Theaster Gates: Young Lords and Their Traces


“Young Lords and Their Traces” is the first museum survey exhibition devoted to Theaster Gates (b. 1973, Chicago, IL).

Cover Image:

“Theaster Gates: Young Lords and Their Traces,” 2022. Exhibition view: New Museum, New York. Photo: Dario Lasagni

Second Floor, Third Floor, and Fourth Floor Visit Us

Theaster Gates’s work in the areas of sculpture, social practice, collaborative performance, and archiving has made him one of the most compelling artists active today. Gates emerged in the early 2000s with a sculptural practice characterized by the use of salvaged materials and deeply researched interdisciplinary histories. The elegiac formalism of Gates’s large-scale tar paintings, experimental clay vessels, and immersive architectural installations can be linked to both personal and collective narratives of labor and spirituality. In recent years, Gates has rescued a variety of historical collections of images and objects in Chicago, creating both architectural spaces and sculptural structures for their preservation and dissemination to wider audiences. For Gates, collective forms of knowledge are built across objects, images, sounds, movements, and relationships between people.

In “Young Lords and Their Traces,” Gates honors the radical thinkers who have shaped his city and the United States as a whole. This presentation will comprise a selection of works including paintings, sculptures, videos, performances, and archival collections that together memorialize both heroic figures and more humble, everyday icons. Gates’s elevation of these quieter sources of knowledge, and his assertion that collecting is a form of devotion and remembrance, has made his work reverberate on both the local and international level. “Young Lords and Their Traces” demonstrates the emotional and critical depth of Gates’s consistently surprising art.

“Theaster Gates: Young Lords and Their Traces” is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director, and Gary Carrion-Murayari, Kraus Family Senior Curator, with Madeline Weisburg, Curatorial Assistant.

Continue Reading


Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Major support is provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Artist commissions are generously supported by the Neeson / Edlis Artist Commissions Fund.

Generous support is provided by:
Shane Akeroyd
Ed Bradley Family Foundation
Maja Hoffmann / Luma Foundation
The Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund
Neuberger Berman Private Wealth
Caisa and Åke Skeppner
Donald R. Wilson, Jr.

We gratefully acknowledge the Artistic Director’s Circle of the New Museum: Dakis Joannou, Co-Chair; Eugenio Lopez, Co-Chair; Gael Neeson, Co-Chair; Shane Akeroyd, Pietro Beccari, J. Tomilson and Janine Hill, Richard Mumby, Daniel Palacio, Holly Peterson, Elham and Tony Salamé, and Beth Swofford.

Additional support is provided by the Friends of Theaster Gates:
A4 Arts Foundation
Jill and Jay Bernstein
Dr. Anita Blanchard and Martin Nesbitt
Jenny Brorsen and Richard DeMartini
Rebecca and Martin Eisenberg
Marilyn and Larry Fields
Barbara and Michael Gamson
Noel E.D. Kirnon
Liz and Eric Lefkofsky
Amanda Precourt
Beth Rudin DeWoody
June and Paul Schorr

Special thanks to Gagosian and White Cube.

Education and community programs are supported, in part, by the American Chai Trust.

Support for the accompanying publication has been provided, in part, by the J. McSweeney and G. Mills Publications Fund at the New Museum.

Related Events

Get Updates

We want to hear from you!

Help us improve our website by taking a 5-minute survey with a chance to win $100!

Take Survey
Back to mobile site