Up Next: The Rising Art World Star Behind ‘Black Dada’
Name Adam Pendleton
Hometown Richmond, Va.
Now Lives In Brooklyn, where he shares a brownstone apartment with his husband, Karsten Ch’ien, and works in a tranquil studio in Sunset Park.
Claim to Fame Mr. Pendleton is an artist and rising art world star whose work has been included in the Venice Biennale and acquired by the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim and the Tate Modern. “I moved to New York to be an artist when I was 18,” he said. “I always say to people that I went to art school in public.”
Big Break Frustrated creatively in Brooklyn, Mr. Pendleton decamped to Germantown, N.Y., in the Hudson Valley in 2007 to live and work. “I began thinking very deeply about what it meant to create space for yourself as an artist from an art historical standpoint,” he said. “But also, what ideas can you contribute to the world as an artist that matter.” Out of that fertile time came his Black Dada paintings — large, monochromatic, abstract-seeming diptychs that incorporate type. He described Black Dada as “a way of articulating a broad conceptualization of blackness.” The paintings went on view at the New Museum, and one of them was acquired by MoMA.
Latest Projects Mr. Pendleton is finishing up “Black Dada Reader,” a book that incorporates essays by curators, as well as text from W. E. B. Dubois, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and others and will be published this fall by Walther Koenig Books. He is also working on a commission from MoMA to delve into the archive of Avalanche, the art magazine from the 1970s. The commission will result in a wall work, immersive floor to ceiling pieces, based on collages. In his studio, he has begun a new series of large-scale “wall” paintings using spray paint.
On Display Mr. Pendleton has three solo museum exhibitions this spring — at MOCA Cleveland until May 14; at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin until May 14; and at the Baltimore Museum of Art through Oct. 1. The show in Baltimore is an exhibition of new work that responds to recent political events, and race in America in 2017.
Copy That As someone whose Saturday night out in high school was a trip to Borders, Mr. Pendleton finds two things indispensable to his work: books and his old Sharp copy machine. He can buy 10 to 15 books a week, he said, and when he comes across an image or a passage that inspires him, he copies it. “I’m hoping it never breaks down,” he said of the machine, which he calls the “queen of the studio.” He laughed. “I’m also hoping they don’t stop making the toner.”
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