James Siena (b. 1957, Oceanside, California) is a New York based artist whose complex, rule-based linear abstractions have situated him firmly within the trajectory of modern American art. His artwork is driven by self-imposed predetermined sets of rules, or “visual algorithms,” which find their end-result in intensely concentrated, vibrantly-colored, freehand geometric patterns. Mr. Siena works across a diverse range of media, including lithography, etching, woodcut, engraving, drawing, and painting. His work is held in numerous prestigious public and private collections across the U.S., including Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
New York—Pace Gallery is pleased to announce James Siena’s first exhibition of sculptures. The exhibition features three bodies of work that expand the formal language of his painting into sculpture, marking the culmination of a decades-long development of three-dimensional work. The exhibition at 508 West 25th Street runs from March 27 through April 25, 2015. An opening reception for the artist will be held Saturday, March 28, 6 to 8 p.m.
Siena began making sculptures in the early 1980s by assembling toothpicks into elaborate configurations evocative of his grid-like drawings. In 2013 he started working with the Walla Walla Foundry to fabricate larger bronze and wooden sculptures inspired by these toothpick versions. In both the early toothpick and later fabricated iterations, Siena creates dynamic geometries through crisscrossing lines on both the exterior frame and interior of his sculptures. Lines condense into tight spaces and expand into apertures, incorporating the exhibition environment into the visual space of the work. The early toothpick works will be exhibited alongside their bronze and wooden counterparts, highlighting how the translation into different sizes and materials yields varied effects.
During the fabrication of the bronze and wood works, Siena embarked on a separate body of sculptures using bamboo skewers bound with string. Similar to his painting, each work follows a specific set of rules that constrain his process. In creating the works, Siena tied each skewer together at its vertices, which demanded that he create new tools, used to tie intersections remotely, out of reach of his hands; this process resonates with the meticulous and analogue methods he uses in his painting.
Both bodies of work will be exhibited on tables and shelves, with some pieces mounted to the wall. The works’ grid-like structures create elaborate shadows of interlocking lines on the floor and white walls. This flattening effect conflates these three-dimensional works with the algorithmic two-dimensional paintings he has produced since the 1980s, grounding the sculptures within the same formal principles that have characterized his work for decades.
James Siena (b. 1957, Oceanside, CA) received his BFA from Cornell University in 1979. His work has been featured in more than 110 solo and group exhibitions including the 2004 Whitney Biennial and Greater New York, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY (2000). In 2011, Siena was elected to the National Academy, New York. Other honors include the Cornell Eissner Artist of the Year Award (2009), the Award in Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2000) and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Competition Award (1999). Siena completed a residency at Yaddo in 2004 and was elected to its board of directors in 2008. A digital catalogue raissoné of James Siena’s paintings and sculptures is forthcoming from Artifex Press.
Concurrent with his exhibition at Pace, Siena’s work will also be on view through March 22 in Line: Making the Mark at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and in the 2015 invitational exhibition at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, from March 10 to April 12, 2015.
Siena’s work is included in numerous public collections including the Armand Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Pérez Art Museum Miami; Milwaukee Art Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, among others.
Siena lives and works in New York. He has been represented by Pace since 2004.
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2015. Pace Gallery. Paperback