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(1955 – 2017), USA

Tim Rollins and K.O.S. Biography

Tim Rollins (b. 1955, Pittsfield, ME; d. 2017, New York, NY) began his career teaching art for special education middle school students in a South Bronx public school. In 1984, he launched the Art and Knowledge Workshop, an after school program for his most dedicated students, who named themselves Kids of Survival (K.O.S.). While many of the original K.O.S. members are actively involved in the collaboration today, Rollins intended for flexibility within the group to allow for new generations of members. Rollins’ pedagogical technique of reading and discussing literary texts as the inspiration for his students’ artwork continues to be the basis on which the group makes their collaborative work. Rollins and K.O.S. often paint and draw directly on the pages of books or sheet music that they adhere in a grid to the surface of the canvas. They have used numerous works as source materials, including literary classics by William Shakespeare, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mark Twain, and musical compositions by Felix Mendelssohn and Richard Strauss. For their 2013 show with Lehmann Maupin, the group exhibited Darkwater, using the pages of a 1920 first-edition copy of W.E.B. Dubois’ eponymous autobiographical collection of essays and short stories that confronted issues of race, class, and gender. Rollins and K.O.S. dipped 24 pages from the book in a solution of black watercolour paint, rendering the bottom half of every page illegible. The Darkwater series was made in collaboration with junior high school students in Savannah, Georgia, during a week-long workshop. Just as he had done with the original Kids of Survival, Rollins encouraged the students to engage with some of the very complex issues discussed in Dubois’ book through the process of art making, demonstrating the collective’s continued dedication to collaboration, social engagement, and education.

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Rollins studied fine art at the University of Maine and earned a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Solo exhibitions of the group’s work have been organised at the Portland Museum of Art, ME (2016); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2014); Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel (2012); Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo, Italy (2011); the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA (2010); Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA (2010); Museum of Contemporary Art, Atlanta, GA (2006); The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, VA (2005); the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2002); and the Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA (2001). Select group exhibitions featuring the work of Rollins and K.O.S. include Black and Blue, Pulitzer Foundation, St. Louis, MO (2017); Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017); Nightfall, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva, Switzerland (2016–2017); Beyond the Veil: Works from the Permanent Collection, Bronx Museum, New York (2016); An Inclusive World, Queens Museum, New York (2015); Drawing Biennial 2015, Drawing Room, London (2015); Body Language, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2013); This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, IL (2012); Wide Open School, Hayward Gallery, London (2012); and the Whitney Biennial, New York (2006). The group’s work is in numerous international public and private collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Tate Modern, London; Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; Art Institute of Chicago; Aspen Art Museum, CO; Berkeley Art Museum, University of California Berkeley; The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Dia Art Foundation, New York; The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; and Dallas Museum of Art, TX.

In 1997, the documentary, Kids of Survival: The Art and Life of Tim Rollins and K.O.S. was widely received at the London Film Festival; Cinéma du Réel, France; and the Hamptons International Film Festival, New York.

Text courtesy Lehmann Maupin.

Tim Rollins and K.O.S. Featured Artworks

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Metamorphosen (after Richard Strauss) #4 by Tim Rollins and K.O.S. contemporary artwork
Tim Rollins and K.O.S.Metamorphosen (after Richard Strauss) #4, 2008India ink on sheet music
35.6 x 27.9 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Alice by Tim Rollins and K.O.S. contemporary artwork
Tim Rollins and K.O.S.Alice, 2014Matte acrylic on book pages on canvas
122 x 182.8 cm
Galerie Chantal Crousel Contact Gallery
Invisible Man (after Ralph Ellison) by Tim Rollins and K.O.S. contemporary artwork
Tim Rollins and K.O.S.Invisible Man (after Ralph Ellison), 2014Matte acrylic and pencil on book pages on wood panel
91.4 x 91.4 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
Amerika - For Karl by Tim Rollins and K.O.S. contemporary artwork
Tim Rollins and K.O.S.Amerika - For Karl, 1989Watercolour on paper mounted on canvas
246.4 x 335.3 cm
Lehmann Maupin Contact Gallery
ANIMAL FARM - PUTIN (after Orwell) by Tim Rollins and K.O.S. contemporary artwork
Tim Rollins and K.O.S.ANIMAL FARM - PUTIN (after Orwell), 2017Acrylic and watercolour on book pages on linen
66 x 50.8 cm
Maureen Paley
The Time Machine (after H.G. Wells) by Tim Rollins and K.O.S. contemporary artwork
Tim Rollins and K.O.S.The Time Machine (after H.G. Wells), 2013Wood bench
107 x 99 x 45.6 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
On the Origin of Species – Variation I (after Darwin) by Tim Rollins and K.O.S. contemporary artwork
Tim Rollins and K.O.S.On the Origin of Species – Variation I (after Darwin), 2013Ink, matte acrylic, book pages on canvas
182.9 x 366.5 x 4 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery

Tim Rollins and K.O.S. Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, DEMAIN EST LA QUESTION at Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
Closed
27 June–25 July 2020 Group Exhibition DEMAIN EST LA QUESTION Galerie Chantal CrouselParis
Contemporary art exhibition, Tim Rollins and K.O.S., Workshop at Lehmann Maupin, New York
Closed
18 April–15 June 2019 Tim Rollins and K.O.S. Workshop Lehmann Maupin536 West 22nd Street, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, American Landscape at Lehmann Maupin, New York
Closed
15 March–5 May 2018 Group Exhibition American Landscape Lehmann Maupin536 West 22nd Street, New York

Tim Rollins and K.O.S. Represented By

Galerie Eva Presenhuber contemporary art gallery in Maag Areal, Zürich, Switzerland Galerie Eva Presenhuber Zurich, New York
Lehmann Maupin contemporary art gallery in 536 West 22nd Street, New York, USA Lehmann Maupin New York, Hong Kong, Seoul
Maureen Paley contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Maureen Paley London, Hove
Xavier Hufkens contemporary art gallery in 6 rue St-Georges, Brussels, Belgium Xavier Hufkens Brussels

Tim Rollins and K.O.S. In Related Press

Making the Transformative Power of Words Concrete Related Press Making the Transformative Power of Words Concrete 3 July 2018, Hyperallergic

There is something utterly majestic about block letters — even more so at a staggering height of 12 feet. Such is the case of the letters 'IM' in the painting "Invisible Man (after Ralph Ellison)" (2008) by Tim Rollins & K.O.S.

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Beauty and Disunity in Two Visions of the United States Related Press Beauty and Disunity in Two Visions of the United States 20 April 2018, Hyperallergic

A nation is a strange, abstracted construction: an aggregate of people, most of whom will never meet each other, who are nevertheless understood to be fellow citizens — that is, collaborators in some shared political project. American Landscape, on view at Lehmann Maupin gallery until May 5, presents two contradictory visions of the United...

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Artist and activist Tim Rollins dies aged 62 Related Press Artist and activist Tim Rollins dies aged 62 28 December 2017, The Art Newspaper

The US artist and activist Tim Rollins, known for launching the Art and Knowledge education workshop in the Bronx in 1982, has died aged 62. Pittsfield-born Rollins began his career as the assistant of the artist Joseph Kosuth, earning a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1980. His work with students—some of them with...

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