Ellen Gallagher: Don’t Axe Me


Opening this summer, the New Museum will present the first major New York museum exhibition of the work of Ellen Gallagher.

Cover Image:

Cover Image: “Ellen Gallagher: Don’t Axe Me,” 2013. Exhibition view: New Museum. Photo: Benoit Pailley

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Spanning the past twenty years, “Don’t Axe Me” will provide one of the first opportunities to thoroughly examine the complex formal and thematic concerns of one of the most significant artists to emerge since the mid-1990s. The title of the exhibition, “Don’t Axe Me,” evokes her radical approach to image, text, and surface—drawing equally from modernism, mass culture, and social history. This focused survey at the New Museum will run concurrently with Gallagher’s exhibition at the Tate Modern, London (May 2013).

The exhibition traces the transformations, excavations, and accumulations of Gallagher’s practice through a number of her iconic paintings, drawings, prints, and film installations. A major new series of paintings will be presented alongside some of the artist’s most celebrated works. These include several of her early paintings, comprised of intricate drawings rendered on penmanship paper and collaged onto the surface of the canvas, as well as a selection of works on paper using watercolor, ink, cut paper, and other diverse materials. “Don’t Axe Me” will also feature the first New York presentation of Osedax (2010; made in collaboration with Edgar Cleijne)—an immersive environment consisting of 16mm film and painted slide projections inspired by a species of undersea worm that buries into the bones of whale carcasses.

The exhibition highlights the humor, historical depth, psychological complexity, and formal inventiveness inherent in Gallagher’s rich oeuvre.

Ellen Gallagher was born in 1965 in Providence, Rhode Island. She attended Oberlin College; SEA (Sea Education Association), Woods Hole, MA; Studio 70, Fort Thomas, KY; School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Skowhegan School of Art, ME. Gallagher has had solo exhibitions and projects at a number of international institutions including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2001), Des Moines Art Center (2001), the Drawing Center, New York (2002), the Whitney Museum of American Art (2005), the Freud Museum, London (2005), Tate Liverpool (2007), and South London Gallery (2009). She has participated in a number of major group exhibitions including the 1995 and 2010 Whitney Biennials, SITE Santa Fe’s Fifth International Biennial (2004), and “La Triennale” at the Palais de Tokyo (2012). Gallagher lives and works in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and New York.

“Don’t Axe Me” is organized by Gary Carrion-Murayari, Kraus Family Curator.

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Support for “Ellen Gallagher: Don’t Axe Me” is provided, in part, by Michael Cohn and the American Chai Trust, and Bernard Lumpkin and Carmine Boccuzzi.
Additional support is provided by the Mondriaan Fund.
The accompanying exhibition publication is made possible by the J. McSweeney and G. Mills Publications Fund at the New Museum.

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