Gary Hume

Gary Hume. Photo: Voytek Ketz

 

Gary Hume (*1962) is one of the leading British painters and sculptors of his generation. His oeuvre, often executed with high-gloss industrial paint on surfaces that include aluminum panels, infuses high modernist abstract formalism with an emphatic, sign-like quality. The London and New York-based artist develops his works from found images and personal memories, giving rise to a pictorial idiom in which horror and beauty, eroticism and melancholy, glamour and alienation, go hand in hand. His works are meditations on the sublime of the everyday, the fleetingness of memory and the fragility of life.

 

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Hume came to prominence as a member of the Young British Artists generation who studied at Goldsmiths College in London. The Door paintings, his first body of work from the late 1980s and early 1990s, consists of abstract paintings that often recall the double swing doors of hospitals, museums, or cafeterias. The architectural reference of these works and their large, vertical formats reflect the viewer’s own body proportions. Their strength derives from a specific tension between hermetic modernism and mimetic representation. Rendered simply with pre-mixed enamel paint, many of these “doors” bear an unlikely resemblance to human faces: Their formal geometric vocabulary does not obliterate the figurative but instead allows it to return as something uncanny and repressed—as the product of the viewer’s automatic, anthropomorphizing gaze.

The 1990s and early 2000s saw a broadening of Hume’s artistic practice. The Door series was followed by well-known paintings of flowers, plants, birds, nudes and celebrities—paintings that hover in the charged space between abstract and figurative pictorial strategies, ethereal abstraction and ordinary, everyday phenomena. Having painted on canvas and hardboard at the beginning of his career, the artist now favors aluminum panels as a painting surface. His imagery is often taken from mass media and found photographs, which he projects onto the aluminum plates before tracing their contours—either scratching them directly into the enamel or creating three-dimensional “dams” and allowing the gloss paint to pool between them. His palette of pastel colors is often dominated by hues including antique pink, purple, brownish beige, or aquamarine. The high-gloss enamel he uses has the look of plastic when dried, a trait that contributes to both its retro-aesthetic, melancholic appearance and its insistently contemporary feel. Many of his paintings—the superimposed nude outlines of the Water Paintings  series (1999), for example, or the paintings and sculptures of his cheerleader-inspired American Tan series (2007)—exude an elusive sexual energy. Other works including his iconic, bronze Snowman sculptures (ongoing since 1997), have a dark, comic edge or make use of drastic, corporeal pictorial content, as exemplified by The Shit and The Cunt (both 2009). For all the apparent banality of their references, each of these works exudes a surprising elegance as well.

Hume’s more recent works bear witness to a further shift in direction, both formally and in terms of content. Painting series such as Mum (2017) or Destroyed School Paintings (2019) and sculpture series including Wonky Wheels (2018) or Ghost Sculptures (2019) increasingly explore the artist’s private memories or can be understood as a personal grappling with such political tragedies as the refugee crisis, the wars in the Middle East and exhausting news cycles. Apart from the expansion of his sculptural practice, his new work is often characterized by his choice of paper as a painting surface. The material is less forgiving than the aluminum and does not allow any reworking, as the enamel Hume uses causes the paper to buckle. The result is a fragile, tactile and melancholic structure that often epitomizes the content of these works and their engagement with mortality and the fragility of memory.

While Hume’s work appears to negotiate pop-culture iconographies, it also short-circuits them with an exploration of the aesthetic, psychological and cultural limits of color and form. The directness with which it expresses both the pleasure and the horror of the decorative paradoxically evokes the sublimity of the ordinary and domestic. All of the artist’s work, regardless of medium, has a kind of characteristic emotional charge—the expression of a singular, provisional sensibility that is enigmatically transmitted to the viewer.

 

Gary Hume: Studio Visit 
TateShots series, 2013
Courtesy Tate
© Tate, London 2013
Works
Gary Hume
Gary Hume
Paradise Painting Two, 2010

Gary Hume
Paradise Painting Two, 2010
Gloss paint on aluminium
198 × 386 cm
78 × 152 inches

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
Two Rooms, 2019

Gary Hume
Two Rooms, 2019
Gloss paint on aluminium
135 × 98 cm
53 1/8 × 38 5/8 inches

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
Remnant, 2019

Gary Hume
Remnant, 2019
Gloss paint on aluminium
148 × 238 cm
58 1/4 × 93 3/4 inches

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
The Spunk, 2009

Gary Hume
The Spunk, 2009
Gloss paint on aluminium
244 × 161 cm
96 × 63 3/8 inches

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
Sculpture 1, 2009

Gary Hume
Sculpture 1, 2009
Sculpture: marble with gloss paint, metal
Plinth: painted bronze
Sculpture: 96.5 × 54.9 × 24 cm
Plinth: 11.2 × 29.5 × 29.5 cm
Sculpture: 38 × 21 5/8 × 9 1/2 inches
Plinth: 4 3/8 × 11 5/8 × 11 5/8 inches

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, September 29–November 10, 2018

Gary Hume
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, September 29–November 10, 2018. Photo: Timo Ohler

More views
Gary Hume
Gary Hume
361 cm, 2018

Gary Hume
361 cm, 2018
Gloss paint on paper
120 × 361 × 0.3 cm
47 1/4 × 142 1/8 × 1/8 inches

More views
Gary Hume
Gary Hume
An Apple In The Orchard, 2015

Gary Hume
An Apple In The Orchard, 2015
Gloss paint on aluminium
114.5 × 152.5 cm
45 × 60 inches

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
Mum in Bed, 2017

Gary Hume
Mum in Bed, 2017
Gloss paint on aluminum
152.4 × 111.7 × 2.1 cm
60 1/4 × 44 inches

More views
Gary Hume
Gary Hume
Two Girls, 2009

Gary Hume
Two Girls, 2009
Gloss paint on aluminum
97 × 150 cm
38 1/8 × 59 inches

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
American Tan VI (Charcoal), 2006/07

Gary Hume
American Tan VI (Charcoal), 2006/07
Gloss paint, charcoal and chalk on canvas
183.3 × 128.1 cm
72 1/8 × 50 3/8 inches

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
Tulips, 2009

Gary Hume
Tulips, 2009
Gloss paint on aluminium
161 × 106 cm
63 3/8 × 41 3/4 inches

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
Pollen and Coffee, 2002

Gary Hume
Pollen and Coffee, 2002
Gloss paint on aluminium
Diameter 181.6 cm
Diameter 71 1/2 inches

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
One Eyed Person Playing Ball, 2001

Gary Hume
One Eyed Person Playing Ball, 2001
Gloss paint on aluminium
208 × 116 cm
82 × 45 3/4 inches

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
Young Mother and Child, 2001

Gary Hume
Young Mother and Child, 2001
Gloss paint on aluminium
153 × 122 cm
60 1/4 × 48 inches

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
The Whole World, 2011

Gary Hume
The Whole World, 2011
Gloss paint on aluminium
183 × 145.1 cm
72 × 571 1/4 inches

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
Four Doors I, 1989/1990

Gary Hume
Four Doors I, 1989/1990
Oil on four panels
239 × 594 cm
94 × 233 7/8 inches

Details
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Paradise Painting Two, 2010
Gloss paint on aluminium
198 × 386 cm
78 × 152 inches

Gary Hume
Paradise Painting Two, 2010
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Two Rooms, 2019
Gloss paint on aluminium
135 × 98 cm
53 1/8 × 38 5/8 inches

Gary Hume
Two Rooms, 2019
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Remnant, 2019
Gloss paint on aluminium
148 × 238 cm
58 1/4 × 93 3/4 inches

Gary Hume
Remnant, 2019
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
The Spunk, 2009
Gloss paint on aluminium
244 × 161 cm
96 × 63 3/8 inches

Gary Hume
The Spunk, 2009
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Sculpture 1, 2009
Sculpture: marble with gloss paint, metal
Plinth: painted bronze
Sculpture: 96.5 × 54.9 × 24 cm
Plinth: 11.2 × 29.5 × 29.5 cm
Sculpture: 38 × 21 5/8 × 9 1/2 inches
Plinth: 4 3/8 × 11 5/8 × 11 5/8 inches

Gary Hume
Sculpture 1, 2009
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, September 29–November 10, 2018. Photo: Timo Ohler

Gary Hume
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, September 29–November 10, 2018
Gary Hume
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Wonky Wheel (red), 2018
Gloss paint on stainless steel
195 × 196 × 6 cm
76 3/4 × 77 1/4 × 2 3/8 inches

Gary Hume
Wonky Wheel (red), 2018
Gary Hume
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Wonky Wheel (mauve), 2018
Gloss paint on stainless steel
159 × 166 × 6 cm
60 7/8 × 65 1/4 × 2 3/8 inches

Gary Hume
Wonky Wheel (mauve), 2018
Gary Hume
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Wonky Wheel (sherbet yellow), 2018
Gloss paint on stainless steel
184 × 191 × 6 cm
72 1/8 × 77 3/4 × 2 3/8 inches

Gary Hume
Wonky Wheel (sherbet yellow), 2018
Gary Hume
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Wonky Wheel (coral), 2018
Gloss paint on stainless steel
126.3 × 127.7 × 6 cm
49 3/4 × 50 1/4 × 2 3/8 inches

Gary Hume
Wonky Wheel (coral), 2018
Gary Hume
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Wonky Wheel (aqua), 2018
Gloss paint on stainless steel
127 × 129 × 6 cm
50 1/8 × 51 5/8 × 2 3/8 inches

Gary Hume
Wonky Wheel (aqua), 2018
Gary Hume
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Wonky Wheel (blue), 2018
Gloss paint on stainless steel
127 × 129 × 6 cm
49 3/4 × 49 7/8 × 2 3/8 inches

Gary Hume
Wonky Wheel (blue), 2018
Gary Hume
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Water, 2018
Gloss paint on paper
120 × 361 × 0.3 cm
47 1/4 × 142 1/8 × 1/8 inches

Gary Hume
Water, 2018
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
361 cm, 2018
Gloss paint on paper
120 × 361 × 0.3 cm
47 1/4 × 142 1/8 × 1/8 inches

Gary Hume
361 cm, 2018
Gary Hume
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
361cm, 2018 (detail)

Gary Hume
361cm, 2018
Gary Hume
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
361cm, 2018 (detail)

Gary Hume
361cm, 2018
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
An Apple In The Orchard, 2015
Gloss paint on aluminium
114.5 × 152.5 cm
45 × 60 inches

Gary Hume
An Apple In The Orchard, 2015
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Mum in Bed, 2017
Gloss paint on aluminum
152.4 × 111.7 × 2.1 cm
60 1/4 × 44 inches

Gary Hume
Mum in Bed, 2017
Gary Hume
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Mum
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, London, September 30–December 23, 2017
Photo: Kris Emmerson

Gary Hume
Mum
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, London, September 30–December 23, 2017
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Two Girls, 2009
Gloss paint on aluminum
97 × 150 cm
38 1/8 × 59 inches

Gary Hume
Two Girls, 2009
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
American Tan VI (Charcoal), 2006/07
Gloss paint, charcoal and chalk on canvas
183.3 × 128.1 cm
72 1/8 × 50 3/8 inches

Gary Hume
American Tan VI (Charcoal), 2006/07
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Tulips, 2009
Gloss paint on aluminium
161 × 106 cm
63 3/8 × 41 3/4 inches

Gary Hume
Tulips, 2009
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Pollen and Coffee, 2002
Gloss paint on aluminium
Diameter 181.6 cm
Diameter 71 1/2 inches

Gary Hume
Pollen and Coffee, 2002
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
One Eyed Person Playing Ball, 2001
Gloss paint on aluminium
208 × 116 cm
82 × 45 3/4 inches

Gary Hume
One Eyed Person Playing Ball, 2001
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Young Mother and Child, 2001
Gloss paint on aluminium
153 × 122 cm
60 1/4 × 48 inches

Gary Hume
Young Mother and Child, 2001
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
The Whole World, 2011
Gloss paint on aluminium
183 × 145.1 cm
72 × 571 1/4 inches

Gary Hume
The Whole World, 2011
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Four Doors I, 1989/1990
Oil on four panels
239 × 594 cm
94 × 233 7/8 inches

Gary Hume
Four Doors I, 1989/1990
Details
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Current and Upcoming
Gary Hume
Gary Hume: Destroyed School Paintings | Courtesy the artist, Matthew Marks Gallery & Sprüth Magers | Photo: Rik Vannevel

Gary Hume
Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens – MDD, Deurle
March 1–April 26, 2020

In the spring of 2020 the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens will present the first solo exhibition in Belgium of British artist Gary Hume. Hume is known for his abstract paintings characteristically produced with industrial paint on aluminium relating as much to contemporary conflicts as to the vulnerability of human life.

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Exhibitions at Sprüth Magers
Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Archipelago
October 6–December 23, 2020
London

Archipelago will feature a new series of large-scale, gloss-on-aluminum paintings built up with from interwoven lines and swathes of uninterrupted color. In some works, the almost uniform color of the picture plane is punctuated by cells or sections of contrasting hues. Hume often stretches his imagery to the point of abstraction, and the paintings in Archipelago have a haunting, ambiguous presence, without an obvious referent. Although the subject matter of the drawings and the paintings isn’t immediately clear, together the body of work represents Hume’s response to the humanitarian crises of the present day.

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Gary Hume

New Order: Art, Product, Image 1976 – 1995
Angus Fairhurst, Richard Hamilton, Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, Karen Knorr, Sarah Lucas, Olivier Richon, Peter Saville, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Gillian Wearing
July 23–September 14, 2019
London

New Order: Art, Product, Image 1976 – 1995 presents a group exhibition selected by Michael Bracewell that surveys identity and image in British art, culture and society between 1976 and 1995. The exhibition originates from a discussion about the cultural status and art historical positioning of one of Peter Saville’s best-known works for Factory Records made in the early 1980s and blurring the boundaries between art, design, pop and product.

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Gary Hume

Gary Hume
Mum
September 30–December 23, 2017
London

After extensive renovations, Sprüth Magers reopens its London gallery on Grafton Street. It takes over the building with an expanded exhibition space occupying three floors. The gallery opens with a debut exhibition of new works by Gary Hume. His new body of works on paper mark a critical shift in his practice. Emerging from preparatory sketches, they revealed themselves as a unique and compelling body of work that has led the artist to develop an entirely new painting method.

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Press

Gary Hume Loves His Mother. His Art Is a Valentine to Her.
The New York Times, article by Barbara Pollack, October 27, 2017

Keine Wolke über Mayfair
Die Welt, article by Gesine Borcherdt, October 14, 2017

Hume With a View – Global
Monocle, article by Marisa Mazria Katz, October 2017

What lies beneath
The Spectator, article by Martin Gayford, August 26, 2017

Gary Hume creates new works for Sprüth Magers London reopening
The Art Newspaper, article by Anny Shaw, July 5, 2017

Gary Hume at Tate Britain: ‘I Like to know what I’m doing most of the time’
Tate etc., interview by Nick Aldridge, Summer 2013

Gary Hume: ‘I couldn’t hold down a job. That’s why I became an artist’
The Guardian, article by Sean O’Hagan, May 18, 2013

 

Biography

Gary Hume (*1962, Tenterden) lives in London and New York. Selected solo exhibitions include Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens (2020), Aspen Art Museum (2016), Tate Britain (2013), Modern Art Oxford (2008), Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover (2004), Kunsthaus Bregenz (2004), Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2003), ICA, London (1999), Fundação La Caixa, Barcelona (2000) and The National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh (1999). Selected group exhibtions include National Portrait Gallery, London (2018), Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (2017), Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2016), Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (2014), Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev (2011), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2006), Tate Britain, London (2004), Louisiana Museum (2004), Kunsthalle Basel (2002) and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2001), Venice Biennale (1999) and São Paulo Biennial (1996).

Education
1988 Goldsmith’s College, London
Awards, Grants and Fellowships
1997 Jerwood Painting Prize
1996 Turner Prize (nominated)
Public Collections
Art Institute of Chicago
Arts Council of Great Britain
Astrup Fearnley Moderne Kunst, Oslo
Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht
British Council, London
Centre George Pompidou, Paris
Dallas Museum of Art
DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens
Government Art Collection, London
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Paine Webber Art Collection, New York
Royal Academy of Arts, London
Royal Collection, London
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Saatchi Collection, London
Tate, London
Victoria & Albert Museum, London