Laura Owens
Nov 10, 2017–Feb 4, 2018

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A painting of a boy and a dog by Laura Owens.

Laura Owens, Untitled, 2014. Ink, silkscreen ink, vinyl paint, acrylic, oil, pastel, paper, wood, solvent transfers, stickers, handmade paper, thread, board, and glue on linen and polyester, five parts: 138 1/8 x 106 ½ x 2 5/8 in. (350.8 x 270.5 x 6.7 cm) overall. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Jonathan Sobel  2014.281a-e. © Laura Owens

For more than twenty years, Los Angeles–based artist Laura Owens has pioneered an innovative—and at times controversial—approach to painting that has made her one of the most influential artists of her generation. Her bold and experimental work challenges traditional assumptions about figuration and abstraction, as well as the relationships among avant-garde art, craft, pop culture, and technology.

This mid-career survey, the most comprehensive of Owens’s work to-date, will feature approximately 60 paintings from the mid-1990s until today, as well as artist’s books made specifically for the show. The exhibition will highlight her significant strides over the past few years, showing how the early work sets the stage for gripping new paintings and installations.

Owens emerged on the Los Angeles art scene during the mid-nineties, at a time when many in the critical establishment viewed painting with suspicion. Her early canvases upended the traditions of painterly abstraction by incorporating goofy personal allusions, doodling, and common craft materials. These works often demonstrated her keen interest in how paintings function in a given room and used illusionistic techniques to extend the plane of a wall or floor directly into the space of her pictures. More recently, she has charted a dramatic transformation in her work, marshaling all of her previous interests and talents within large-scale paintings that make virtuosic use of silkscreen, computer manipulation, digital printing, and material exploration. The Whitney has a longstanding commitment to Owens, who has been featured in two Biennials, and is significantly represented in the Museum’s collection. 

This exhibition is organized by Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator.

Major support for Laura Owens is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Whitney’s National Committee.

Significant support is provided by Nancy and Steve Crown; Candy and Michael Barasch; The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston; Mariel and Jack Cayre; Marcia Dunn and Jonathan Sobel; and Erin and Peter Friedland.

Generous support is provided by Fotene Demoulas and Tom Coté, Allison and Warren Kanders, Ashley Leeds and Christopher Harland, and anonymous donors.

Additional support is provided by Rebecca and Martin Eisenberg, Susan and Leonard Feinstein, and the Nina and Frank Moore Family Foundation.

Generous endowment support is provided by Sueyun and Gene Locks, and Donna Perret Rosen and Benjamin M. Rosen.

Curatorial research and travel for this exhibition were funded by an endowment established by Rosina Lee Yue and Bert A. Lies, Jr., MD.


In the News

"Laura Owens Retrospective Coming to the Whitney"
The New York Times

"The Whitney Museum will offer New York audiences their first major chance to see the Los Angeles–based artist’s work with this long-overdue 60-work survey.”  
ARTNEWS

"What else can painting do? With wide-eyed curiosity, maverick humor, and infectious glee, Owens continues to pose this query, producing ambitious, technically rigorous, and surprising pieces unlike those of any other painter of her generation (or the next).” 
ARTFORUM