Stockholder in Utrecht

Jessica Stockholder | Tablet Magazine | By Jeremy Sigler


To marvel at a work by Jessica Stockholder is not only to examine her unorthodox assembly of the world’s kit, but to wonder where on earth she shops—where she gets such good deals? Her unconventional art supplies seem to either descend from outer space, or crawl up out of dumpsters. It’s as if junk—be it new or used—has no other purpose than to animate her dystopian sculptural choreography.

One imagines Stockholder stocking up, as it were. Like a chef instinctively sniffing out the freshest ingredients (the tackiest kitschiest artifacts), she’s confident that in time the right idea for their incorporation will come.

I imagine her throwing back a shot of absinthe and embarking on an epic trip to the 99-cent store, in the same 1970s, American-made station wagon (boat) my mom used to drive—a postmodern suburban flâneur, experiencing what Walter Benjamin experienced in Paris (albeit by foot): a fetishistic fix. When the world goes on sale, it’s Stockholder who will have all the coupons.

Indeed, at its root, her process is as decadent as a department store. Picture Rooney Mara seduced by Cate Blanchett in the opening scene of Todd Haynes’ Carol. Or conversely the subtle pathos of a scene in Frederick Wiseman’s The Store (1983) where an average working man, out to please his wife, gets up-sold by a very cunning mink dealer in a Neiman Marcus in Dallas.

And while I’m a less-is-more kind of guy, when it comes to Stockholder, I make an exception. Notwithstanding, when I received a press release in my inbox for her upcoming exhibition all the way across the Atlantic Ocean—that massive ditch filled with salt water, a few fish, and a wad of plastic bags about the size of Brazil—in the old Dutch province of Utrecht, I was a tinge skeptical.

The world has changed since the last time I checked in with Stockholder. And even though I have always admired her “giant steps,” my mood has sobered, and I’d say I’ve lost my stride and swagger. When I read her show’s title, Stuff Matters, and skimmed the Centraal Museum’s PR material, I felt growing anxiety about the deeply contaminated world we now live in.

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MOCA on the rebound? Three strong shows and free entry are welcome signs of change

Jessica Stockholder | Los Angeles Times | By Christopher Knight

Jessica Stockholder, "White Light Laid Frozen," 2005, mixed media

Jessica Stockholder, "White Light Laid Frozen," 2005, mixed media

In a resurrection myth from ancient Greece, the powerful god Apollo accidentally kills Hyacinth, a beautiful Spartan prince, when a playful game of throwing a metal discus goes tragically awry. The mortal youth, struck in the forehead, dies in his divine lover’s arms

Later reborn as a notably phallic spring flower to assuage Apollo’s grief, Hyacinth, a representation of cycles of decay and renewal, makes an excellent motif for an anniversary celebration at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The renowned institution has had its troubles for the last decade, both financially and in terms of leadership. But as its 40th birthday rolls around, MOCA wants its public to know that the calamities are past. A new flowering is underway.

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Jessica Stockholder: Stuff Matters

Centraal Museum Utrecht

19 April - 1 September 2019


This summer, Centraal Museum presents Jessica Stockholder: Stuff Matters. Jessica Stockholder (USA 1959) came to fame in the early 1990s with colourful and picturesque as well as monumental installations. In her work, Stockholder combines all sorts of everyday items – ranging from umbrellas and cushions to furniture and lamps – to form an overwhelming composition. Through her playful manipulation of form and colour, she is able to transform the entire room.

With her open-minded approach to the world, Stockholder aims to disrupt our usual view of the items and materials that surround us daily, and to subvert our notions regarding what’s worthwhile and worthless.

In this exhibition, Jessica Stockholder acts as both artist and curator. In addition to a retrospective of her oeuvre, she applies her unique perspective to select objects from the museum’s various collections. The exhibition Jessica Stockholder: Stuff Matters will run from 19 April to 1 September 2019.

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Glasstire, Jessica Stockholder at The Contemporary Austin: Props, Assists and Situations

Installation view: Jessica Stockholder at The Contemporary Austin at the Jones Center

Installation view: Jessica Stockholder at The Contemporary Austin at the Jones Center

Jessica Stockholder 

Relational Aesthetics

The Contemporary Austin

Jones Center

700 Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78701

September 15, 2018 - January 13, 2019

Props, Assists and Situations: Jessica Stockholder at The Contemporary Austin

The promotional photographs for Relational Aesthetics, Jessica Stockholder’s show at The Contemporary Austin at the Jones Center, share some compelling features with the works themselves — they confuse the eye. It’s no accident. 

“I don’t think in volume,” Stockholder says, “I think graphically.” The sculptures themselves are described not as installations, but as three-dimensional paintings, or in some cases, “situations.” Stockholder’s propensity for working from a graphic, two-dimensional idea creates an interesting life cycle to the work, which transitions repeatedly from two-dimensional thought experiment to a three-dimensional model from which a full-scale work is rendered, and then to documentation photographs. In most instances this last phase might feel like convention, or bureaucratic necessity, but with these works, one wonders if the resulting images are actually nearer the artist’s original impulse than the structures themselves. Or perhaps it’s just another iteration of a persistent theme in Stockholder’s work — every element’s success is dependent on another element.

Stockholder routinely manipulates a viewer’s perception of space though materiality and composition, and refers to many of her works in Relational Aesthetics as “assists.” These forms range from bundles of sticks to unwieldy sheets of metal that appear to be waving in the wind, or heavy-gauge metal screens supporting miniature works of art by other artists. Each of these assists are in turn supported by a prop, which is strange reversal of expectation — or is it function, or is it semantics?

By Tatiana Ryckman

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Blouin Artinfo: Jessica Stockholder Takes Chicago

Jessica Stockholder apparently hasn't had a solo outing in Chicago in over two decades, but she's certainly making up for lost time. The artist — known for bright assemblages of consumer goods and other materials — is now a professor and chair of the visual arts department at the University of Chicago. She opened "Door Hinges," an exhibition at Kavi Gupta Gallery, two weeks ago, and she curated a companion show, "Assisted," in the same space; a large new piece dangles from the ceiling of upscale, art-crowd-friendly Chicago restaurant mk; a site-specific piece is also now on view at the Smart Museum of Art.




At Kavi Gupta, pictured above and below, the artist goes big, conscripting a freezer unit, an enormous and clunky desk, and a Smart car into her installations. Another piece sprawls through the entrance foyer, combining energetic wall-painting with driveway safety-mirrors and other found objects; it continues on the second floor of the gallery, as well as on the space's exterior. Stockholder's facility with throwaway plastic consumer detritus — generating a buzz through the artful repurposing of toys, furniture, junk, and raw color — make her a kindred spirit to someone like Iza Genzken.

— Scott Indrisek


Jessica Stockholder: Rose's Inclination at Smart Museum of Art Chicago

Jessica Stockholder: Rose's Inclination


September 12, 2015 – July 2, 2017


In a site-specific Threshold series installation, Jessica Stockholder intersects the Smart’s lobby with a wave of color and texture that climbs to the clerestory, cuts across the floor, and travels outwards into the Museum’s sculpture garden and beyond. Rose’s Inclination makes use of ordinary materials—lamps, paint, Plexiglas, carpet, and garden mulch—to “reach up and out,” altering the physical experience of the Smart Museum’s modernist architecture and landscaped courtyard. The work also repurposes a small section of the previous Threshold commission, a wall painting by Judy Ledgerwood, by agreement of both artists.


Stockholder is Raymond W. and Martha Hilpert Gruner Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of the Department of Visual Art, The University of Chicago. Art21 deemed her “a pioneer of multimedia genre-bending installations that have become a prominent language in contemporary art.” Rose’s Inclination is her second public installation in Chicago since she arrived in 2011—the first being Color Jam (2012), which took over a busy intersection in the Loop and was one of the largest public art installations in the city’s history. 

Smart Museum of Art
University of Chicago
5550 S. Greenwood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637