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Gary Hume

United Kingdom 1962

Young British Artists

Gary Hume
Gary Hume
United Kingdom
February 13, 2017
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In many ways the key figure of the famous Young British Artist moment, Gary Hume is an English author best known for his highly stylized pictorial depictions of everyday objects created with high-gloss industrial paint. Via his colorful and kitsch work that is one of the finest and mildest examples emerging from the oftentimes extreme arts of the YBA, Gary explores the dualities of our nature, investigating such notions as desire, repulsion, sexuality and innocence[1]. Hume’s art and its development was an interesting journey that saw him change many styles and subjects, starting with the minimalistic, abstract compositions and ending up with much more fluid, borderline lyrical images of animals and celebrities.

Hume's painting on view at home is a sign that art and time travel faster than news
Gary Hume – Bird Point III, 1998

Becoming a Young British Artist

Gary Hume was born during the year of 1962, in Tenterden, a town in the Ashford District of Kent, England. He attended Homewood School before he went to study at the Goldsmiths College, where he graduated in 1988. Gary’s early works were a part of two very important YBA exhibitions – The Freeze, a show organized by Damien Hirst in 1988, and East Country Yard, a warehouse exhibition organized by Henry Bond and Sarah Lucas in 1990. Soon, Hume became nationally known for his depictions of everyday subjects using high-gloss industrial paints that made his work truly stand out. His earliest notable series of artworks was the now iconic Door Paintings project[2]. These were life-size representations of hospital doors that were shown in England, Germany and the United States. Hume finally abandoned doors as a subject in the mid-1990s, turning to paintings in household gloss paint on aluminum panels. For these, Gary often used appropriated images, including the pictures of celebrities and animals.

Ironically, depicting everyday common elements and objects is what made Gary Hume and his great work truly stand out

Gary Hume - Blackbirds of Art Painting, 2008
Gary Hume – Blackbirds, 2008

Later Art and Related Paintings

Hume’s work was included in the 1995 exhibition Brilliant!, a showcase of works that paid tribute to the successes of the YBA. From around that point on, his forms and colors were dramatically simplified, with people being reduced to just two or three colors per the depicted individual. Initially, Hume used mainly bright colors but later turned towards much more muted tones. Gary’s Yellow Window (2002) was a genuine milestone for both the author and the British contemporary art history as it broke records when sold at auction at Christie’s[3]. Interestingly, Hume revisited his Door pictures in 2005 when he started arranging them into pairs of lovers and giving them the titles The Couple and The Argument. Besides his regular studio in London, this artist also maintains a second studio in a converted barn on the grounds of a former chicken farm in New York’s Catskill Mountains region. This alternative location offers the author with an abundance of different creative stimulates, as evidenced by Gary himself who stated the following concerning his New York studio: Where I live in New York, there’s a wood. I heard an owl in the night. Next day I found one of those “Happy Birthday” balloons caught in the trees. It had almost deflated. I imagined the owl, utterly indifferent, watching the balloon float by as it slowly collapsed. That’s how I see life. I’m the owl, totally disengaged as the balloon bobs.

Gary Hume is best known for his highly stylized pictorial depictions of everyday objects, celebrities and animals

Hirst made art paintings by having a view on hume's home work painting on time
Gary Hume – Love Love’s Unlovable, 1994

The Kitsch and Style of Gary Hume

The edge is the only thing that matters. I used to think of the areas of color as tectonic plates meeting, so in the paintings it’s like there are these molten plates that would hit each other and dry. I wanted one of those plates to be higher than the other, and I wanted the hit to be more abrupt.[4] This principle and approach to art making, as the artist explained himself, caused the simplified, reductive aesthetic that made Gary so important for the YBA moment. By exuberantly embracing kitsch and developing highly stylized aesthetics, Hume managed to make a compromise between representation and abstraction. For that reason, his vibrant color contrasts and flat, Pop-like compositions cemented this author’s name in the history of British contemporary art.

This artist is represented by White Cube Bermondsey London, Weng Contemporary, Galerie Fluegel-Roncak and White Cube Mason’s Yard London.

Gary Hume lives and works in Accord, New York, and London, United Kingdom.


  1. Batchelor, D., Hume, G., Gary Hume, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1999
  2. Bonami, F., Grevenstein, A. V., Gary Hume, Bonnefanten Museum, Netherlands, 1996
  3. Barrett, D., Gary Hume (New Art Up-close), Royal Jelly Factory, 2003
  4. Hickey, D., Hume, G., Douglas, C., Gary Hume: Flashback, Hayward Publishing, 2012

Featured image: Gary Hume – Photo of the artist – Image via
All images via

YearExhibition titleGallery/MuseumGroup/Solo
2017Against LandscapeThe Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, ScotlandGroup
2017Against LandscapeConiston Institute, Cumbria, ConistonGroup
2017A Certain Kind Of LightTowner, EastbourneGroup
20165 Years at Heddon Street Pippy Houldsworth, London Group
201635 Works On PaperBeers Contemporary, LondonGroup
2015After Picasso: 80 Contemporary ArtistsThe Ohio State University, Columbus, OHGroup
2015The Fantasy of RepresentationBeers Contemporary, LondonGroup
2014Gary Hume - Lions and UnicornsWhite Cube - São Paulo, São PauloSolo
2014Post Pop: East Meets WestThe Saatchi Gallery, London Group
2014The good, the bad and the uglyGesso Artspace, Vienna Group
2013Gary HumeTate Britain, LondonSolo
2013Liberty GripWhite Cube, LondonSolo
2013In Cloud CountryHarewood, Leeds, EnglandGroup
2012Gary HumeSprüth Magers, Berlin, GermanySolo
2012Anxiety and the HorseMatthew Marks Gallery, New York, USASolo
2012Gary Hume: FlashbackLeeds Art GallerySolo
2012Gary HumeWolverhampton Art GallerySolo
2012Gary HumeJerwood Gallery, Aberdeen ArtSolo
2012BeautyPinchuk Art Centre, Kiev, UkraineSolo
2012The Indifferent OwlWhite Cube, London, EnglandSolo
2012A House of LeavesSecond Movement, DRAF, London, EnglandGroup
2012Freedom not Genius: Works from Damien Hirst's Murderme CollectionPinacoteca Giovanni e Marella, Torino, ItalyGroup
2012RA NowRoyal Academy of Arts, London, EnglandGroup
2012AKA PEACEICA, London, EnglandGroup
2012Encounter: The Royal Academy Exhibition in Asia and Middle EastLasalle College of Art, SingaporeGroup
2012Cool BritanniaGallery Hyundai, KoreaGroup
2011Structure and AbsenceWhite Cube, London, EnglandGroup
2011SnapAldeburgh Festival, Suffolk, EnglandGroup
2010Bird In A FishtankSprüth Magers, Berlin, GermanySolo
2010New WorkNew Art Centre, Salisbury, EnglandSolo
2009YardworkMatthew Marks Gallery, New YorkSolo
2008Baby Birds and Things That Are Left BehindGalleria Lorcan O' Neill, Rome, ItalySolo
2008Art Is For The Spirit: From the UBS Art CollectionMori Art Museum, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2008Demons, Yarns and Tales: Tapestries by Contemporary ArtistsThe Dairy, London, EnglandGroup
2008SupernovaGlynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, WalesGroup
2008Door PaintingsModern Art, Oxford, EnglandSolo
2007American TanWhite Cube Mason’s Yard, London, EnglandSolo
2007Angels, Flowers and IconsHastings Museum and Art Gallery, Hastings, EnglandSolo
2007Aftershock: Contemporary British Art 1990-2006Capital Museum, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2006Aftershock: Contemporary British Art 1990-2006Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, ChinaGroup
2006Liquid: Gary Hume & Lynne Yiadom-BoakyeRoyal Academy schools, London, EnglandGroup
2006Cave PaintingsWhite Cube, London, EnglandSolo
2005CarnivalMatthew Marks Gallery, New York, USASolo
2005TranslationsThomas Dane, London, EnglandGroup
2005Summer Exhibition 2005Royal Academy, London, EnglandGroup
2005London Calling. Y[oung] B[ritish] A[rtists] Criss-CrossedGalleri Kaare Berntsen, Oslo, NorwayGroup
2005Bidibidobidiboo. La Collezione Sandretto Re RebaudengoPalazzo Re Rebaudengo, Piazza del Municipio, Guarene d’Alba, Torino, ItalyGroup
2005SupernovaBunkier Sztuki, KrakowGroup
2005SupernovaTallinn Kunstihoone, EstoniaGroup
2005SupernovaCAC, Vilnius; City Gallery, Prague Group
2005SupernovaJan Koniarek Gallery, Trnava, SlovakiaGroup
2005Contemporary British Art from the Paragon PressTaipei Museum of Fine Art, TaipeiGroup
2005Contemporary British Art from the Paragon PressUSM ABN AMRO Art and Culture Centre, PenangGroup
2005Contemporary British Art from the Paragon PressNational Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaGroup
2004CarnivalKestnergesellschaft, Hannover, GermanySolo
2004The Bird Has A Yellow BeakKunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, AustriaSolo
2004Paper Democracy. Contemporary Art in Editions on PaperEdifício Cultura Inglesa, São Paulo, BrazilGroup
2004The Flower As Image: From Monet to Jeff KoonsLouisiana Museum, DenmarkGroup
2004Printers Inc.: Recent British PrintsManchester Art Gallery, ManchesterGroup
2004Printers Inc.: Recent British PrintsBrewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre, TauntonGroup
2004Printers Inc.: Recent British PrintsPark Gallery, Falkirk, ScotlandGroup
2004Art of the GardenTate Britain, LondonGroup
2004Art of the GardenUlster Museum, BelfastGroup
2004Art of the GardenManchester Art Gallery, Manchester, EnglandGroup
2004In Print: Contemporary British Art from the Paragon PressSingapore Tyler Print Institute, SingaporeGroup
2004In Print: Contemporary British Art from the Paragon PressSabine Hahnloser Tscopp Collection, Bern, SwitzerlandGroup
2004Edge of the RealWhitechapel Art Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2003Gary HumeGalleria Massimo De Carlo, Milan, ItalySolo
2003Gary HumeMatthew Marks Gallery, New York, USASolo
2003Gary HumeIrish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, IrelandSolo
2003FRESH: Contemporary British Artists in PrintEdinburgh Printmakers, Edinburgh, ScotlandGroup
2003IndependenceSouth London Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2003Game OverGrimm Rosenfeld, Munich, GermanyGroup
2003Painting PicturesKunstmuseum Wolfsburg, GermanyGroup
2003In Print: Contemporary British Art from the Paragon Press International Graphic Arts Centre, LjubljanaGroup
2003In Print: Contemporary British Art from the Paragon Press Hakodate Museum, HakodateGroup
2003In Print: Contemporary British Art from the Paragon Press Marugame Museum of Contemporary Art, Marugame, JapanGroup
2003EdénLa Colección Jumex, Mexico City, MexicoGroup
2002Gary HumeWhite Cube, London, EnglandSolo
2002Summer ExhibitionRoyal Academy of Arts, London, EnglandGroup
2002Remix: Contemporary Art and PopTate Liverpool, Liverpool, EnglandGroup
2002The Rowan Collection. Contemporary British & Irish ArtIrish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, IrelandGroup
2002In Print: Contemporary British Art from the Paragon PressArt Pavilion Cvijeta Zuzoric, BelgradeGroup
2002In Print: Contemporary British Art from the Paragon PressMuseum of Fine Arts, Yaroslavl Group
2002In Print: Contemporary British Art from the Paragon PressThe Urals Museum of Youth, YekaterinburgGroup
2002In Print: Contemporary British Art from the Paragon PressCentre of Graphics and Printmaking and Akhmatova Museum, St PetersburgGroup
2002In Print: Contemporary British Art from the Paragon PressFine Art Gallery, NovosibirskGroup
2002In Print: Contemporary British Art from the Paragon PressMuseum of Art, Tel-Aviv, IsraelGroup
2002Painting on the MoveKunsthalle Basel, Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
2001Printers Inc.The Gallery, Stratford-upon-Avon, EnglandGroup
2001Update #2: Elizabeth Peyton, Gary HumeKunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, GermanyGroup
200110th Anniversary Exhibition, 100 drawings and PhotographsMatthew Marks Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2001The Colony Room Club 2001. A Space OddityA22 Projects, London, EnglandGroup
2001SpyMonika Sprüth Gallery, Cologne, GermanyGroup
2001Gary HumeMatthew Marks Gallery, New York, USASolo
2001Summer Exhibition 2001Royal Academy of Arts, London, EnglandGroup
2001Sur faceLunds Konsthall, SwedenGroup
2001Beautiful Productions. Art to play, art to wear, art to ownWhitechapel, London, EnglandGroup
2001Camera Works. The Phographic Impulse in Contemporary ArtMarianne Boesky Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2001Public OfferingsMuseum of Contemporary Arts, Los Angeles, USAGroup
2001Century CityTate Modern, London, EnglandGroup
2001Heads and HandsDecatur House Museum, Washington, D.C. Group
2000Gary HumeFundació “la Caixa”, Barcelona, SpainSolo
2000Gary HumeCultugest, UMA Casa de Mundo, Lisbon, PortugalSolo
2000Seven Print Projects from The Paragon PressGimpel Fils, London, EnglandGroup
2000Painting the Century: 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900-2000National Portrait Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2000Update #2: Elizabeth Peyton, Gary HumeKunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, GermanyGroup
2000Out ThereWhite Cube², Hoxton, London, EnglandGroup
2000Suite Substitute IV: Beautiful StrangersHotel du Rhone, Genève, SwitzerlandGroup
2000Ant NoisesSaatchi Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2000Sincerely yours. British art from the 90sAstrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, NorwayGroup