David Byrne, Tight Spot, 2011, cold air inflatable with audio, 19' 6" x 48' x 48' (594.4 cm x 1,463 cm x 1,463 cm) © David Byrne

David Byrne


David Byrne was raised in Baltimore where he briefly attended the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 1971 after transferring from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.

Byrne studied photography, performance, and video production at MICA. In 1975 Byrne co-founded the group Talking Heads, who in the 80s introduced an innovative visual approach to their performances.

Byrne has been involved with photography, drawing, installations, performance and design since college and has been publishing and exhibiting his work since the 1990s. Like his music, Byrne’s visual work has the capacity to elevate and transform ordinary elements into iconic ones and challenges our fundamental notions of what can be classified as art.

Recent works include the Broadway debut of David Byrne’s American Utopia (2019) as well as the forthcoming Spike Lee directed film version (2020), the launch of his Reasons to be Cheerful online magazine (2019), and the solo album American Utopia (2018). Byrne co-founded the band Talking Heads (1976), for which he was the guitarist and lead singer, and established the record labels Luaka Bop (1988) and Todo Mundo (2008). Other artistic achievements include the theatrical piece Joan of Arc: Into the Fire (2017); a series of interactive environments questioning human perception and bias, The Institute Presents: NEUROSOCIETY (2016); the theatrical production Here Lies Love (2013); the public installation Tight Spot (2011) at Pace Gallery; the audio installation Playing the Building (2005); the public installation Everything is Connected (2002) at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York. Byrne wrote, directed, and starred in True Stories, a musical collage of discordant Americana released in 1986. For his contribution to The Last Emperor’s soundtrack Byrne received an Academy Award for Best Original Score and in 2004, Byrne won the Wired Award for Art for his project Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information (EEEI) that used the presentation software PowerPoint as an art medium.

Byrne’s work belongs to numerous collections, including the Denver Art Museum and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, N.C.

His book projects include True Stories (1986); Strange Ritual (1995); Your Action World (1998, 1999); The New Sins/Los Nuevos Pecados (2001); David Byrne Asks You: What Is It? (2002); Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information (2003); Arboretum (2006) and How Music Works (2012).

Byrne lives and works in New York City.


David Byrne, Human Content, 2002, pencil on paper, 16-7/8" x 14" paper, signed, titled and dated verso in pencil unique © David Byrne


David Byrne, The Influence of Mixed Drinks, 2003, pencil on paper, 17" x 14" paper, signed, titled and dated verso in pencil unique © David Byrne


David Byrne, Smoke, 2006, embroidery on upholstery, 18" x 14" overall, signed, titled, dated and numbered verso in ink, Edition of 5 © David Byrne


David Byrne, Morally Repugnant, 2003, pencil on paper, 17" x 14" paper, signed, titled and dated verso in pencil unique © David Byrne


David Byrne, Doggie Chew Toy, 2004, black and white digital inkjet print on Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper with Ultrachrome inks, 11" x 8-1/2" paper, Edition of 5 © David Byrne