What has long been rumored is now certain: Nicole Eisenman, one of the key artists of her generation, is joining the roster of powerhouse international gallery Hauser & Wirth.
The decision comes at the end of an absolutely stellar 12 months for Eisenman, which saw her appear prominently in both the Venice Biennale and the Whitney Biennial in New York.
The artist, who was born in 1965, has now appeared in the Whitney show three times, and was among the artists this year who asked to pull their work in protest of defense-manufacturer Warren B. Kanders’s presence on the museum’s board.
Long revered for her exuberantly colored figurative paintings, which bring a playful élan and tender touch to boisterous group scenes, intimate moments between lovers, polyvalent allegorical pictures, and wry portraits and self-portraits, Eisenman has also been venturing into rollicking sculpture of late. Those works have been central attractions at the 2013 Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, the 2017 Skulptur Projekte Münster in Germany, and the Whitney. She is a rare “two-sport threat,” as Phyllis Tuchman put it in these pages recently.
“It is a dream come true that a collaboration is possible,” Marc Payot, partner and vice president at Hauser & Wirth, said in an interview, comparing Eisenman’s work to that of other storied artists on the gallery’s roster, like painters Philip Guston and Leon Golub.
Eisenman’s first solo outing with Hauser & Wirth will occur in the fall of 2021 at its under-construction headquarters in Chelsea, and a new painting by her will hang on the gallery’s booth at Art Basel Miami Beach in a couple weeks.
As is the case with just about all Hauser & Wirth representation arrangements, this is a worldwide deal, but Eisenman will continue to have working relationships with two other galleries, Anton Kern in New York and Vielmetter Los Angeles.
Anton Kern Gallery said in a statement that it is “looking forward to its ongoing relationship with Nicole, and collaborations with all of her galleries, new and old.” Kern and Eisenman will take part in a public conversation during Art Basel Miami Beach “about artist and gallerist relationships, and all the complexities that entails,” the gallery noted. (NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale director Bonnie Clearwater will moderate.) Kern will also stage a show of her paper-pulp paintings in February.
“We believe Nicole Eisenman is one of the most important and poignant artists of our time and we very much look forward to continuing our close working relationship with her,” Vielmetter said in an email, and added, “We welcome the opportunity to work closely with Hauser and Wirth.”
One major advantage of joining Hauser & Wirth, of course, is that it has a robust number of international spaces to show art and reach new audiences. It currently has branches in London, Hong Kong, New York (on the Upper East Side and Chelsea), Los Angeles, and Somerset, England, plus three in Switzerland, in Zurich, Gstaad, and St. Moritz. It also has a multipurpose arts center in the works on an island in Menorca, Spain.