Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze with glasses pushed on top of her head, smiling looking out at the camera.

Sarah Sze was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1969. Sze builds her installations and intricate sculptures from the minutiae of everyday life, imbuing mundane materials, marks, and processes with surprising significance. Combining domestic detritus and office supplies into fantastical miniatures, she builds her works, fractal-like, on an architectural scale.

Often incorporating electric lights and fans, water systems, and houseplants, Sze’s installations balance whimsy with ecological themes of interconnectivity and sustainability. Whether adapting to a venue or altering the urban fabric, Sze’s patchwork compositions seem to mirror the improvisational quality of cities, labor, and everyday life. On the edge between life and art, her work is alive with a mutable quality—as if anything could happen, or not.

Sarah Sze received a BA from Yale University (1991) and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts (1997). She has received many awards, including a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship (2005); John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2003); Louis Comfort Tiffany Award (1999); and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Award (1997). Major exhibitions of her work have appeared at the Asia Society Museum, New York (2011); 10th Biennale de Lyon (2010); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (2009); Malmö Konsthall (2006); Whitney Museum of Amerian Art (2003); Walker Art Center (2002); São Paulo Bienal (2002); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1999), and Foundation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (1999), the Carnegie International (1999), and the 48th Venice Biennale (1999). Sarah Sze lives and works in New York City.

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Teaching with Contemporary Art

Teaching with the Great Outdoors

Art21 senior education advisor Joe Fusaro collects seven Art21 films showing artists who find ways to work in—or work for—the benefit of the great outdoors.

Teaching with Contemporary Art

"Yes, and…": How Artists Are Using Improvisation and Spontaneity in Their Work

Art21 Educator Erica Richard inspires letting go and incorporating spontaneity into practices through a playlist of Art21 films.


Studio as Laboratory

Addressing questions of how objects acquire value, Sarah Sze posits that being an artist is about giving yourself permission to make choices.


“Blueprint for a Landscape”

Artist Sarah Sze shares the process behind her immersive installation Blueprint for a Landscape (2016) at the Second Avenue Subway’s 96th Street station. This text is excerpted from an interview conducted with the artist in February 2016, just prior to the installation of the work.


“…Ten minutes of observation is an incredibly long time for a person. And this idea of slowing down and really observing, I think it’s a really interesting idea also for visual art.”

Sarah Sze