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b. 1944, United Kingdom

Phyllida Barlow Biography

Employing cheap and household materials such as cardboard, paper, scrim, fabric, and polystyrene, Phyllida Barlow creates often large-scale sculptures and installations that explore the relationship between objects and their surrounding space.

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Though active since the 1960s, Phyllida Barlow was previously better known as a teacher than an artist. She taught at the Slade School of Art, her alma mater, for more than 40 years until retiring in 2009. Aged 63, Barlow began to gain prominence when she won the Paul Hamlyn award. In 2010, she held solo and group exhibitions at Studio Voltaire and Serpentine Gallery, London, and began to be represented by Hauser & Wirth.

Barlow's late ascension in the art world has been attributed to sexism as well as socioeconomic factors. In 2017, The Guardian wrote—drawing from conversations with the artist, artistic directors and curators—that her earlier sculptures were not collected in part due to her gender and also the comparative lack of well-established commercial galleries in postwar London. Because of their size and lack of space, many of her works were discarded after being exhibited. With the recent trend in the art world to excavate overlooked women artists, Barlow has begun to receive increased recognition.

Phyllida Barlow engages with inexpensive and often lightweight materials in processes of 'expedient' transformation that include breaking, cutting, folding, wrapping, painting, covering, and coiling. Her monumental sculptures confront their architectural environment, rather than complementing it, as exemplified in Phyllida Barlow: dock (2014), for which the artist suspended, stacked, erected, and wall-mounted seven constructions throughout the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain, London.

Representing Britain at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017), Barlow installed sculptures with rough textures and industrial colours in the national pavilion's rooms. Titled folly, the presentation included columns with openings on one side that revealed the humble origins of their materials despite their monumental appearance. In an interview with British Council Arts, the artist described the latter as a way of coming out of the building, '[spilling] its guts in some way'.

During the 2020 lockdown in London, Phyllida Barlow turned to smaller scale works that were exhibited in small worlds, her first solo show with Hauser & Wirth Zurich in 2021. In an interview with Frieze's editor-at-large Jennifer Higgie, the artist said, 'I wanted to be as close to the work as I possibly could'. The new works, presented on similar small plinths or on the wall, reflect this sense of intimacy by demanding the viewer to come closer.

Phyllida Barlow has been internationally recognised for her contributions to contemporary art, including her election as a Royal Academician (2011) and winning the Aachen Art Prize (2012) and Mari Anton & Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven Art Prize for Women Artists (2019). In 2016, she was nominated for The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture. Phyllida Barlow: frontier, a major retrospective of the artist's work, is due to open at Haus der Kunst, Munich, in May 2021.

Phyllida Barlow Solo Exhibitions include:

small worlds, Hauser & Wirth, Zurich (2021); tilt, Hauser & Wirth, New York (2018); Artist Rooms: Phyllida Barlow, Turner Contemporary, Margate, U.K. (2017); demo, Kunsthalle Zurich (2016); Phyllida Barlow: set, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2015); siege, New Museum, New York (2012).

Phyllida Barlow Group Exhibitions include:

Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2021); Crossroads: Carnegie Museum of Art's Collection, 1945 to Now, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2018); Spacemakers and roomshakers, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2018); Versus Rodin: Bodies Across Space and time, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2017).

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021

Exhibition view: Phyllida Barlow, small worlds, Hauser & Wirth, Zürich (online from 6 February–14 May 2021). © Phyllida Barlow. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

Phyllida Barlow Featured Artworks

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Untitled by Phyllida Barlow contemporary artwork
Phyllida BarlowUntitled, 1999-2000Mixed media on paper
29 x 41 cm
Offer Waterman Contact Gallery
untitled: pointerbreasts; 2020 (object for a cabinet drawer) lockdown 13 by Phyllida Barlow contemporary artwork
Phyllida Barlowuntitled: pointerbreasts; 2020 (object for a cabinet drawer) lockdown 13, 2020Polystyrene, plaster, sand, plywood, PVA
100 x 46 x 59.5 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
untitled: holebreasts; 2020 lockdown 12 by Phyllida Barlow contemporary artwork
Phyllida Barlowuntitled: holebreasts; 2020 lockdown 12, 2020Polystyrene, plaster, sand, plywood, PVA
97.6 x 44 x 60.7 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
untitled: badplace; 2020 lockdown 4 by Phyllida Barlow contemporary artwork
Phyllida Barlowuntitled: badplace; 2020 lockdown 4, 2020Plywood, wire netting, PV foam, scrim, PVA, plaster cement, paint, steel
172.3 x 82 x 75.5 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
untitled: redfleshtowers; 2020 lockdown 7 by Phyllida Barlow contemporary artwork
Phyllida Barlowuntitled: redfleshtowers; 2020 lockdown 7, 2020Plywood, plaster, scrim, paint, PVA, steel
166.1 x 52.1 x 52.1 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
untitled: floor vi; 2017 by Phyllida Barlow contemporary artwork
Phyllida Barlowuntitled: floor vi; 2017, 2017Collage with acrylic on paper
59.3 x 70 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
untitled by Phyllida Barlow contemporary artwork
Phyllida Barlowuntitled, c. 1980–1990Acrylic on paper
38.2 x 56.1 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
Untitled: Copse; 2017 by Phyllida Barlow contemporary artwork
Phyllida BarlowUntitled: Copse; 2017, 2017Acrylic on paper
57 x 76.5 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery

Phyllida Barlow Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Phyllida Barlow, small worlds at Hauser & Wirth, Zürich, Zurich
Open Now
6 February–14 May 2021 Phyllida Barlow small worlds Hauser & WirthZürich
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Seeing Touch at Hauser & Wirth, St. Moritz
Closed
26 September–15 November 2020 Group Exhibition Seeing Touch Hauser & WirthSt. Moritz
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Stronger Than Language at Hauser & Wirth, St. Moritz
Closed
11 June–5 July 2020 Group Exhibition Stronger Than Language Hauser & WirthSt. Moritz

Phyllida Barlow Represented By

Hauser & Wirth contemporary art gallery in Hong Kong Hauser & Wirth New York, Hong Kong, Zurich, London, Los Angeles, Somerset, Gstaad, St. Moritz

Phyllida Barlow In Ocula Magazine

Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui By Tendai John Mutambu and Qinxin Gao, London

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset...

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Phyllida Barlow In Related Press

Phyllida Barlow has us on the edge at the Royal Academy Related Press Phyllida Barlow has us on the edge at the Royal Academy 24 February 2019, Wallpaper*

There is palpable momentum behind the sculptural force that is Phyllida Barlow. Her latest operatic aria for the Royal Academy, fulfils every expectation of the acclaimed British sculptor: master of paradox, connoisseur of materiality and astute interrogator of space.

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Edinburgh Art Festival: from laments for Syria to close-up magic Related Press Edinburgh Art Festival: from laments for Syria to close-up magic 6 August 2018, iNews

August: the month Edinburgh is aflame with comedians and spoken word performers vying to out-taboo one another. Amid such faux courage comes a reminder of the real danger of speaking freely: in the cause of love and beauty as well as politics.

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Phyllida Barlow In Video & Audio

Phyllida Barlow: tilt Related Video & Audio Phyllida Barlow: tilt 21 November 2018, Hauser & Wirth

‘I wanted to refresh completely my attitude to sculpture.’ Phyllida Barlow discusses her exhibition tilt at Hauser & Wirth New York, 22 nd Street, and how it marks a new stage in her practice. For more than fifty years, the British artist has created sculptures and large-scale installations using a direct and intuitive process of making....

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