Jessica Stockholder

Jessica Stockholder was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1959. She studied painting at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and received an MFA from Yale University. Stockholder is a pioneer of multimedia genre-bending installations that have become a prominent language in contemporary art. Her site-specific interventions and autonomous floor and wall pieces have been described as “paintings in space.” Stockholder’s complex installations incorporate the architecture in which they have been conceived, blanketing the floor, scaling walls and ceiling, and even spilling out of windows, through doors, and into the surrounding landscape.

Her work is energetic, cacophonous, and idiosyncratic, but close observation reveals formal decisions about color and composition, and a tempering of chaos with control. In a single work, Stockholder deploys a myriad of materials that might include bales of hay, fruit, toys, laundry baskets, curtains, heat lamps, fans, yarn, newspaper, bowling balls, automobiles, and construction materials: bricks, concrete, plywood, and sheetrock.

To the vibrantly colorful plastic products of consumer culture, she adds painted areas of bright hues, calibrating each color for maximum optical and spatial impact. Stockholder’s installations, sculptures, and collages affirm the primacy of pleasure, the blunt reality of things, and the rich heterogeneity of life, mind, and art amid a vortex of shifting polarities—abstraction/realism, classical order/intuitive expressionism, conscious thought/unconscious desire.

Jessica Stockholder’s work has been exhibited at Dia Center for the Arts, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City; SITE Santa Fe; the Venice Biennale; Kunstmuseum St. Gallen; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; among others.

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Interests and Influences

Jessica Stockholder discusses her work’s relation to play, fun, and Abstract Expressionism.


Pleasure, Politics, and Beauty

In this interview, Jessica Stockholder talks about her ideas of beauty and abstraction in relation to formalist aesthetics.