press release

This fall, the New Museum presents the first New York survey exhibition of the work of Jim Shaw (b. 1952). Over the past thirty years, Shaw has become one of the United States' most influential and visionary artists, moving between painting, sculpture, and drawing, with works that build connections between his own psyche and America's larger political, social, and spiritual histories. Shaw mines his imagery from the cultural refuse of the twentieth century, using comic books, record covers, conspiracy magazines, and obscure religious iconography to produce a portrait of the nation's subconscious. Although a recognized icon of the Los Angeles art scene since the 1970s, Shaw has never had a comprehensive museum show in New York. This exhibition, which encompasses three floors of the New Museum, reveals the breadth and inventiveness of his art. A comprehensive selection of his works is presented alongside objects from his collections of vernacular art and religious didactic materials.

Jim Shaw: The End is Here is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Artistic Director, and Gary Carrion-Murayari, Kraus Family Curator, with Margot Norton, Associate Curator. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with contributions by Natalie Bell, Gary Carrion-Murayari, Massimiliano Gioni, Dan Nadel, Tony Oursler, Janet Sarbanes, Peter Saul, Marc-Olivier Wahler, and John C. Welchman.

Shaw's work is inspired by his childhood in suburban Michigan, his adopted home of Los Angeles where he has lived for over thirty years, and the dark and sprawling underbelly of America as a whole. Along with fellow Michigan native Mike Kelley, Shaw moved to California in the 1970s to attend CalArts and was one of a number of notable artists to emerge from the school in the late 1970s and early '80s. His work is distinguished by rigorous formal and structural analyses of neglected forms of vernacular culture, informed by his large collections of objects representative of consumer desires, religious fervor, and a constantly evolving counterculture. For Shaw, these seemingly mundane artifacts reflect shifting social and political values and the way in which individual Americans are the product of a variety of conflicting forces.

The End is Here presents some of Shaw's most iconic projects, including early airbrush drawings; large selections from his series "Dream Drawings" (1992–99), "Dream Objects" (1994–present), and the sprawling "My Mirage" (1985–91); and Labyrinth: I Dreamt I was Taller than Jonathan Borofsky (2009), a large-scale, immersive installation of sculptures and painted theatrical backdrops. These instantly recognizable works and series—which succeed in reinvigorating and complicating traditional categories like portraiture, history painting, figuration, and abstraction—have never before been brought together in a single exhibition. This survey also includes a presentation of his collection of thrift store paintings, originally shown in New York in 1991, as well as his ongoing collection of religious and pedagogical materials. Presented under the title "The Hidden World," this diverse assortment of pamphlets, posters, banners, and other ephemera catalogs the spiritual exhortations and admonishments of a constantly expanding pantheon of homegrown prophets and visionaries. These two collections demonstrate Shaw's unique insight into the spiritual and aesthetic histories of America and the ways in which the obscure, personal expressions he has collected have informed his own unique artworks. As part of his process, Shaw consistently relies upon in-depth historical research, the exploration of his own personal experience and subconscious, and the creation of fictitious histories and characters. The combination of these strategies results in a powerful evocation of the themes of belief, madness, materialism, and war, as they continue to influence contemporary life.

Public programs Jim Shaw in conversation with Massimiliano Gioni Saturday, October 10, 3pm

"Outside the Box" gallery talks: Naomi Fisher on Jim Shaw Thursday, October 29, 3:30pm

"Heed, Dream, Hyper-Connect: Jim Shaw's Speculative Irrealism," a lecture by John C. Welchman Sunday, November 8, 3pm

"Outside the Box" gallery talks: Dan Nadel on Jim Shaw Thursday, November 12, 3:30pm

Panel: "Truth Seekers and Hidden Worlds" Sunday, November 15, 3pm

"Outside the Box" gallery talks: John Miller on Jim Shaw Thursday, December 3, 3:30pm

"Outside the Box" gallery talks: Bartholomew Ryan on Jim Shaw Thursday, January 7, 3:30pm

About Jim Shaw Jim Shaw was born in 1952 in Midland, Michigan, and lives and works in Los Angeles. He received a BFA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1974 and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 1978. Shaw has had major solo exhibitions at the Chalet Society, Paris (2014); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, England (2012); the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2012); CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux, France (2010); P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York (2007); and Casino Luxembourg—Forum d'art contemporain, Luxembourg (1999). His work has been featured in a number of important international group exhibitions, including The Encyclopedic Palace: 55th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale (2013); Sunshine & Noir: Art in L.A., 1990–1997, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (1997); Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s, LA MOCA (1992); and the 1991 and 2002 Whitney Biennials; among others.

Support Lead support for Jim Shaw: The End is Here is provided by: Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Eugenio López

Major support is provided by: Jill and Peter Kraus National Endowment for the Arts Ringier Collection

Additional support is provided by The Foundation, To-Life, Inc. and the Robert Lehman Foundation.

Special thanks to Metro Pictures, Blum & Poe, and Simon Lee Gallery.

The accompanying catalogue, published by Skira Rizzoli, is made possible by the J. McSweeney and G. Mills Publications Fund at the New Museum.

Media partner: artnet