Adam Pendleton, Untitled (WE ARE NOT), 2019, silkscreen ink on canvas, 96" × 69" (243.8 cm × 175.3 cm) © Adam Pendleton

Adam Pendleton


b. 1984, Richmond, Virginia



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Adam Pendleton uses historical and aesthetic content from texts and visual culture to critically examine the resonance of ideas from varied cultural perspectives, including social resistance movements and Dada, Minimalism, and Conceptualism.

Pendleton’s early period consisted of conceptually driven abstract paintings, often incorporating text. These early works caught the eye of gallerist Kazuko Miyamoto and she included one of his paintings in a summer group show at Gallery Onetwentyeight, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. An assistant to Sol LeWitt at the time, Miyamoto was visited by the artist, who took interest in Pendleton’s painting and agreed to trade one of his own pieces for it, making LeWitt one of Pendleton’s first collectors.

In 2004, Pendleton received his first one-artist exhibition, Being Here, at Wallspace Gallery, New York, which coincided with his first major group show, When Contemporary Art Speaks, at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Indiana. In 2005, Pendleton had his first solo exhibition at Yvon Lambert, New York, presenting text-based screen print paintings that appropriated the writings of Toni Morrison and Audre Lorde, among other poets, overlapping the critical use of language, conceptual art, and activism.


Adam Pendleton, Black Dada (A/K), 2017–18, silkscreen ink on canvas, 2 panels: 48" × 76" (121.9 cm × 193 cm), each; 96" × 76" (243.8 cm × 193 cm), overall © Adam Pendleton

Marking a shift in his work toward the deconstruction and reimagining of existing forms, Pendleton created the time-based work The Revival (2007). Commissioned for the 2007 Performa Biennial, The Revival featured Pendleton reciting a secular sermon in front of a large gospel choir, engaging in a call and response with the audience bearing witness. The following year, Pendleton was recognized with his first major one-person museum exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (2008), and participated in Manifesta 7, in Rovereto, Italy, where he conceived of his Black Dada manifesto (2008) and presented it as a performance. Pendleton proposes Black Dada as a way to talk about the future while addressing the past. “Black” functions as an open-ended signifier and Dada as a reference to the avant-garde art movement. His solo exhibition Becoming Imperceptible (2016), the largest of his work at that time, was organized by the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, before closing at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Ohio.


Adam Pendleton, Untitled (A Victim of American Democracy), 2017, silkscreen ink and spray paint on canvas, 84" × 60" (213.36 cm × 152.40 cm) © Adam Pendleton

In 2017, Koenig Books published his Black Dada Reader, a collection of documents and essays from various sources that relate to the conceptual framework of Black Dada. Within this context, Pendleton inserts his work into broader conversations about appropriation, representation, and political engagement—from Sol LeWitt’s incomplete open cube structures to protest posters. In 2018, Pace in London exhibited Pendleton’s Our Ideas which encompassed several pieces from earlier bodies of work alongside recent development’s in the artist’s practice. The exhibition included a series of paintings titled Untitled (A Victim of American Democracy) (2018), on which spray-painted vertical lines are layered with enlarged, cut-up language drawn from a 1964 speech by Malcolm X.


Adam Pendleton, Ishmael in the Garden: A Portrait of Ishmael Houston-Jones, 2018, black-and-white and color video, 24 minutes 15 seconds, dimensions variable. Installation view at Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin (2019). © Adam Pendleton


Adam Pendleton, Untitled (masks), 2018, silkscreen ink on mylar, overall dimensions variable 51-1/2" × 39-1/2" (130.8 cm × 100.3 cm), 4 sheets, each 54-5/16" × 42-5/16" (138 cm × 107.5 cm), 4 artist's frame, each © Adam Pendleton


Adam Pendleton, OK DADA OK BLACK DADA OK (WE NEED), 2018, silkscreen ink and spray paint on canvas, 84" × 60" (213.4 cm × 152.4 cm) © Adam Pendleton


Adam Pendleton, System of Display, D (AROUND/Jean-Marie Straub, Not Reconciled, Or Only Violence Helps Where Violence Rules, 1965), 2011, silkscreen ink on plexiglass and mirror, 9-13/16" × 9-13/16" × 3-1/8" (24.9 cm × 24.9 cm × 7.9 cm) © Adam Pendleton


Adam Pendleton, System of Display, I (WRITING/Art of Black Africa, Kunsthaus Zurich, 1970), 2018, silkscreen ink on plexiglass and mirror, 9-13/16" × 9-13/16" × 3-1/8" (24.9 cm × 24.9 cm × 7.9 cm) © Adam Pendleton