HAUSER & WIRTH has added pioneering conceptual artist Charles Gaines to its roster. With locations in New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London, Zurich, Somerset, England,and Gstaad, Switzerland, the gallery will represent Gaines worldwide. The Los Angeles-based artist was previously represented by Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects and Paula Cooper Gallery. Gaines will continue his relationship with Galerie Max Hetzler, his Berlin gallery.

Gaines, 74, is primarily known for his photographs, drawings, and works on paper and acrylic glass. Employing systems-based methodologies, he generally works in series, exploring language, aesthetics, politics, and music.

His most recent exhibition “Charles Gaines: Faces 1: Identity Politics” was on view at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York earlier this summer. His first exhibition with Hauser & Wirth is expected in the coming year in Los Angeles.

Andrea Schwan, a spokesperson for Hauser & Wirth, confirmed to Culture Type that Gaines has joined the gallery and said a formal announcement would be made early this week. The news was first reported by ARTnews on Saturday.

Schwan provided the following statement from Marc Payot, partner and vice president of Hauser & Wirth: “Charles Gaines’ position in the evolution of conceptual art and the emergence of the Los Angeles art scene have very special resonance in the context of our program. From the 1970s, he was one of the few African-American conceptual artists to focus on abstraction and aesthetics as means to explore ideas about perception, objectivity, and relationships. His influence is deep and profound.”

“From the 1970s, [Charles Gaines] was one of the few African-American conceptual artists to focus on abstraction and aesthetics as means to explore ideas about perception, objectivity, and relationships. His influence is deep and profound.” — Marc Payot of Hauser & Wirth

THE STUDIO MUSEUM IN HARLEM presented Gaines’s first-ever museum survey in 2014, showcasing more than 75 early works. Organized by Naima Keith, “Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989” (July 17–Oct. 26, 2014) traveled to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in 2015.

In its review of the exhibition, the New York Times wrote: “The art of Charles Gaines is the opposite of hedonistic. Austere, cerebral, coldly formal and elliptically self-reflexive, it won’t play to viewers who look for sensual pleasure, emotional expression, imaginative fantasy and traditional craft in art. But if the history of postmodern theory is your thing, you should see ‘Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989.'”

The Los Angeles Times said: “Charles Gaines’ drawings from the 1970s and 1980s are not for the faint of heart. …Do not despair. Plunge in. Things will soon, well, begin to add up.”

MORE RECENTLY, “Faces 1: Identity Politics” at Paula Cooper featured 12 new large-scale portraits painted on gridded clear acrylic panels. The chronological series depicts critical thinkers active across centuries, from Aristotle and Karl Marx, to W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Delores Huerta, Molefi Kete Asante, and bell hooks. Gaines created the pixelated images by “plotting numbers to index the contours of each face.”

He also presented “Manifestos 3” in the exhibition in which he composed musical scores “through systematic transliteration.” Two large graphite drawings and a single channel video form this body of work inspired two historic texts: “Princes and Powers,” the 1957 essay by James Baldwin in which he examines the Paris Conference of Black Writers and Artists (September 1956), and a speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr., on Nov. 13, 1967, upon receiving an honorary degree at Newcastle University in the UK. King spoke candidly about racism, citing it as one of the great problems facing the United States and the world. The artist transformed the texts into sheet music by assigning a note to each letter of the alphabet.

The catalog published to accompany “Gridwork” includes a conversation between the artist and Courtney J. Martin, in which he explains his approach. Gaines said, “My use of systems is not an empirical or documentary tool. I use systems in order to provoke the issues around representation.”

“My use of systems is not an empirical or documentary tool. I use systems in order to provoke the issues around representation.” — Charles Gaines

BORN IN CHARLESTON, S.C., Gaines completed his BA degree at Jersey City State College and earned an MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology. Over the course of his nearly half-century career, his work has been presented throughout the United States and around the world in more than 80 solo exhibitions and countless group exhibitions.

While maintaining his highly regarded practice, Gaines has been a dedicated educator. Beginning in 1968, he taught for more than two decades at Fresno State College (now California State University, Fresno). He has been a faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts since 1990 where his students over the years have included Los Angeles-based artists Edgar Arceneaux, Rodney McMillian, and Henry Taylor.

Gaines is also engaged with the work of a wider group of artist peers spanning generations. In February, he curated “Terry Adkins: The Smooth, The Cut, and The Assembled” at Lévy Gorvy in New York, the first presentation of Adkins’s work at the gallery since it began representing the artist’s estate. He has also participated in programming surrounding Adkins’s work at the Museum of Modern Art and ICA Miami. A dialogue between Gaines and Kerry James Marshall is published in the recent Phaidon volume about Marshall’s work. With Connie Butler, chief curator at the Hammer Museum, he led a May walk through of “Mark Bradford: New Works” at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles. Later in the month, Gaines was in conversation with fellow Los Angeles-based artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby at The Broad.

Payot noted the connections between the work of Gaines and that of other artists represented by the gallery. He said: “…his work connects in provocative ways to that of such seemingly disparate fellow artists as Jack Whitten, Larry Bell, Zoe Leonard, and Mark Bradford. As we continue to explore critical bridges between generations, deepen our commitment to women artists and artists of color, and introduce artists to new and more diverse audiences internationally, it’s an honor to welcome Charles to our Hauser & Wirth family.” CT


TOP IMAGE: Charles Gaines. | Photo © Fredrik Nilsen, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth


Published to document the artist’s first-ever museum survey, “Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989” includes written contributions by Thelma Golden, Naima Keith, Ellen Tani, Anne Ellegood, Howard Singerman, and Malik Gaines (the artist’s son, who is writer, artist, and scholar). The volume also features a conversation between Gaines and Courtney J. Martin, and a roundtable discussion with Edgar Arceneaux, Andrea Bowers, Sam Durant, Rodney McMillian, and Henry Taylor, accomplished artists who studied with Gaines at the California Institute of the Arts.


Charles Gaines talks about his work on display at Art + Practice in Los Angeles (2015), drawing an analogy between a Spanish opera and a speech by Stokely Carmichael. | Video by Hammer Museum


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