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Gary Simmons, Artist Focused on Erasure and Racist Stereotypes, Heads to Hauser & Wirth

Gary Simmons, an artist whose work focusing on histories of racism and latent forms of violence has garnered mass acclaim, will now be represented by Hauser & Wirth, a mega-gallery with 10 exhibition spaces on three continents. He is the latest artist to leave New York’s legendary Metro Pictures gallery, which announced plans to wind down operations after 40 years in business. Cindy Sherman, Metro Pictures’s most high-profile artist, joined Hauser & Wirth earlier this month.

Through the new representation, Simmons will also depart Anthony Meier Fine Arts (of San Francisco), Regen Projects (of Los Angeles), and Simon Lee Gallery (of London and Hong Kong).

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Simmons’s art has taken the form of paintings, sculptures, installations, and drawings, and it has been shown widely at museums across the world. His breakout works, made during the 1990s, feature racist imagery culled from mass media, which he painted and then smudged, so that their forms appear to be disappearing into the ether. He has also applied the technique, known as “erasure,” to various texts.

Marc Payot, president of Hauser & Wirth, said in a statement, “Over the past 30 years, Gary has achieved an incredibly rare alchemy of feeling with his paintings, installations, sound works, and sculptures. Simultaneously depicting and erasing—a process that in itself suggests the strange, willful impermanence of American culture—he’s created a powerful artistic language to express the personal and collective experience of Black Americans.”

Simmons had been one of the core artists at the center of Metro Pictures’s program, having had 11 solo shows there. The first of them took place in 1993, and the last, featuring new paintings, was staged in 2020. His work has also appeared in a spread of important shows, including 1994’s “Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art” at the Whitney Museum and 2009’s “30 Seconds Off an Inch” at the Studio Museum in Harlem, as well as in editions of the Venice Biennale, the Sharjah Biennial, and the Prospect New Orleans triennial. The California American Art Museum in Los Angeles, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, among others, have also staged solo shows devoted to him. His first Hauser & Wirth show will take place in Los Angeles in 2022.

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