Rachel Harrison

Born 1966 in New York, New York
Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York


BA, Wesleyan University, 1989


During the 1990s, Harrison developed an eclectic sculptural language in which abstract forms are juxtaposed with seemingly ignoble materials (jars of honey, aluminum cans) and peppered with pop-cultural references. The resulting works, which mix the seemingly incommensurate languages of Minimalism and Pop, are powerful both as three-dimensional structures and as assemblages of two-dimensional imagery.

Harrison’s first solo show, at Arena Gallery in New York in 1996, was titled Should home windows or shutters be required to withstand a direct hit from an eight-foot-long two-by-four shot from a cannon at 34 miles an hour, without creating a hole big enough to let through a three-inch sphere? In it, the artist created an installation that resembled an absurdly decorated interior, replete with such heterogeneous materials as photographs of trash bags, globs of brightly colored papier-mâché, and cans of peas. In other works—such as Unplugged, produced for the 2000 Whitney Biennial—Harrison utilizes sculpture as a display device to support photographs. She has frequently made reference to systems of belief—both religion and consumer culture—in her selection of images; for Perth Amboy (2001), for example, she took photographs of a New Jersey home where an image of the Virgin Mary had been spotted in condensation on a window. Her Posh Floored as Ali G Tackles Becks (2004), an installation at the Camden Arts Centre in London, consisted of videos and dynamic sculptures of found objects painted and set in plaster; here the composite readymade was converted into an abstract reference to a tabloid news story. Her more recent photographic series Voyage of the Beagle (2007), named after Charles Darwin’s field journal, explores a wide gamut of figural representation ranging from mannequins to public sculptures, from taxidermy animals to 5000-year-old Corsican sculptures. Sculptures like Blazing Saddles(2003) and All in the Family (2012) enact a range of dialogues—between handcrafted and commercially produced objects, aesthetic and consumer goods, among other topics—and engage broader social and political histories of exchange.

–  text courtesy of Guggenheim Museum


Greene Naftali Gallery, New York


Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York Art
Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore
Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland
Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio
The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University
Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris
The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
Henry Art Gallery, Seattle
Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Museum Ludwig, Cologne
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Tate Modern, London
Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut