HomePage Artists

b. 1978, USA

John Knuth Biography

John Knuth's creative conjurings challenge traditional notions of art making, even in this millennium. His paintings force extreme tension between the sacred and the profane, creating stunning works by way of indelicate techniques. Knuth's mission is to take something traditionally regarded as base, and to make it into something magnificent, where the materials feel secondary to the radical result. Knuth's approach is alchemical. Like an art world diviner, he conjures the elements, from making burn paintings with distress flares and metallic space blankets to using fly regurgitation to make the most incandescent, shimmering paintings. He has perfected his process using flyspeck, which can be said to fall within the art historical continuum that includes the Pre-Raphaelites' Mummy Brown or Chris Ofili's elephant dung.

Read More

Knuth devised a truly unique process to create his latest works, one that begins with mail-ordering hundreds of thousands of maggots. These are placed in a specially built enclosure consisting of two facing canvases encased in netting and are allowed to develop into mature houseflies. Knuth's flies feed on a steady diet of sugar water infused with watercolor paint, which they continually ingest and regurgitate over the course of two to three months. These tiny regurgitations cover the canvases in a pointillist haze inspired by the smog of Los Angeles. The artist relishes the unpredictable outcomes of these fly works, likening the flies' organic chaos to the hectic nature of the modern urban environment. The works are landscapes that explore the boundary between beauty and decay, and the line between attraction and revulsion.

John Knuth was born in 1978 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and lives and works in Los Angeles, California. He received an MFA from University of Southern California and a BFA from the University of Minnesota. Knuth's recent solo exhibitions include Powerplant at Brand New Gallery, Milan, Italy; Base Alchemy at 5 Car Garage, Santa Monica, CA; Master Plan at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, IL; Elevated Uncertainty at Marie Kirkegaard, Copenhagen, Denmark; and Fading Horizon at Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA. His works has recently been included in group shows at International Print Center, New York, NY; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY; MassArt, Boston, MA; Self-Titled, Tilburg, NL; Loudhailer, Greene Exhibitions, China Art Objects and Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, CA, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Text courtesy Hollis Taggart.

Exhibition view: John Knuth, The Dawn, Hollis Taggart, Southport (15 May–3 July 2021). Courtesy Hollis Taggart. 

John Knuth Featured Artworks

View All (25)
Sunrise in the East by John Knuth contemporary artwork
John KnuthSunrise in the East, 2019Flyspeck/acrylic on canvas
91.4 x 121.9 cm
Hollis Taggart Contact Gallery
Untitled by John Knuth contemporary artwork
John KnuthUntitled, 2021Acrylic/flyspeck on ostrich egg on acrylic stand
Hollis Taggart Contact Gallery
Untitled by John Knuth contemporary artwork
John KnuthUntitled, 2021Acrylic/flyspeck on ostrich egg on acrylic stand
Hollis Taggart Contact Gallery
Untitled by John Knuth contemporary artwork
John KnuthUntitled, 2021Acrylic/flyspeck on ostrich egg on acrylic stand
Hollis Taggart Contact Gallery
Untitled by John Knuth contemporary artwork
John KnuthUntitled, 2021Acrylic/flyspeck on ostrich egg on acrylic stand
Hollis Taggart Contact Gallery
Untitled by John Knuth contemporary artwork
John KnuthUntitled, 2021Acrylic/Flyspeck on archival cold press watercolour paper
69.2 x 54 cm
Hollis Taggart Contact Gallery
Untitled by John Knuth contemporary artwork
John KnuthUntitled, 2021Acrylic/Flyspeck on archival cold press watercolour paper
71.1 x 53.3 cm
Hollis Taggart Contact Gallery
Untitled by John Knuth contemporary artwork
John KnuthUntitled, 2021Acrylic/Flyspeck on archival cold press watercolour paper
72.4 x 54.6 cm
Hollis Taggart Contact Gallery

John Knuth Current Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, John Knuth, The Dawn at Hollis Taggart, Southport, New York
Open Now
15 May–3 July 2021 John Knuth The Dawn Hollis TaggartSouthport

John Knuth Represented By

Hollis Taggart contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Hollis Taggart New York
Be among the first to know when new artworks and exhibitions by John Knuth are added to Ocula.
Sign Up
}