The estate of Gretchen Bender, the late video artist whose work about media consumption has seen a resurgence in the past decade, has joined the roster of Sprüth Magers, a gallery which has locations in Berlin, London, and Los Angeles. The estate had been one of the last additions to the stable of Metro Pictures, a beloved New York gallery, before it shuttered last year after more than 40 years in business.
Bender, who died in 2004 at 53, was associated with the Pictures Generation, a group of artists that rose to fame during the late ’70s and early ’80s for their use of appropriation, often in the form of photo-based work. Members of this group include Cindy Sherman, Louise Lawler, and Sherrie Levine. Because it showed or represented so many of these artists, Metro Pictures established itself early on as a go-to space for art of the Pictures Generation.
Unlike many of her colleagues, Bender worked in film and video, making prominent use of pirated material culled from TV shows and advertisements. She frequently distorted her material, creating unsettling montages of ready-made imagery that aimed to make visible the violent, capitalistic forces that lie hidden in mass media.
Bender had achieved a following during the ’80s, and then faded into relative obscurity after that—she did not have a major solo show between 1991 and 2012. In 2013, a survey at the Kitchen in New York spurred greater interest in her work, and an inclusion in the 2014 Whitney Biennial followed. (Artist Philip Vanderhyden helped reconstruct the work on view there, since some of Bender’s art had fallen into disrepair, due to its technological complexity.) In 2016, Bender’s landmark video installation Dumping Core (1984) was acquired by New York’s Museum of Modern Art, which currently has the work on view.
Many artists on Metro Pictures’s roster have gone on to get representation with the world’s biggest galleries. Camille Henrot, Cindy Sherman, and Gary Simmons joined Hauser & Wirth; Jim Shaw was scooped up by Gagosian; and Latifa Echakhch and Robert Longo were taken on by Pace Gallery. Lawler, who was already represented by Sprüth Magers, expanded her deal with that gallery to be exclusive and global.