Lucas Samaras (b. 1936, Kastoria, Macedonia, Greece) has produced an expansive body of work across media and discipline—including photography, painting, installation, assemblage, drawing, and sculpture—united by a focus on the body and psyche. Emphasizing autobiography, he has often made himself the subject of his own work, using his image to push the boundaries of physical and psychological transformation.
He has been the subject of more than one-hundred solo exhibitions and seven major career retrospectives, including Unrepentant Ego: The Self-Portraits of Lucas Samaras at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 2004, which featured a staggering 400 works. In 2009, Samaras represented Greece at the Venice Biennale with an exhibition that spanned four decades of the artist’s practice. His work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including the Annual Exhibition: Contemporary American Sculpture, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1964, 1968, 1970); Documenta (1968, 1972, 1977, 2017); and the Venice Biennale (1980).
An exhibition of twenty works from 2010 to 2012 by Lucas Samaras will inaugurate Pace’s new gallery at 508 West 25th Street. This is the artist’s thirty-third exhibition at Pace, which has represented him since 1965. XYZ will be on view from September 28 through October 27. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, September 27 from 6 to 8 p.m.
In XYZ, Samaras continues his deeply focused explorations in manipulating materials and images, alluding to his early work with the Polaroid camera and extending the technique he first embraced in the 1970s of slicing colors into abstract, mosaic-like paintings. Rather than stitching tangible materials, in XYZ, Samaras uses the computer to make dazzling pure pigment prints where he fuses his photographs with selected digital effects to create hyper-chromatic compositions.
The exhibition presents work from four new series: two, called “Chinoiserie” and “Cock and Bull,” explore abstract patterns, both in isolation and overlaid onto virtual interiors and geometric figures. In the “Flea” series, Samaras manipulates photographs that he took at Manhattan’s flea markets, using mirrored effects and both subtle and intense adjustments to transform mundane found scenes into eerie, disorienting, and highly-keyed arrays of treasure.
The fourth series, “Razor Cut,” represents the most dramatic evolution in his recent work. Working without photographic source material, Samaras conceived a cast of psychedelic characters and built compositions that reveal vivid and operatic narratives. These subjects are Samaras’s complete creations, as opposed to prior bodies of work in which he invited people to be his subjects, such as Poses/Born Actors (2010) or his iconic Sittings (1978–1981), where participants were instructed to undress in his studio and pose nude, a concept that he inverted in Ecdysiast and Viewers (2006). In that video piece, which was featured in the Greek National Pavilion at the 2009 Venice Biennale, the sitters reacted to his provocations. In “Razor Cut,” Samaras resumes complete control of both action and reaction, generating the frenetic energy of the characters. The projection of the artist’s self no longer depends on other human beings but is manifested directly in a strange and saturated virtual world.
Lucas Samaras (b. 1936, Kastoria, Macedonia, Greece) has been the subject of more than one-hundred solo exhibitions and seven major career retrospectives, including Unrepentant Ego: The Self-Portraits of Lucas Samaras at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 2004, which featured a staggering 400 works. In 2009, Samaras represented Greece at the Venice Biennale with an exhibition that spanned four decades of the artist’s practice. He was most recently featured in Pace’s seminal historical exhibition Happenings: New York, 1958–1963 and included in À rebours, the exhibition curated by Adam Lindemann to inaugurate the gallery Venus Over Manhattan. Samaras’s work is held in forty-five public collections worldwide, including the Australian National Gallery, Canberra; Berardo Museum, Lisbon; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate Gallery, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Lucas Samaras lives and works in New York.
For more information about Lucas Samaras: XYZ, please contact Pace’s public relations department at 212.421.8987.
The Wall Street Journal featured a review of Lucas Samaras: XYZ, crediting Samaras with influencing and inspiring many of today’s most notable artists: “Mr. Samaras is the original over-the-top artist of our time; without him, there would be no Lari Pittman, no George Condo, even (in her later grotesques) no Cindy Sherman. If Mr. Samaras weren't such a credible devotee of indulgent personal expression, you might think that this new, supremely dizzying show is a gauntlet thrown down to other ar
This week’s New York magazine spotlights Lucas Samaras and five other artists who have historically worked with Polaroid instant film. As soon as the Polaroid camera was introduced to the public in 1972, Samaras seized upon it as a tool for artistic expression, manipulating the dyes within the photograph to create distorted images and “painting” kaleidoscopic swirls of color for “Photo-Transformations,” his iconic series of self-portraits. Samaras, Chuck Close, Andy Warhol, and other artists a
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