Liam Gillick is an artist, curator, and theorist whose socially engaged practice is commonly associated with Relational Aesthetics. A 2002 Turner Prize Nominee, Gillick is also a faculty member at the Columbia University's School of Art in New York, a widely published writer, and a musician, actor, and art critic.Read More
Born in Aylesbury, England, Gillick attended Goldsmiths College in London, graduating with a BFA in 1987. In the early 1990s, he, along with Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas, became known in London as the Young British Artists (YBA's).
In 2002, Gillick had his first major solo exhibition, featuring wooden pieces and a life-size maze at Whitechapel Gallery in London.
Gillick's artwork incorporates sculpture, print, architecture, graphic design, film, and music to explore the conditions of production in a post-industrial environment. Labour, the economy, and questions of social organisation are central to his practice.
Gillick's first major exhibition, The Wood Way, refers to the evolving urban landscape recreated through a series of propositions about the built world offered as 20 panels made from Plexiglas and aluminium. Together, they formed a labyrinth in the lower gallery space, alluding to the constant negotiation, renovation, and change in our environments and its political ethics.
Named Think Tanks, Platforms and Screens, the structure reconfigured a familiar environment and introduced the opportunity to trigger events and social engagement. At the end of The Wood Way, the title alluding to being lost in the woods, two large cubes greet the viewer, returning them to the solidity and certainty of sculptural forms.
Gillick's work is commonly associated with Relational Aesthetics thanks to his inclusion in Nicholas Bourriaud's 1996 exhibition Traffic, which first introduced the term. Beyond sculpture and installation, Gillick's social-based practice includes collaborative projects, public commissions, publication, performance, and protest.
In 2010, Gillick composed a score for the film Beijing, made by his ex-wife, Sarah Morris. The same year, he and 27 previous Turner Prize nominees took part in a letter to the British Government protesting cuts to public funding for the arts. Gillick has also starred in 'Exhibition', a drama directed by Johanna Hogg, where he co-starred alongside The Slits guitarist Viv Albertine. He also collaborated with the band New Order in 2017, transforming the Manchester festival stage into an immersive experience.
In Gillick's practice, publication works in parallel to the artworks. In 1991, with co-publisher of Art Monthly Jack Wendler, Gillick founded G-W Press, a limited editions publishing company. An anthology of Gillick's writings titled Allbooks was published by Book Works in 2009.
In Industry and Intelligence: Contemporary Art Since 1820, published in 2016, Gillick tracks the history of contemporary art and offers a comprehensive genealogy with reference to social, political, and technological changes since 1820, and their influence on art-making today.
Gillick was commissioned by the British government to work on the Home Office building in 2002. The artist also worked on the Lufthansa Headquarters in Frankfurt in 2005. In 2017, Gillick was hired by the London Underground to design a map for the railway system. The artist was commissioned to design a series of posters for the London Underground Platform for Art programme and the Frieze Art Fair in 2018.
Gillick won the Paul Cassirer Award in Berlin, Germany in 1998. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2002, and the Vincent Award at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 2008. Today, Gillick's works are held in the collections of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Tate Modern in London, among others.
The artist's website can be found here.
Elaine YJ Zheng | Ocula | 2021