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b. 1968, USA

Doug Aitken Biography

The practice of Doug Aitken is most widely recognised as immersive, collaborative and engaged with both the art world and the wider world. This approach results in works in a variety of media such as video, sculpture and photography.

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Aitken is perhaps best known for his 'nomadic happening', Station to Station (2013) in which he invited artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Patti Smith and Urs Fischer, amongst others, to participate in a cross-country nine-carriage train ride from New York to California, spontaneously collaborating to create art, food and music along the way. There were nine stops, and a 'happening' (an art-related performance event) occurred at each stop. The train was covered in LED screens; along the way a visual light installation continuously played. The project was intended as an alternative art experience. Instead of being held in a gallery or institution, the art travelled, grew and became a presence in every moment of the artist's life. In 2015, this event recreated itself at the Barbican Centre in the form of Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening. Described as a 'living exhibition', over its month-long existence it played host to more than 100 contemporary artists, musicians, dancers, filmmakers and designers.

In late 2016, during his solo exhibition Doug Aitken: Electric Earth (10 September 2016–15 January 2017) at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Aitken installed Underwater Pavilions off the coast of Catalina Island, California. Underwater Pavilions consisted of three hexagon-shaped spheres submerged between five and 50 feet underwater. Viewers had to dive to view the work and could swim both in and around the spheres. The spheres contained panels sculpted from artificial rock and mirror. The mirrored surfaces induced a kaleidoscopic effect; in an interview with The New York Times Aitken remarked on the experience of this effect, 'I could see the ocean floor above me and the sun below me'. The objects' shiny and multifarious surfaces cause them to seem continuously in flux—affected by tides, sunlight, sun, fish and divers. Rather than sculptures or monuments, they are living things. The work is based on Aitken's philosophy that to make art living, one should immerse it in the real world and allow it to experience the flux of nature.

In 2017, Aitken participated in Desert X—the art biennial of Palm Springs, California, featuring 16 artists including Gabriel Kuri, Claudia Comte and Armando Lerma. For the event, Aitken created Mirage—a ranch-style home in Coachella Valley covered on every surface by mirrors. The ranch style of architecture was developed in the 1920s and 1930s by combining Frank Lloyd Wright's modernist architecture and traditional western ranches. After World War II, the style boomed and became a fixture of the Californian landscape. By turning the quintessential Californian architecture into a house of mirrors, Mirage may change with its surrounding nature—blending in but perhaps standing out even more so in the process. In the struggle between the natural and the artificial, the house plays on both sides. Aitken works with the materiality of the suburban west, illustrating the vast power of the landscape and the history of architecture's attempted encroachment upon it.

Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2017

Doug Aitken Featured Artworks

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no direction home by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug Aitkenno direction home, 2008C-print mounted on aluminium, framed
122 x 152.5 cm
Galerie Eva Presenhuber Contact Gallery
grounded by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug Aitkengrounded, 2008C-print mounted on aluminium, framed
122 x 152.5 cm
Galerie Eva Presenhuber Contact Gallery
Inside Out (chimes/medium) by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug AitkenInside Out (chimes/medium), 2019Mirrored metal and silent motor
Victoria Miro Enquire
Shock and Awe (two chairs and pool) by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug AitkenShock and Awe (two chairs and pool), 2019Chromogenic transparency on acrylic in aluminium lightbox with LEDs
172 x 316 x 18 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
Inside Out by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug AitkenInside Out, 2019Zebrino marble, stainless steel
178 x 117 x 122 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
All doors open by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug AitkenAll doors open, 2019Acrylic, LED, wood
95 x 305 x 213 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire
Decrease the Mass and Run like Hell, 1999 (For Parkett 57) by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug AitkenDecrease the Mass and Run like Hell, 1999 (For Parkett 57), 1999Mirror kite, with poster of flying kite
Parkett Contact Gallery
Eyes closed, wide awake (sonic fountain II) by Doug Aitken contemporary artwork
Doug AitkenEyes closed, wide awake (sonic fountain II), 2014Powder-coated steel, foam, recirculating fountain and audio system
229.2 x 71.8 x 71.8 cm
Victoria Miro Enquire

Doug Aitken Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Positions on Photography at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich
Closed
21 July–19 September 2020 Group Exhibition Positions on Photography Galerie Eva PresenhuberOnline Only
Contemporary art exhibition, Doug Aitken, Return to the Real at Victoria Miro, London
Closed
2 October–20 December 2019 Doug Aitken Return to the Real Victoria Miro, Wharf Rd, LondonWharf Road, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Doug Aitken, Desire at Winsing Art Place, Taipei
Closed
13 July–15 September 2019 Doug Aitken Desire Winsing Art Place, TaipeiTaipei

Doug Aitken Represented By

Galerie Eva Presenhuber contemporary art gallery in Maag Areal, Zürich, Switzerland Galerie Eva Presenhuber Zurich, New York
Victoria Miro contemporary art gallery in Wharf Road, London, United Kingdom Victoria Miro London, Venice

Doug Aitken In Ocula Magazine

Taipei Connections: Eleven Works to Collect Ocula Insight Taipei Connections: Eleven Works to Collect By Sam Gaskin, Taipei

Ai Weiwei, Odyssey (2016) at Chambers Fine Art Resembling paintings on a Grecian urn, this wallpaper is an epic narrative about the plight of refugees, one of Ai Weiwei's chief concerns in recent years. Ai himself fled China for Europe after years of violence and intimidation. Dóra Maurer, Overlappings 34 (2006). Acrylic on canvas...

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Taipei Dangdai Launches Digital Platform With Ocula Ocula News Taipei Dangdai Launches Digital Platform With Ocula Taipei, 23 April 2020

Taipei Connections seeks to build a bridge between galleries and collectors separated by COVID-19.

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Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Ocula Conversation Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo By Stephanie Bailey, Turin

Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Guarene and Turin, together with the Madrid Fundación, are creating a new constellation; mapping out a new geography that concretely embodies an idea of Europe based on reciprocity—between places, communities, fields of knowledge and cultures.

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The Lowdown: shows to see during Frieze week Ocula Report The Lowdown: shows to see during Frieze week By Robert Ayers, New York

With Frieze New York returning to Randall's Island Park from 4 to 6 May 2018, Ocula is on hand to offer a selection of exhibitions around the city, from Bushwick and the LES to Chelsea, Midtown and the Upper East Side. Exhibition view: Before the Fall: German and Austrian Art of the 1930s, Neue Galerie New York (8 March–28 May 2018)....

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Doug Aitken In Related Press

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Doug Aitken’s new show embraces real time Related Press Doug Aitken’s new show embraces real time 1 October 2019, Wallpaper*

The very American art of Doug Aitken is, most of it anyway, at once transcendent and dangerously of the now. He is in that sense a pop artist proper. He is also able and agile in many medium and an assembler of performances (he has fantastic taste in musical collaborators) and creative happenings.

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Doug Aitken takes the scenic route across Massachusetts with mirrored hot air balloon Related Press Doug Aitken takes the scenic route across Massachusetts with mirrored hot air balloon 18 July 2019, Wallpaper*

For two weeks in July, a mirrored sphere is taking flight above the eastern US coastline and western Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. Reflecting back the sun, clouds, and natural surroundings, the nomadic piece of public art is Doug Aitken's response to many of the most beautiful places in Massachusetts protected by The Trustees of...

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Fluxus in the air: Doug Aitken's hot air balloon sails above Massachusetts Related Press Fluxus in the air: Doug Aitken's hot air balloon sails above Massachusetts 11 July 2019, The Art Newspaper

The project, called New Horizon, lifts off on 12 July at Long Point beach on Martha's Vineyard. Over the following 16 days, it will alight at the Farm Institute in Edgartown, the Holmes Reservation in Plymouth, the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, the Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, the Naumkeag in Stockbridge and the...

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Preview Art Basel 2019 Related Press Preview Art Basel 2019 7 June 2019, ARTnews

Art Basel 2019 opens to the public on Thursday, June 13, with two preview days, on June 11 and 12. Some 290 galleries from 34 countries will show work at the Swiss fair, which runs through June 16.

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Doug Aitken In Video & Audio

Doug Aitken at Victoria Miro Mayfair Related Video & Audio Doug Aitken at Victoria Miro Mayfair

This specific constellation of five key works has been conceived for Victoria Miro Mayfair by Doug Aitken and deals with contemporary ideas of time through the use of sound, touch, light and reflectivity, with each work existing in a zone between abstraction and representation. At the core of the exhibition is Eyes closed, wide...

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