Ellen Gallagher

Biography of Ellen Gallagher

In a visual language that combines art, myths, nature, and history, the African-American artist Ellen Gallagher (born 1965 in Providence, US) develops complex works that shift between abstraction and figuration and comment on race and cultural identity. She works in a range of media including drawings, paintings, collages, and film. Gallagher studied at Oberlin College, Ohio, Studio 70, Fort Thomas, Kentucky, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and is an alumnus of Skowhegan, a residency program in Maine. In 2000, she was the recipient of the American Academy Award in Art and, in 2003, participated in the Venice Biennale. Her grid-like collages eXelento (2004) and DeLuxe (2005), featuring over sixty prints, are considered her most well-known works. Drawing from sources such as advertisement, science fiction, and pop culture, Gallagher manages to create a sense of grotesque alienation in her works. Eccentric techniques, in particular the use of beaten gold, tattoos, photo engravings, and spit-bites, allow her to create visually powerful works and trace African-American history in a defiant way. The artist has produced various series of lithographs and drawings, for example, the painstakingly created and delicately-abstract lithograph Untitled (1997), as well as Watery Ecstatic (2005), a series of works on paper featuring details washed out by the use of watercolor and ink that depict sea creatures and recall the time Gallagher spent on a scientific research vessel in 1986 studying pteropods, tiny water snails.

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