Jim Shaw, an artist known for his vast installations and paintings that draw on semi-fictional religions and the occult, has joined Gagosian, one of the biggest galleries in the world. He had long been represented by New York’s Metro Pictures, which announced plans to wind down operations this past March after 40 years in business.
Shaw’s hard-to-categorize work often presents dreamlike, disturbing visions that meld imagery culled from comic books, pulp, and advertising. At stake is an interest in undoing the sense of purity found in many pictures of the United States during the postwar era. Oism, a religion loosely based on Mormonism that Shaw invented, guides much of his art, as does an interest in the thin boundary between “high” and “low” aesthetics.
In an email to ARTnews, Gagosian director Mark Francis said, “Jim has an uncanny ability to dig beneath the surface of American subcultures and networks, revealing connections through his imaginative and fantastical paintings, drawings and sculptural elements. He has a surreal vision of modern society, and he is also a great mentor to many younger artists, filmmakers and writers.”
He added, “I have known Jim and admired his work for a good number of years, and Larry [Gagosian] is also a long-standing enthusiast. We are very pleased to be able to work with him now.”
The jump to a mega-gallery is a big one for Shaw, who has maintained a loyal cult following in the U.S. since he began working in the 1980s. (Prior to that, he had been a part of the band Destroy All Monsters, which also included the artist Mike Kelley.) In 2015, Shaw was the subject of a retrospective at the New Museum in New York.
Gagosian will represent Shaw alongside Simon Lee Gallery in London, Praz-Delavallade in Paris, and Massimo di Carlo in Milan.
Shaw had been one of the mainstays at Metro Pictures, where he was represented for decades alongside artists like Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, and Louise Lawler. At that gallery, over the course of three decades, he had 15 solo exhibitions, the most recent of which closed in April.
Other Metro Pictures artists have likewise gotten representation at mega-galleries that count among Gagosian’s competitors. Sherman and Gary Simmons joined Hauser & Wirth, and Longo joined Pace Gallery.