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b. 1969, USA

Liza Lou Biography

Liza Lou's artistic practice is based in repetition, formal materiality and social consciousness. She currently divides her time between her studios in Los Angeles and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Throughout her practice Lou has consistently produced intricate and complex beadwork installations and hangings. Using mundane or dark subject matter, Lou speaks to systems of labour, beauty and human endurance.

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Lou was first brought to public attention with her installation, Kitchen (1991-96) when it was shown at the New Museum in New York. Over the five years preceding its exhibition, she created the entire installation by herself. Slowly and laboriously over the course of half a decade, Lou presented a suburban kitchen in all its aspects—its many appliances, furniture and objects, as well as the dirty dishes in the sink—covered in small glass beads. In Kitchen Lou constructed a monument to women's work both in subject matter and process. She developed acute tendinitis in her hands from applying each bead with tweezers. The artwork has since been acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art.

After Kitchen, with the support of the Whitney Museum of American Art's acquisition of the work, Lou began creating Backyard (1996-99). Backyard is another fully beaded scene, this time of a suburban lawn. It includes objects such as a picnic table, clothesline, tree and grass (250 000 individually beaded blades). Not much later, Lou began working on Trailer (1998-2000)—a mobile home whose interior is covered with black, white and silver beads. The beaded interior objects include a sofa, typewriter and coffee table with magazines. Since Kitchen, Lou's colour palette and gesture has become increasingly minimalist. She has moved to focusing on the subtle details of difference between the beads themselves as objects and subject matter.

The only deviation from Lou's beaded path appeared in a performance called Born Again, in which she reenacts her troubled childhood within her bohemian-turned-born-again Christian family and at the hands of her abusive father. In 2005 Lou moved to KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Soon after, she opened a studio there, where she works with traditional Zulu beadworkers. In KwaZulu-Natal, Lou created Security Fence (2005)—an impenetrable chain-link and razor wire enclosure beaded in silver. She also conceived of and constructed Barricade (2007-8)—a gate beaded in 24-karat gold. Both sculptures reflect Lou's experiences in South Africa; they are structures of containment and protection, but they end up as beautiful and alluring objects that support neither goal. Both works were made with the assistance of the Zulu beadworkers. Lou worked alongside these artists and in the process began to reframe her work in the context of traditional and social practice.

Lou was a 2002 MacArthur Fellow. She received the 2013 Anonymous Was A Woman Award, and has held solo exhibitions at Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona; Aspen Art Museum, Colorado; and Neuberger Museum of Art, New York. She has participated in exhibitions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She has also exhibited at the Lyon Biennale, France; and Taipei Biennial, Taiwan, amongst others.

Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2018

Liza Lou Featured Artworks

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Desire Lines by Liza Lou contemporary artwork
Liza LouDesire Lines, 2019Woven glass beads and thread on canvas
142.9 x 284.5 x 5.1 cm
Lehmann Maupin Enquire about this work
Unminding Cloud by Liza Lou contemporary artwork
Liza LouUnminding Cloud, 2019Oil paint on woven glass beads and thread on canvas
181.3 x 214.9 x 5.1 cm
Lehmann Maupin Enquire about this work
Sunday Morning by Liza Lou contemporary artwork
Liza LouSunday Morning, 2019Oil paint on woven glass beads and thread on canvas
180.3 x 320 x 5.1 cm
Lehmann Maupin Enquire about this work
Lichenform III by Liza Lou contemporary artwork
Liza LouLichenform III, 2018Glass beads, thread, and epoxy resin on stainless steel
69.9 x 71.1 x 11.4 cm
Lehmann Maupin Enquire about this work
Aggregate: Primary by Liza Lou contemporary artwork
Liza LouAggregate: Primary, 2018Glass beads, thread, and epoxy resin
57.2 x 34.3 x 29.2 cm
Lehmann Maupin Enquire about this work
Terra | Cloud by Liza Lou contemporary artwork
Liza LouTerra | Cloud, 2018Glass beads, thread, and epoxy resin on stainless steel
77.5 x 77.5 x 11.4 cm (incl frame)
Lehmann Maupin Enquire about this work
Drawing Instrument by Liza Lou contemporary artwork
Liza LouDrawing Instrument, 2018Single-channel video projection, colour, sound, 6 mins 17 secs
Lehmann Maupin Enquire about this work
The Clouds by Liza Lou contemporary artwork
Liza LouThe Clouds, 2015–2018Site-specific installation of oil paint on woven glass beads and thread on canvas
558.8 x 1336 x 7.6 cm
Lehmann Maupin Enquire about this work

Liza Lou Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Patterns II at Anne Mosseri-Marlio Galerie, Basel
Closed
2 April–27 June 2020 Group Exhibition Patterns II Anne Mosseri-Marlio GalerieBasel
Contemporary art exhibition, Liza Lou, The River and the Raft at Lehmann Maupin, Seoul
Closed
26 September–9 November 2019 Liza Lou The River and the Raft Lehmann MaupinSeoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Liza Lou, Classification and Nomenclature of Clouds at Lehmann Maupin, New York
Closed
6 September–27 October 2018 Liza Lou Classification and Nomenclature of Clouds Lehmann Maupin501 West 24th Street, New York

Liza Lou Represented By

Goodman Gallery contemporary art gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, Cape Town, London
Lehmann Maupin contemporary art gallery in Hong Kong Lehmann Maupin New York, Hong Kong, Seoul

Liza Lou In Ocula Magazine

New York Autumn Exhibitions: The Lowdown Ocula Report New York Autumn Exhibitions: The Lowdown By Jareh Das, New York

The autumn exhibition season has officially kicked off in New York, with countless solo and group exhibitions featuring emerging, mid-career, and established artists, with some exhibiting works in the US for the first time. With a host of exhibitions to choose from, including a series of stellar museum exhibitions whose runs are nearing...

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Liza Lou In Related Press

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Celebrating Outstanding Glass Artists Who Happen to Be Women Related Press Celebrating Outstanding Glass Artists Who Happen to Be Women 8 January 2018, Hyperallergic

Toledo, Ohio — Whenever I encounter a museum exhibition that frames itself as presenting exclusively female artists, I have to run through the same internal debate about emphasizing artists' gender. I recognize the necessity of making a conscious effort to include or exclusively feature female artists — or any other broad swath of the...

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One artist's surprising, powerful new subject, 1000 dishcloths Related Press One artist's surprising, powerful new subject, 1000 dishcloths 12 May 2016, The New York TImes

In 1996, Liza Lou unveiled The Kitchen  — a lifesize suburban kitchen rendered entirely in beads. The piece, which included a box of glittering Frosted Flakes and a cherry pie that gleamed like the crown jewels, took the artist five years to make. Soon followed Backyard, a vast suburban lawn, beaded down to the blades of grass. Since...

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One Artist’s Surprising, Powerful New Subject: 1,000 Dishcloths Related Press One Artist’s Surprising, Powerful New Subject: 1,000 Dishcloths 12 May 2016, The New York Times

In 1996, Liza Lou unveiled The Kitchen — a lifesize suburban kitchen rendered entirely in beads. The piece, which included a box of glittering Frosted Flakes and a cherry pie that gleamed like the crown jewels, took the artist five years to make. Soon followed Backyard, a vast suburban lawn, beaded down to the blades of grass. Since then...

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Liza Lou’s Handmade Sea of Sparkling Glass Related Press Liza Lou’s Handmade Sea of Sparkling Glass 2 January 2016, The New York Times

For those who wear glasses, the artist Liza Lou suggests taking them off when viewing her newest work, Color Field. The site-specific installation, a monumental, iridescent grid of colors, is part of the exhibition Liza Lou: Color Field and Solid Grey at the Neuberger Museum of Art. Color Field blankets most of the floor of the Theater...

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