Liza Lou (b. New York, NY; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) is an artist who, for the past thirty years, has made sculpture, paintings, drawings and room-size environments that induce states of wonder, beginning with the groundbreaking Kitchen (1991–1996) – a solid beaded room-size environment now in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and other large scale sculptures, such as Back Yard, (1996–1999), in the collection of Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, which consists of over 250,000 handmade blades of grass made of beads. From 2005-2020 the artist lived and worked in Durban, South Africa, where she founded an art studio which included a women’s advocacy program—the first of its kind to combine social practice within an art studio setting.
Examples of the wide range of the artist’s work includes Offensive | Defensive, (2008), a monumentally scaled prayer rug which breaks down into lush abstract pattern and was included in the group exhibition Less is a Bore, ICA Boston, (2019). Another sculpture, Continuous Mile (2008) is a mile-long rope comprised of meticulously woven glass beads was included in the exhibition Less is More, Museum Voorlinden, the Netherlands (2019.) Written and performance work includes the solo film Born Again (52 min. 2004), Durban Diaries, written by Liza Lou (Published by White Cube, 2011), and Drawing Instrument (2018), a single channel video which records the harmonics of the artist’s drawing and meditation practice.
The artist has had numerous solo gallery exhibitions around the world, including Lehmann Maupin, London, (2021), Seoul (2019), New York (2018), and Hong Kong (2017); Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg (2016), Paris (2014 and 2010); White Cube, London (2014, 2012, 2006); L&M Arts, Los Angeles (2011), New York (2008). Solo museum exhibitions include Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art, Cape Town, South Africa (2018); Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY (2015); Wichita Museum of Art, Wichita, KS (2015); Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA (2013); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2011); Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Germany (2002), and Bass Museum of Art, Miami, FL (2001). Group exhibitions include Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950-2019, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2019-2022); We the People: New Art from the Collection, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (2018); Pulling at Threads, Norval Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa (2018); SUPERPOSITION & Engagement, 21st Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, Australia (2018) and 19th Century and Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY (2010).
Liza Lou is the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and an Anonymous Was a Woman Award. Rizzoli Electa recently published their second comprehensive monograph on the artist’s work with essays by Glenn Adamson, Cathleen Chaffee, Elisabeth Sherman, Carrie Mae Weems, and Julia Bryan-Wilson. Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac will mount a solo exhibition of the artist’s new paintings in April, 2023, Paris, and Lehmann Maupin will present a solo exhibition of her work in New York in 2025.
Artist portrait by Mick Haggerty