b. 1952, USA

Lari Pittman Biography

Los Angeles-based artist Lari Pittman is recognised for his often bold-coloured and meticulously layered paintings that reflect and explore the heterogeneous fabric of contemporary life.

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Early Years

Pittman studied at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where he received his BFA (1974) and MFA (1976).

Lari Pittman Artworks

Lari Pittman's works, densely packed with a plethora of patterns, symbols, and images, are inspired by diverse sources ranging from commercial advertising to folk art, applied arts, and European decorative traditions.

Themes of desire, violence, and vulnerability feature frequently in his paintings and drawings, which are also concerned with maintaining a balanced relationship between a cacophony of colours, forms, patterns, and texts.

Craft and Decoration

Studying at CalArts in the 1970s, Pittman became familiar with the Feminist Art Program (FAP)—established in the previous year by Judy Chicago at Fresno State College—and such alternative music scenes as punk rock, which led him to explore more marginalised fields of the arts. In particular, Pittman engaged with craft and other decorative practices, which have historically been associated with feminine labour and thus removed from the male-oriented art world.

Pittman began to incorporate bold patterns and colours into paintings such as Maladies and Treatments (1983), which features patterns evocative of wallpaper on either side of the canvas and irregular shapes against a black background. Pink, purple, and orange dominate another painting titled Where the Soul Intact Will Shed Its Scabs (8624 A.D.) (1987–1988), in which the artist portrays a ghostly sailing ship, a row of staring eyes, and a ring of rubies arranged into a shape that recalls a Ferris wheel.

'Needy' Series

In the 1990s, Pittman created bodies of paintings responding to the AIDS crisis and culture wars. Among them is the 'Needy' series, which depicts multi-gendered beings through body parts, including bulbous forms resembling breasts and the human body cropped at the buttocks; the repetition of the number 69, denoting a sexual position; or an upturned owl as a symbol for rebellious unlearning.

Language

While known for working without sketches, Pittman prepares, in a sense, for new paintings by keeping a list of notes that prevent him from repeating himself. The artist also writes titles first, as he said in his 2019 interview with Art in America, to help determine imagery for each painting.

Pittman has also discussed the influence of his Colombian heritage in interviews, suggesting that the comparative abundance of hyperbole in the Spanish language has led him to choose 'hyper-romantic, hyperbolic titles' for his work.

Dioramas

Pittman continues to engage with the decorative in his paintings, while combining images drawn from across cultures and time periods. Dioramas, his 2021 solo exhibition at Lévy Gorvy, Paris, for example, included paintings of detailed jewellery against richly ornamented backgrounds evocative of Baroque still lifes. Each work, titled Diorama and numbered, also shows white bars on the lower half of the canvas—suggesting the same barriers found in museums and galleries to protect the artefacts.

Parts of the depicted jewellery are inscribed with years that reference key events in the history of the United States and France, from the Declaration of Independence in 1776 to the Liberation of Paris in 1944, each a period of violence and liberation that is presented alongside items of delicacy and beauty.

Exhibitions

Pittman's work has been presented in numerous solo and group exhibitions at major institutions and galleries.

Select solo exhibitions include Dioramas, Lévy Gorvy, Paris (2021); Found Buried, Lehmann Maupin, New York (2020); Lari Pittman: Declaration of Independence, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2019); Portraits of Textiles & Portraits of Humans, Regen Projects, Los Angeles (2018), Gerhardsen Gerner, Oslo (2017); Lari Pittman: Mood Books, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California (2016); Lari Pittman: Curiosities from a Late Western Impaerium, Gladstone Gallery, Brussels (2014).

Select group exhibitions include Invisible Sun, The Broad, Los Angeles (2021); Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2020); Less Is a Bore: Maximalist Art & Design, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2019); The Long Run, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2017); The Art of Our Time, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2015); America is Hard to See, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015).

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2022

Lari Pittman Featured Artworks

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Vanitas #1Pudong by Lari Pittman contemporary artwork painting, mixed media
Lari Pittman Vanitas #1Pudong, 2021 Cel-vinyl and lacquer spray over gessoed canvas on titanium and wood panel
203.2 x 243.8 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Diorama 1 by Lari Pittman contemporary artwork painting
Lari Pittman Diorama 1, 2021 Cel-Vinyl and lacquer spray paint on gessoed canvas over wood with titanium stretcher
203.2 x 243.8 x 5.1 cm
LGDR Enquire
Diorama 2 by Lari Pittman contemporary artwork painting
Lari Pittman Diorama 2, 2021 Cel-Vinyl and lacquer spray paint on gessoed canvas over wood with titanium stretcher
203.2 x 243.8 x 5.1 cm
LGDR Enquire
Diorama 3 by Lari Pittman contemporary artwork painting
Lari Pittman Diorama 3, 2021 Cel-Vinyl and lacquer spray paint on gessoed canvas over wood with titanium stretcher
203.2 x 243.8 x 5.1 cm
LGDR Enquire
Diorama 5 by Lari Pittman contemporary artwork painting
Lari Pittman Diorama 5, 2021 Cel-Vinyl and lacquer spray paint on gessoed canvas over wood with titanium stretcher
203.2 x 243.8 x 5.1 cm
LGDR Enquire
Vanitas #3  (Semper) by Lari Pittman contemporary artwork painting, mixed media
Lari Pittman Vanitas #3 (Semper), 2021 Cel-vinyl and lacquer spray over gessoed canvas on titanium and wood panel
142.2 x 188 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Found Buried #1 by Lari Pittman contemporary artwork painting
Lari Pittman Found Buried #1, 2020 Cel-vinyl and lacquer spray over gessoed canvas on titanium and wood panel
202.6 x 245.1 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Found Buried #3 by Lari Pittman contemporary artwork painting
Lari Pittman Found Buried #3, 2020 Cel-vinyl and lacquer spray over gessoed canvas on titanium and wood panel
202.6 x 245.1 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery

Lari Pittman Recent Exhibitions

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Lari Pittman Represented By

Lehmann Maupin contemporary art gallery in 536 West 22nd Street, New York, USA Lehmann Maupin Beijing, Hong Kong, London, New York, Seoul

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