought and Action, May, Susan, curator, White Cube Gallery. London, United Kingdom
2010
Lust for Life and Dance of Death, Olbricht Collection, Kunsthalle Krems, Schoppmann, Wolfgang and Hans-Peter Wipplinger, curator, Krems, Austria
2010
Make: Craft, Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, Watts, Patricia, curator, Los Angeles, CA
2010
American Idol Works from 1995-2010, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Paris, France (solo)
2010
Liza Lou Drawings, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Paris, France (solo)
2009
Innovations in the Third Dimension: Sculpture of Our Time, Bruce Museum. Greenwich, CT
2008–2009
Diana + Actaeon: The Forbidden Glimpse of the Naked Body, Museum Kunst Palast. Düsseldorf, Germany
2008–2009
Bizarre Perfection, Israel Museum. Jerusalem, Israel
2008
In the Land of Retinal Delights, Linton, Meg, curator, Laguna Art Museum. Laguna, CA
2008
Liza Lou, L&M Arts. New York, NY (solo)
2008
Liza Lou: Maximum Security, Lever House Lobby Gallery. New York, NY (solo)
2007–2008
The Complexity of the Simple, L&M Arts. New York, NY
2007
Rockers Island: Olbricht Collection, Museum Folkwang Essen. Essen, Germany
2007
Exposures: the Contemporary Self-Portrait, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Salzburg, Austria
2007
The Death Instinct, The Haifa Museum of Art. Haifa, Israel
2006–2007
Transitional Objects: Contemporary Still Life, Young, Dede, curator, Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York. Purchase, NY
2006
Collection of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. Metropolitan Kiba Park, Tokyo, Japan
2006
White Cube, London, United Kingdom (solo)
2005
Translation, Palais de Tokyo in conjunction with the Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, Paris, France
2004
Splat, Boom, Pow; Cartoons in Contemporary Art (traveling exhibition)
2004
Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX; ICA, Boston; Wexner Center for the Arts, OH
2004
Smith College Art Museum, Undomesticated Interiors, Northampton, MA
2004
San Jose Museum of Art, Domestic Odyssey, San Jose, CA
2004
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris (solo)
2003
Galerie Thaddaeaus Ropac, Perpetual Bliss, Paris France
2003
Skulptur03, Max Gandolph-BIbliothek, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg, Austria
2003
Boijmans Museum, Shine, Rotterdam, Holland (catalogue)
2002
Melodrama, (traveling exhibition) Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporaneo, Basque
2002
Palacio de los Condes de Gabia/Centro Jose Guerrero, Granada, Spain
2002
Deitch Projects, Testimony , New York, NY (solo)
2002
Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Germany (solo)
2002
Henie Oslo Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway (catalogue) (solo)
2001
Bass Museum of Art, Liza Lou II, Miami, FL (solo)
2001
Southeastern Contemporary Art Center, Trailer, Winston-Salem, NC (solo)
2000
Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution of American Art, Washington DC (solo)
2000
Akron Art Museum, Liza Lou, Akron, OH (solo)
1999
Grand Central Terminal, American Glamorama, Vanderbilt Hall, New York, NY (solo)
1999
Contemporary Arts Center, Kitchen, Cincinnati, OH (solo)
1999
Contemporary Arts Center of Virginia, American Presidents , Virginia Beach, VA (solo)
1998
University of Wyoming Art Museum, Kitchen, Laramie, WY (solo)
1998
Aspen Art Museum, Portrait Gallery, Aspen, CO (solo)
1998
Santa Monica Museum of Art, Kitchen and Back Yard, Santa Monica, CA (catalogue) (solo)
1998
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas, City, MI (solo)

Public Collections

Brant Foundation, Greenwich, CT
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Deste Foundation Centre For Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece
Fondation Cartier pour l'art Contemporain, Paris, France
François Pinault Foundation, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy
Fundación Privada Sorigué, Lleida, Spain
Fundación/Colección Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico
Honart Museum. Tehran, Iran
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Thomas Olbricht Collection, me Collectors Room, Berlin, Germany
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

Literature

2011
Heartney, Eleanor, Arthur Lubow, Peter Schjedahl, and Lawrence Weschler; Isabel Venero, ed. Liza Lou. New York: Skira Rizzoli Publications, Inc. 2001
2011
Prose, Francine and Michael Duncan, texts. Liza Lou. Los Angeles, California: L&M Arts, 2011
2010
Diederichsen, Diedrich and Christoph Doswald, texts. Liza Lou: American Idol. Paris, France: Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, 2010
2008
Pincus-Witten, Robert and Linda Nochlin. Liza Lou. New York: L&M Arts, 2008
2006
Marlow, Tim and Jeanette Winterson. Liza Lou. London: White Cube, 2006