jim shaw 1

JIM SHAW: The End is Here / New Museum, New York / October 7, 2015–January 10, 2016.

Over the past thirty years, Jim Shaw (b. 1952) has become one of the United States’ most influential and visionary artists, moving between painting, sculpture, and drawing, with works that build connections between his own psyche and America’s larger political, social, and spiritual histories. Shaw mines his imagery from the cultural refuse of the twentieth century, using comic books, record covers, conspiracy magazines, and obscure religious iconography to produce a portrait of the nation’s subconscious. Although a recognized icon of the Los Angeles art scene since the 1970s, Shaw has never had a comprehensive museum show in New York. This exhibition, which will encompass three floors of the New Museum, will reveal the breadth and inventiveness of his art. A comprehensive selection of his works will be presented alongside objects from his collections of vernacular art and religious didactic materials.

“The End is Here” will present some of Shaw’s most iconic projects, including early airbrush drawings; large selections from his series “Dream Drawings” (1992–99), “Dream Objects” (1994–present), and the sprawling “My Mirage” (1985–91); and Labyrinth: I Dreamt I was Taller than Jonathan Borofsky (2009), a large-scale, immersive installation of sculptures and painted theatrical backdrops.

These instantly recognizable works and series—which succeed in reinvigorating and complicating traditional categories like portraiture, history painting, figuration, and abstraction—have never before been brought together in a single exhibition. This survey will also include a presentation of his collection of thrift store paintings, originally shown in New York in 1991, as well as his ongoing collection of religious pedagogical materials. Presented under the title “The Hidden World,” this diverse assortment of pamphlets, posters, banners, and other ephemera catalogs the spiritual exhortations and admonishments of a constantly expanding pantheon of homegrown prophets and visionaries. These two collections demonstrate Shaw’s unique insight into the spiritual and aesthetic history of America and the ways in which the obscure, personal expressions he has collected have informed his own unique artworks.

As part of his process, Shaw consistently relies upon in-depth historical research, the exploration of his own personal experience and subconscious, and the creation of fictitious histories and characters. The combination of these strategies results in a powerful evocation of the themes of belief, madness, materialism, and war, as they continue to influence contemporary life. The exhibition is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Artistic Director, and Gary Carrion-Mura­yari, Kraus Family Curator, with Margot Norton, Associate Curator.

Image: Jim Shaw, « Labyrinth: I Dreamt I was Taller than Jonathan Borofsky », 2009. Installation: acrylic on muslin canvas stretched over plywood panels, dimensions variable. Collection Eric Decelle, Brussels

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