Fred Wilson (b. 1954, Bronx, New York) challenges assumptions of history, culture, race, and conventions of display with his work. By reframing objects and cultural symbols, he alters traditional interpretations, encouraging viewers to reconsider social and historical narratives. Since his groundbreaking and historically significant exhibition Mining the Museum (1992) at the Maryland Historical Society, Wilson has been the subject of many solo exhibitions, including the retrospective Objects and Installations 1979-2000, which was organized by the Center for Art and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and traveled to Saratoga Springs, Berkeley, Houston, Andover, and Santa Monica, before closing at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Other solo presentations include So Much Trouble in the World—Believe It or Not! at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire (2005); Works 2001–2011 at the Cleveland Museum of Art (2012); Local Color at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2013); Black to the Powers of Ten and Wildfire Test Pit at Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio (2016); and Fred Wilson at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, New York (2017). In 2003, Wilson represented the United States at the 50th Venice Biennale with the solo exhibition Speak of Me as I Am. His many accolades include the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius” Grant (1999); the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (2006); the Alain Locke Award from The Friends of African and African American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts (2013); and a Lifetime Achievement Award, Howard University, Washington, D.C. (2017). He was honored by The Black Alumni of Pratt Institute during their 2017 Celebration of the Creative Spirit.
New York—Pace Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in Frieze New York with a solo presentation of works by Fred Wilson, including flag paintings, Murano glass works, glass drips and sculpture.
Since his groundbreaking exhibition at the Maryland Historical Society in 1992, Wilson’s work has challenged assumptions of history, culture, race and ideas of display. By reframing objects and cultural symbols, he alters traditional meanings or interpretations, encouraging viewers to reconsider social and historical narratives.
Beginning in 2003 when he represented the United States at the Venice Biennale, Wilson has worked with traditional Venetian glassmakers to produce black glass versions of eighteenth-century style chandeliers and ornate mirrors. With these works, Wilson explores the symbolic use of black in relation to race and in association with mourning. Also included in his presentation at the Biennale were Wilson’s black glass drips, which evolved out of his first experimentations with glass as an artist-in-residence at the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle in 2001.
In his flag paintings, Wilson removes the color from the flags of African and African diaspora countries. Leaving only the black graphic elements, and symbols outlined in black acrylic on raw canvas, he questions the notion of the flag as a static representation of a country. For Wilson, these works address what he refers to as the “unfinished business of nationhood in many of these countries.” The painting The People (2010) presents a visual index of black symbols from the world’s flags where the color black represents the citizens or a specific community.
The Mete of the Muse (2006) contrasts two bronze figures—a white-painted nude in the Greco-Roman style and an Egyptian figure with a black patina. In using conventional representations of culture, Wilson is questioning a binary narrative of history.
Wilson’s work will be included in Blackness in Abstraction, a group exhibition at Pace opening June 24th. He will be the subject of an exhibition at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College opening August 30th. In 2017, the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York and the University Museum of Contemporary Art, University of Massachusetts, Amherst will also present solo exhibitions of the artist’s work.
Fred Wilson (b. 1954, Bronx, New York) received his BFA from the State University of New York, Purchase in 1976. He is President of the Board of Trustees at SculptureCenter and also serves on the Board of Trustees at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the American Academy in Rome. In 1999, Wilson was a recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius” Grant. He was awarded the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture in 2006 and the Alain Locke Award from The Friends of African and African American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 2013.
Wilson has been the subject of many solo exhibitions including the historically significant Mining the Museum: An Installation at the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore (1992–93), and Fred Wilson, Objects and Installations 1979–2000, organized by the Center for Art and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, which traveled to Skidmore College; Berkeley Art Museum; Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston; Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover; Santa Monica Museum of Art; The Studio Museum in Harlem; and Chicago Cultural Center (2001–04). Wilson represented the United States in the 2003 Venice Biennale with his solo exhibition Speak of Me as I Am. More recent exhibitions include Local Color at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2013); and Fred Wilson: Works 2004–2011 at the Cleveland Museum of Art (2012–13).
His work is held in over forty public collections, including Baltimore Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum; Cleveland Museum of Art; Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire; Denver Art Museum; Detroit Institute of Arts; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College; Jewish Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Pérez Art Museum Miami; Pizzuti Collection, Columbus; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Seattle Art Museum; The Studio Museum in Harlem; Tate, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Pace has represented Wilson since 2004; he has been the subject of three previous exhibitions at the gallery.