Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson, 2019. Photo: Kunsthalle Basel/Dominik Asche

 

Sprüth Magers is honored to announce its global representation of The Kaari Upson Trust, working with Upson’s estate to strengthen her legacy in the years to come.

Over a prolific twenty-year period, Kaari Upson created a powerful body of work that plumbed the depths of what it means to be a living, thinking body within the complex environment of late twentieth and early twenty-first century America. The influence of her haunting sculptures, paintings, drawings, installations and videos continues to reverberate through contemporary art practice despite her death in August 2021 at the age of 51.

 

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson, Good thing you are not alone, installation view, New Museum, New York, 2017
Photo: Maris Hutchinson/EPW Studio

 

The gallery worked closely with the artist for many years. As Philomene Magers remarks, “My visits with Kaari in her studio were one of the highlights of my career, and they shaped so much of how I experience and understand Southern California, then and now. We are grateful to be able to support her meaningful work and keep its influence alive.” Monika Sprüth states, “Kaari's work is part of a distinguished lineage of artists working in Los Angeles, from Chris Burden to Paul McCarthy to Mike Kelley, and she has shaped artists of a younger generation, too, who worked in her studio or encountered her work in museums worldwide.”

 

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Aqua-Fresh, 2014–16
Silicone, pigment, nylon and fiberglass
200.7 x 154.9 x 22.9 cm
79 x 61 x 9 inches

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Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
In Search of the Perfect Double (I), 2016
Urethane, pigment and aluminum
200.7 × 78.7 × 193 cm
79 × 31 × 76 inches

More views
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014–16
Urethane, aluminum, cement, pigment and steel
Dimensions variable

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Over the years, Upson was known particularly for her sculptures cast from domestic objects, often the kind found discarded by the side of the road, such as mattresses, couches, buckets and soda cans. She viewed the casting and mold-making process not only as a way to re-imagine the original objects' forms, but also to extract from their surfaces the memories and experiences of those who had used them, merging objecthood and personhood in ways both alluring and disturbing.

Details
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Aqua-Fresh, 2014–16
Silicone, pigment, nylon and fiberglass
200.7 x 154.9 x 22.9 cm
79 x 61 x 9 inches

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Aqua-Fresh, 2014–16 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Aqua-Fresh, 2014–16 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
In Search of the Perfect Double (I), 2016
Urethane, pigment and aluminum
200.7 × 78.7 × 193 cm
79 × 31 × 76 inches

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
In Search of the Perfect Double (I), 2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
In Search of the Perfect Double (I), 2017 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014–16
Urethane, aluminum, cement, pigment and steel
Dimensions variable

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Hallways, 2014-2016 (detail)

Details
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Over the years, Upson was known particularly for her sculptures cast from domestic objects, often the kind found discarded by the side of the road, such as mattresses, couches, buckets and soda cans. She viewed the casting and mold-making process not only as a way to re-imagine the original objects' forms, but also to extract from their surfaces the memories and experiences of those who had used them, merging objecthood and personhood in ways both alluring and disturbing.

This was an impulse borne from Upson's earliest series, The Larry Project (2005–12), in which she examined the life and psyche of “Larry,” her parents’ neighbor who had abandoned copious amounts of personal items when his house partially burned down in the suburbs of San Bernardino, the artist's hometown. Using content from his papers, photographs and furniture, Upson wove together fact and fiction via “kiss paintings,” sculptures, drawings and videos that blended her and Larry's psyches.

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Untitled (kiss painting 11), 2008 (detail)
Oil on panel
2 panels, 121.9 x 121.9 cm each
2 panels 48 x 48 inches each

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Untitled (kiss painting 11), 2008 (detail)
Oil on panel
2 panels, 121.9 x 121.9 cm each
2 panels 48 x 48 inches each

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Untitled (kiss painting 11), 2008
Oil on panel
2 panels, 121.9 x 121.9 cm each
2 panels 48 x 48 inches each

Details
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Untitled (kiss painting 11), 2008 (detail)
Oil on panel
2 panels, 121.9 x 121.9 cm each
2 panels 48 x 48 inches each

Kaari Upson
Untitled (kiss painting 11), 2008 (detail)
Oil on panel
2 panels, 121.9 x 121.9 cm each
2 panels 48 x 48 inches each

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Untitled (kiss painting 11), 2008 (detail)
Oil on panel
2 panels, 121.9 x 121.9 cm each
2 panels 48 x 48 inches each

Kaari Upson
Untitled (kiss painting 11), 2008 (detail)
Oil on panel
2 panels, 121.9 x 121.9 cm each
2 panels 48 x 48 inches each

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Untitled (kiss painting 11), 2008
Oil on panel
2 panels, 121.9 x 121.9 cm each
2 panels 48 x 48 inches each

Details
icon_fullscreen
1 of 3

This was an impulse borne from Upson's earliest series, The Larry Project (2005–12), in which she examined the life and psyche of “Larry,” her parents’ neighbor who had abandoned copious amounts of personal items when his house partially burned down in the suburbs of San Bernardino, the artist's hometown. Using content from his papers, photographs and furniture, Upson wove together fact and fiction via “kiss paintings,” sculptures, drawings and videos that blended her and Larry's psyches.

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson, MMDP, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2016–17

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson, MMDP, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2016–17

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson, MMDP, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2016–17

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson, MMDP, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2016–17

Details
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson, MMDP, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2016–17

Kaari Upson, MMDP, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2016–17

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson, MMDP, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2016–17

Kaari Upson, MMDP, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2016–17

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson, MMDP, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2016–17

Kaari Upson, MMDP, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2016–17

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson, MMDP, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2016–17

Kaari Upson, MMDP, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2016–17

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Upson’s deep exploration of everyday objects extended to those from her own biography. For MMDP (My Mother Drinks Pepsi)—the subject of an artist’s book published by Sprüth Magers and an exhibition at Sprüth Magers, Berlin in 2016—she constructed totemic sculptures from cast cans of Pepsi, the daily guilty pleasure of her mother, a German immigrant who idealized her adopted American home.

 

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Oma (Plaid shirt), 2020
Medium-density fiberboard, acrylic and oil paint
53.3 × 30.5 × 38.7 cm
21 × 12 × 15 1/4 inches

More views
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Mother's Legs, 2018–19
Urethane, wood and pigment
26 parts, each 213 x 20 x 30 cm
26 parts, each 83 7/8 x 7 7/8 x 11 7/8 inches

Elsewhere, Upson mined the depths of intergenerational trauma, creating Mother's Leg sculptures cast from her own knee, as well as busts of Oma (German for grandma), painted over with layers of Technicolor sprays and drips, that collapsed multiple generations into one stoic figure.

Details
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Oma (Plaid shirt), 2020
Medium-density fiberboard, acrylic and oil paint
53.3 × 30.5 × 38.7 cm
21 × 12 × 15 1/4 inches

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Oma (Plaid shirt), 2020 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Oma (Plaid shirt), 2020

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Oma (Plaid shirt), 2020

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Oma (Plaid shirt), 2020 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
Mother's Legs, 2018–19
Urethane, wood and pigment
26 parts, each 213 x 20 x 30 cm
26 parts, each 83 7/8 x 7 7/8 x 11 7/8 inches

Details
icon_fullscreen
1 of 2

Elsewhere, Upson mined the depths of intergenerational trauma, creating Mother's Leg sculptures cast from her own knee, as well as busts of Oma (German for grandma), painted over with layers of Technicolor sprays and drips, that collapsed multiple generations into one stoic figure.

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson, Good thing you are not alone, installation view, New Museum, New York, 2017
Photo: Maris Hutchinson/EPW Studio

 

As her career progressed, Upson expanded the scale of her works to monumental proportions, creating wall-sized drawings and installations filling entire rooms, including at the New Museum, New York, Kunsthalle Basel and the 2019 Venice Biennial. Drawings were fundamental from the start of her career, serving as experimental fields within which she teased out concepts and forms that then cycled back into her sculptures, videos and installations.

 

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
PARTICULAR KIND OF GUILT, 2012–18
Graphite and ink on paper
362 x 184.2 cm
142 1/2 x 72 1/2 inches

More views
Details
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
PARTICULAR KIND OF GUILT, 2012–18
Graphite and ink on paper
362 x 184.2 cm
142 1/2 x 72 1/2 inches

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
PARTICULAR KIND OF GUILT, 2012–18 (detail)

Kaari Upson
PARTICULAR KIND OF GUILT, 2012–18 (detail)

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust
Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson
PARTICULAR KIND OF GUILT, 2012–18 (detail)

Kaari Upson
PARTICULAR KIND OF GUILT, 2012–18 (detail)

Details
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In the final year of her life, Upson worked actively in the studio completing multiple bodies of work that connect to her prior practice while also moving into surprising new territories.

From August 6 to October 8, 2022, Sprüth Magers will present an exhibition at the Los Angeles gallery that features a selection of these last works, demonstrating an artist at the height of her creative powers and introducing a new lens through which to understand Upson's larger oeuvre. Conceived alongside curator Ali Subotnick, who organized Upson's first institutional solo exhibition in 2007 at the Hammer Museum, the exhibition will also include earlier works never shown before in the US.

 

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson, There is no such thing as outside, 2017–19, installation view, 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, 2019
Photo: Timo Ohler

 

New works will also debut as part of The Milk of Dreams, the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, curated by Cecilia Alemani, opening April 23, 2022. This is the second time Upson is included in this prestigious exhibition, having participated in the 58th edition curated by Ralph Rugoff in 2019. Additional institutional projects include Shifting the Silence at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art curated by Eungie Joo (on view April 9–September 5, 2022), which brings together recent acquisitions to the permanent collection by women artists who use the radical language of abstraction to enhance our understanding of the world.

Upson's loss is felt profoundly. Through these and other forthcoming projects, Sprüth Magers looks forward to working together with the estate to share Upson's work with audiences across the world, cementing her important place within contemporary art.

 

Kaari Upson – Announcing Global Representation of her Trust

Kaari Upson in her Los Angeles studio, 2011

All images © The Kaari Upson Trust