Theaster Gates, Chicago’s Star of Social Practice Art, Is Joining Gagosian Gallery

The artist hasn't had representation in New York until now.

Theaster Gates. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Social practice artist and community organizer Theaster Gates has joined mega-gallery Gagosian—his first dealer in New York ever. The Chicago native, who is known for his work aimed at revitalizing the city’s South Side through his Rebuild Foundation nonprofit, also shows with Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago, Los Angeles’s Regen Projects, and White Cube of London and Hong Kong.

“In a single decade, Gates has incubated compelling new models for legacy building, social transformation, and making art,” Gagosian Gallery said in its announcement. It promises to “support the realization of exhibitions and projects across the full scope of his praxis in the context of broader intergenerational and intercultural dialogues in today’s global art scene.”

Gates rose to prominence largely after his 2010 contribution Whitney Biennial, an outdoor gathering place he made out of wooden boards. Shows followed in 2011 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Arts Club London, and the Seattle Art Museum, with appearances at documenta in 2012 and the 2015 Venice Biennale.

Gates’s work includes sculpture, painting, ceramics, video, performance, and music, with a focus on urban renewal projects that celebrate and preserve African American history. Since 2006, Gates has purchased derelict properties in Chicago, transforming them into arts spaces with public programming and artist residencies.

Earlier this year, Gates exhibited at Dallas’s Nasher Sculpture Center as the 2018 Nasher Prize Laureate and he currently has a solo show at the Fondazione Prada in Milan, “The Black Image Corporation,” showcasing the photographic archive of the Johnson Publishing Company. Based in Chicago and once the largest African American-owned publishing company in the US—its magazines include Jet and Ebony—Johnson Publishing gifted much of its archive to the Rebuild Foundation.

Gates, who is curating the AIDS charity (RED) Auction during next week’s Art Basel in Miami Beach, will have his first show at Gagosian New York in the spring of 2020.

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