Allan McCollum (born 1944, Los Angeles)
Over the past 50 years, Allan McCollum has explored how objects achieve public and personal meaning in a world caught up in the contradictions we make between unique handmade artworks and objects of mass production, focusing recently on collaborations with regional communities and historical societies in different parts of the world. In 2005, he designed The Shapes Project, a system to produce “a completely unique shape for every person on the planet, without repeating.”
His first solo exhibition was in 1970 in Southern California, where he was represented throughout the early 70s in Los Angeles by the Nicholas Wilder Gallery, until its closing in the late 70s, and subsequently by the Claire S. Copley Gallery, also in Los Angeles. After appearing in group exhibitions at the Pasadena Art Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, his first New York showing was at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1972. He was included in the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial Exhibition in 1975, and moved to New York later that year.
In 1978 He became known for his series Surrogate Paintings, which were shown in solo exhibitions in New York at Julian Pretto & Co., Artists Space, and 112 Workshop (subsequently known as White Columns), in 1979. In 1980, he was given his first solo exhibition in Europe, at the Yvon Lambert Gallery, in Paris, France, and in that same year began exhibiting his work at the Marian Goodman Gallery in New York, where he introduced his series Plaster Surrogates in a large solo exhibition in 1983. McCollum began showing his work with the Lisson Gallery in London, England, in 1985, where he has had a number of solo exhibitions since. In 1987 he joined the John Weber Gallery in New York, where he continued to show his work until 1996; subsequently, he began working with Petzel Gallery, also in New York.
Solo retrospectives of Allan McCollum’s work have been mounted at ICA Miami (2020); Mary Boone Gallery, New York (2017); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2015); Michele Didier Gallery, Paris (2016); Galerie Mitterand, Paris (2016); the Musée d’art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva (2006); Musée d’Art Moderne, Villeneuve d’Ascq, Lille, France (1998); the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany (1995-96); Serpentine Gallery, London (1990); the Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmo, Sweden (1990); IVAM Centre del Carme, Valencia, Spain (1990); Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (1989), and Portikus, Frankfurt, Germany (1988), among many others. He has produced public art projects in both the United States and Europe, and his works are held in over 70 art museum collections around the world.
McCollum’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including: “Shapes/Colors,” Galerie des Bains, Geneva (2019); “Art & Entertainment,” MAMCO, Geneva (2018); “Exo Emo” at Greene Naftali Gallery, New York (2017); “In Place Of,” Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York; “Fade In: Int. Art Gallery—Day,” Swiss Institute / Contemporary Art, New York (2016); “Art for a Nation: Inspiration from the Great Depression,” High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon (2016); “The Art of Our Time,” The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, curated by Helen Molesworth (2015-2016); “New York in the 1980s: Urban Theater,” Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth (2015); “Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology,” Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2014); 9th Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2013); “This Will Have Been: Art, Love, & Politics in the 1980s,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2012-2013); “The Pictures Generation: 1974-1984,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2009); “Singular Forms,” The Guggenheim Museum, New York (2004); “The Museum as Muse,” The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1999); “L’Informe: Mode d’Emploi,” Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (1996); “Objects of Desire: The Modern Still Life,” The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1996); “Allegories of Modernism,” The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1992); “The 1991 Sydney Biennale, ”Sydney, Australia (1991); “Image World: Art and Media Culture,” The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1989); “A Forest of Signs: Art in the Crisis of Representation,” The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1989); “Aperto,” the 43rd Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (1988); “Implosion: et postmodernt perspektiv,” Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; and “Ailleurs et Autrement,” Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France (1984), and many more.
A number of writers have published texts on Allan McCollum's work, including Rhea Anastas, Nicolas Bourriaud, Martha Buskirk, Lynne Cooke, Hal Foster, Andrea Fraser, Suzi Gablik, Claude Gintz, Rosalind Krauss, Thomas Lawson, MaryJo Marks, Johannes Meinhardt, John Miller, Helen Molesworth, Lars Nittve, Craig Owens, Catherine Quéloz, and Anne Rorimer. McCollum has occasionally interviewed and written essays on fellow artists for books and catalogs, including Matt Mullican, Allen Ruppersberg, Andrea Zittel, and Harrell Fletcher.
"Every project I've done has been an inquiry into what it is we look for in an artwork."
Installation view, Allan McCollum: Works since 1969, Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA Miami), 2020
Installation view, The Shapes Project, Petzel, 2006