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b. 1969, United Kingdom

Keith Tyson Biography

English artist Keith Tyson lays claim to a broad and diverse range of contemporary artwork produced over the course of his nearly 30-year career—a career defined by the extensive examination of a variety of generative processes. He has exhibited in galleries across Britain, Europe, the United States, Asia, and South America, including Turner prize retrospectives in England (2007, Tate Britain) and Japan (2008, Mori Art Museum). His works also feature in prominent international collections including those of the Centre Pompidou, The Museum of Modern Art, the South London Gallery, Tate Modern, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, and the Arts Council Collection.

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Spanning the mediums of drawing, painting, sculpture, and installation, Tyson's works delve into practices of pop, abstraction, and conceptual art. Across this wide field, the artist's practice continually morphs and transforms, but it consistently looks to concerns such as the comprehension of natural and manmade systems, as well as the physical and conceptual forces involved in the process of creating things. Within these fields, he has expressed interest in the complexity and interconnectivity of the cosmos, having stated that 'Our world is full of intricately connected systems and events. I'm simply trying to make work in collaboration with them.'

Tyson started his working life as an apprentice engineer involved in making nuclear submarines before deciding to pursue a career in art. He graduated from the Carlisle College of Art in 1990 and completed an MA in Alternative Practice at the University of Brighton in 1993. Playfully combining his logical, scientific background with visual art, he made his debut on the art scene in the 1990s with his 'Artmachine' series. Artworks from this series reflected the artist's interest in the interplay of logical scientific method and chance in how things come into being. Of the works produced the artist told Glenn Brown in an interview for BOMB Magazine that 'they all talk about the mystery that anything exists as opposed to there being nothing at all'. The Artmachine was a semi-conceptual device—not a single machine but a collection of computer programmes, charts, and books, used in unison to draw together instructions that determined the artist's work. These ranged from presenting conspiracy theories around KFC to a photographic depiction on canvas of a flower stall, solar eclipse, hammer or foreskin. While most of the more than 12,000 proposals generated by the Artmachine are unmade, the artist did realise a number of works, referred to as 'Artmachine Iterations'. These works became the basis of his earliest exhibitions, such as From the Artmachine (14 Iterations) at Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London (1995).

From the early 2000s, Tyson moved towards a more direct artistic method. In the 2001 Venice Biennale, he presented the installation Drawing and Thinking (2001), which included The Thinker (After Rodin) (2001). The Thinker brings Rodin's subject into the 21st century by replacing the human form with a 12-foot black column containing a bank of computers running an artificial life programme; the machine thinks but its thoughts are impenetrable. The following year, Tyson became the 18th recipient of the Turner Prize. The installation for the Prize included The Thinker (After Rodin), as well as Bubble Chambers: 2 Discrete Molecules of Simultaneity—a diptych incorporating vividly coloured speech bubbles connecting two random and disparate events that occurred on the same day.

A defining work of Tyson's practice is his Large Field Array (2006). First exhibited at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, the large-scale installation is named after a field of radio telescopes in New Mexico. Just as the telescopic array focuses on one spot from multiple viewpoints to build a clear picture, Tyson's combination of more than 300 distinct sculptural forms—each uniformly two square feet and evenly spaced in a cubic pattern across the gallery wall and floor space—explores the unseen cosmically linked forces that are the fabric of our reality. Drawing science and logic together with fiction and the surreal, the variety of objects within the array—from mathematical models to giant coffee mugs and houses of cards—are all connected in some way; the viewer's challenge is to recognise these physical and conceptual links.

In a number of works, Tyson explores the interconnectedness of the cosmos through his own subconscious. In works such as Nature Painting (2010) Tyson follows the method of the action painter, pouring a mixture of paint onto an aluminium surface. Unlike most action painters, however, he has scientifically predetermined the outcome of this pour based on physics and mathematics. Underpinning most of the artist's career has been a process of sketching, which he used to create a series called 'Studio Wall Drawings' (1997–ongoing). This series comprises sketches existing between, in the artist's words, 'a sketchbook, a drawing, a painting, a journal, and a poem'. The collection of drawn thoughts explores the artist's associative responses to ideas around him.

In a recent series, Tyson purposefully confined himself to the genre of still life painting to explore how art is a product of context. His output within this confine is displayed in the exhibition Life Still at Hauser and Wirth London (22 May–7 September 2019). Works such as Light, Mass and Acceleration (2018) layer together formal aspects of painting from disparate cultures and time periods—traditional realism is combined with the title's Futurist preoccupations, as well as the geometric patterns of Op art. Culture, art, and history are played out in layers upon the artist's canvas. While formally exploring how surrounding context of a painting can determine its outcome, the act of combing disparate visual motifs reflects upon the globalisation of modern society while still operating within the time-honoured tradition of still-life painting.

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2019

Keith Tyson Featured Artworks

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Time's Arrow by Keith Tyson contemporary artwork
Keith TysonTime's Arrow, 1969–2019Oil on aluminium
78.6 x 63.1 x 4.5 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
Parkett Paperweight, 2004 (For Parkett 71) by Keith Tyson contemporary artwork
Keith TysonParkett Paperweight, 2004 (For Parkett 71), 2004Pebble on copper plate, partially painted in enamel, mounted on rubber base
Parkett Contact Gallery
Ikebana - Waterfall Stage (Boss Level) by Keith Tyson contemporary artwork
Keith TysonIkebana - Waterfall Stage (Boss Level), 2018Oil on aluminium
247.7 x 171.5 cm (incl frame)
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
New Order (Remix) by Keith Tyson contemporary artwork
Keith TysonNew Order (Remix), 2018Oil on canvas (in Artist's frame)
78.6 x 63.1 cm (incl frame)
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
Still Life with Qianlong Vase by Keith Tyson contemporary artwork
Keith TysonStill Life with Qianlong Vase, 2018Oil on canvas
78.5 x 63 cm (incl frame)
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
Installation view (ceiling) by Keith Tyson contemporary artwork
Keith TysonInstallation view (ceiling), 2009Mixed media on aluminium

Not for sale
Nature Painting_ by Keith Tyson contemporary artwork
Keith TysonNature Painting_, 2009Mixed Media on Aluminium
91.5 x 91.5 cm
Not for sale
Nature Painting by Keith Tyson contemporary artwork
Keith TysonNature Painting, 2010Mixed media on aluminium
61 x 61 cm
Not for sale

Keith Tyson Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Small Format at Pace Gallery, New York
13 February–19 March 2020 Group Exhibition Small Format Pace GalleryNew York
Contemporary art exhibition, Keith Tyson, Life Still at Hauser & Wirth, London
22 May–7 September 2019 Keith Tyson Life Still Hauser & WirthLondon
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Tables, Carpets & Dead Flowers at Hauser & Wirth, Zurich
17 November–21 December 2018 Group Exhibition Tables, Carpets & Dead Flowers Hauser & WirthZürich

Keith Tyson Represented By

Hauser & Wirth contemporary art gallery in Hong Kong Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong, Zurich, London, New York, Los Angeles, Somerset, Gstaad, St. Moritz
Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Pace Gallery New York, London, Geneva, Palo Alto, Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing

Keith Tyson In Related Press

Keith Tyson – interview: ‘I’m quite happy for the world to seep through me and for the work to just emerge’ Related Press Keith Tyson – interview: ‘I’m quite happy for the world to seep through me and for the work to just emerge’ 29 May 2019, studio international

Keith Tyson (b. 1969) is a polymath, although his prolific interest in philosophy, astronomy, mathematical patterns, computers, algorithms and physics has also garnered him the nickname the 'mad professor' or 'wacky boffin' of art, because all of the above can be found woven into his work. He first came to attention for his 1990s Artmachine...

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Keith Tyson: in the studio Related Press Keith Tyson: in the studio 5 April 2016, The Telegraph

British artist Keith Tyson, 46, started out as an apprentice engineer, working in the shipyards of Barrow-in-Furness. Having left high school at 15, aged 20, he enrolled in art college. Fascinated by chance, logic and the mysteries of the universe, many of his early works were made via the Art Machine, a conceptual device he invented at...

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Duncan Campbell Turner Prize Winner 2014 Related Press Duncan Campbell Turner Prize Winner 2014 2 December 2014, Anita Singh for The Telegraph UK / 1 December 2014

Duncan Campbell is the winner of this year’s Turner Prize with a 54-minute film that even the chairman of the jury described as “a bit baffling”. Campbell’s film, It for Others (2013), is a montage of Marxist economics, contemporary dance, comedy ketchup bottles, African tribal masks and images of the IRA member Joe McCann.

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On cloud nine: Turner Prize-winner Keith Tyson reveals the surprising ideas behind his mind-bending work Related Press On cloud nine: Turner Prize-winner Keith Tyson reveals the surprising ideas behind his mind-bending work 13 September 2009, Independent

You could say that, at first sight, the work of the artist Keith Tyson is simply inexplicable. But that's not strictly true: some of his paintings even come with explanations attached – although to understand them, it might help to have a grasp of algebra. Why does a sombre canvas resembling a Dutch still-life – with fruit, stuffed animals and a...

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Keith Tyson In Video & Audio

Keith Tyson. BIG DATA Related Video & Audio Keith Tyson. BIG DATA 13 March 2018, Hauser & Wirth

BIG DATA, a solo exhibition of recent paintings by Turner Prize winner Keith Tyson, references the artist's ongoing interest in interconnectivity, universal experiences and the effect of computing and data consumption on himself and society as a whole over the past several decades. Tyson's works display the varied approaches towards painting he...

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Keith Tyson: A Pattern of Mystery Related Video & Audio Keith Tyson: A Pattern of Mystery 1 May 2014, Louisiana Channel

Keith Tyson was interviewed at the David Risley Gallery in Copenhagen, Denmark by Kasper Bech Dyg.

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