Gary  Simmons

Gary Simmons

born in 1964 in New York (United States of America)

Gary Simmons, is an American artist born in New York in 1964. His works refer to the situation and experiences of the African American population in the United States.

Gary Simmons appropriates stereotypes from American popular culture through what he expressly calls "erasure drawing”.

This is a technique that generates a blurred effect bordered by hard dark lines. A sort of aura is thus created around stereotypical simulacra of American culture, making these figures appear to be in motion, blurred and dissolved in the environment.


For Simmons, the theme of image erasure reconnects to a distant memory, the memory of chalk on a blackboard, a memory where the image or writing is erased, but the dust and the imprint of the chalk always remain imprinted on the black support. 


So the artist alludes to history, to the impossibility of forgetting, no event can ever be entirely erased and therefore forgotten; almost as if artistic practice were for him a vain attempt to remove a stereotype and the traces of an essential and profound pain.


This technique contains an important intrinsic meaning: the desire to erase what these figures represent: images full of hatred and born with the intent to mock and offend the African American people. 

However, the subjects remain recognizable and through the work of art, they denounce a past discrimination, which unfortunately is still rooted in today's society.

Recovering and reproducing these iconic, highly recognizable images confronts the viewer with the precarious living conditions of African Americans both past and present.

GARY SIMMONS (1964, New York, USA)


Selected exhibitions


2021  FTZART, ‘Wherehouse’, Shanghai, China

          Galleri Opdahl, ‘Pushing The Margins: A Survey of LA Artists’, cur. 

          Charles Gaines, Stavanger, Norway

2019  Desert X, ‘DX19’, Coachella Valley CA

          Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, ‘Prisoner of Love’, Chicago IL

2018  Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, ‘Walls Turned Sideways’, 

          Houston TX

          São Paulo Museum of Art, ‘Histórias Afroatlânticas’, São Paulo, Brazil

          Museum of the African Diaspora, ‘Second Look, Twice: Selections 

           from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation’, 

          San Francisco CA

2017 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, ‘Drawings from the Collection’, 

         San Francisco CA

         Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, ‘Urban Planning’, St. Louis MO

         Studio Museum in Harlem, ‘Excerpt’, New York NY

         Whitney Museum of American Art, ‘An Incomplete History of Protest’, 

          New York NY

          Walker Art Center, ‘I am you, you are too’, Minneapolis MN

          The Fabric Workshop and Museum, ‘Process and Practice’, Philadelphia

         California African American Museum, ‘Fade to Black’, Los Angeles CA

         Southern Exposure, ‘Recapturing Memories of the Black Ark’, 

         San Francisco CA

         Regen Projects, ‘Balcony Seating Only’, Los Angeles CA

2016 Whitney Museum of American Art, ‘Human Interest: Portraits from the 

         Whitney Collection’, New York NY

2015 La Biennale di Venezia, ‘56th International Art Exhibition. All the World’s                     Futures’, Venice, Italy 

         Sharjah Biennial, ‘The Past, The Present, The Possible’, United Arab 


         Brooklyn Museum, ‘I See Myself in You’, Brooklyn NY

2014 Prospect International Contemporary Art Biennial, ‘Prospect.3: Notes for                Now’, New Orleans LA

       Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 

        ‘Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky and the Architectural Association’, 

        St. Louis MO


Gary  Simmons - Piano Man
Piano Man
Oil and cold wax on canvas
213,4 × 274,3 cm
Gary Simmons - Piano Man
2020 - Oil and cold wax on canvas - 213,4 × 274,3 cm
Gary  Simmons - Midnight Marauder
Midnight Marauder
Oil on canvas
213 x 213 cm
Gary Simmons - Midnight Marauder
2004 - Oil on canvas - 213 x 213 cm