Oliver Herring is a German-born contemporary artist who uses experimental techniques with the intention of better understanding human nature, individual behavior, and interpersonal dynamics. Herring works in a wide range of media including sculpture, knitting, photography, paintings, and video. He received his BFA from the University of Oxford, Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford, England in 1988, and his MFA from Hunter College, New York in 1991.
Throughout the 1990s, Herring became known for hand-knit Mylar and tape sculptures. These ethereal sculptures, which evoke introspection, mortality, and memory, are Herring’s homage to Ethyl Eichelberger, a drag performance artist who committed suicide in 1991. That project lasted ten years, and revolved around marking time through the accumulation of incremental stitched units. In the late 1990s his practice expanded to include improvised stop-motion videos and performances that at first involved friends and eventually strangers on the street. These interactive works were counterpoints to the more stationary and solitary work practice of knitting. Herring knit the transparent tape into colorless human figures, clothing and furniture. When they were on display, he chose the Mylar clothing to be hung or placed in a way that it looks like the shape they would be if worn.
Since 1998 Herring has focused primarily on brief, yet intensive, collaborative encounters with volunteer participants. Herring directs and documents open-ended performances, usually involving a series of actions, which take place in different environments, including gallery or museum spaces, private homes, municipal buildings, and educational facilities, and feature groups of strangers interacting with each another. The resulting stop motion videos and photographs that Herring creates not only record these impromptu activities, but reveal the poignancy implicit in humanity when strangers expose their vulnerabilities and embrace trust.
Many of Herring’s videos were primarily stop motion. Stop motion or stop frame is an animation technique that make a physically manipulated object or person appear to move on its own. Example of this kind of Herring’s works is piece titled “Exit” made in 2000. The work shows the artist sleeping in his chair, which then flies around the room, and through stop motion culminates in a whimsical and surreal dance number with multiple Herrings and other characters.
Herring’s photo-sculptures are the product of an intimate artist-model interaction in which he systematically photographs every part of their body and then applies the resultant prints in fragments with utmost detail to a proportionally sculpted human form, in a process that takes many work sessions. “Gloria”, one of his most famous sculptures, is of a girl leaning against a wall in a colorful flower dress holding her necklace. Herring took pictures from every angle of her and then cut and pasted them on the base to form the sculpture.
In 2002 Herring created the improvisatory art event TASK, an ongoing series of events, workshops and parties in which participants of all ages and demographics collectively dream up instructions and carry them out with the materials provided. Herring held the first event in London. Subsequent events have been held among other places in Washington, DC, Toronto, Seattle, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, California, often partnering with local art museums. Increasingly, TASK is becoming a tool in classrooms and communities to access contemporary art in a way that is experimental, open-ended, and accessible to anyone.
Herring’s ongoing project, Areas for Action, is a concept for an accumulative exhibition consisting of daily performances, improvisatory sculptures, and real-time collaborative artworks created on-site utilizing a variety of materials—glitter, tape, body paint, tin foil, food dye, and photo cut-outs. Taking its title from the artist’s utilization of the gallery space, Areas for Action divides the exhibition and performance spaces into discrete areas for specific interventions and actions. Each day a new group of volunteers joins Herring as he directs and documents these performances. Areas for Action sought to remove boundaries between time-based and non-time based artwork, between new media and physical art objects, and between viewers and participants. The creative process becomes a site of vulnerability and risk-taking, a social experiment, and an open laboratory for innovative modes of representation.
Oliver Herring is based in Brooklyn, New York.
|Year||Name of the exhibition||Museum/Gallery||Solo/Group|
|2015||Oliver Herring||Visual Arts Center – Washington Pavillion, Sioux Falls, SD||Solo|
|2015||Areas for Action: Houston||DiverseWorks, Houston, TX||Solo|
|2014||DAM TASK||Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO||Solo|
|2014||Oliver Herring: Videos 2002-2009||Denver Art Museum, CO||Solo|
|2014||Madison Square Park TASK||Madison Square Park, New York, NY||Solo|
|2014||Oliver Herring||Telescope, Beijing, China||Solo|
|2014||Oliver Herring||A4 Contemporary Art Center, Chengdu, China||Solo|
|2014||Dance like nobody’s watching||Rhubaba Gallery and Studios, Edinburgh, Scotland||Group|
|2014||Forced Collaboration 2||Artspace, New Haven, CT||Group|
|2014||Eleven: The John Erickson Museum of Art (JEMA) 10-year Retrospective||Bob Rauschenberg Gallery, Fort Myers, FL||Group|
|2013||Oliver Herring: Works and Documentation from Areas for Action||Focus Gallery, University ofFlorida, Gainesville, FL||Solo|
|2013||Material World||Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO||Group|
|2012||Oliver Herring: Emi, Nabe, Kohei, Asako, Yoshitaka, Yohei, Yuma, Hiroki…||Kyoto Art Center,Kyoto, Japan||Solo|
|2012||Contemporary Art Wing Reopening||Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland||Group|
|2011||St. Louis TASK Party||Gallery 210 of University of Missouri, October||Solo|
|2011||Universe City||CSULA Fine Arts Gallery, Los Angeles||Group|
|2010||Areas for Action||Meulensteen, New York||Solo|
|2010||UNC TASK||Gerrard Hill, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC||Solo|
|2010||ISU TASK||University of Illinois, Normal, IL||Solo|
|2010||The Logic of Paper: American Works of Paper||He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China||Group|
|2009||Oliver Herring: Southern Studios||Frist Center for Visual Arts, Nashville, TN||Solo|
|2009||The Spectacle of the Everyday||Xth Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art, Lyon, France||Group|
|2008||Oliver Herring: Basic||The Art Gallery at University of Maryland, College Park, MD||Solo|
|2008||Alternating Beats||Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI||Group|
|2007||Oliver Herring||Max Protetch Gallery, New York||Solo|
|2007||BoysCraft||Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, Israel||Group|
|2006||Oliver Herring: Spit Reverse||Franklin Art Works, Minneapolis, MN||Solo|
|2006||New Now Next: The Contemporary Blanton||The Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, Austin||Group|
|2005||Taking and Making||Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA||Solo|
|2005||Six Laws of Motion||Max Protetch Gallery, New York||Group|
|2004||Oliver Herring: New Works 04.1||Art Pace, San Antonio, TX||Solo|
|2004||Art on Paper 2004||Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC||Group|
|2003||Oliver Herring: New Work||Galeria Leyendecker, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Island, Spain||Solo|
|2003||Hands to Work – Mind to God||Borusan Sanat Galerisi, Istanbul, Turkey||Group|
|2002||Spit Reverse||Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, Palm Beach, FL||Solo|
|2002||Sugar & Cream: Wall Hangings by Contemporary Artists||Triple Candie, New York||Group|
|2001||Oliver Herring: Sleepless Nights||Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art [Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland], Cleveland, OH||Solo|
|2001||Let’s Get to Work||Susquehanna Art Museum, Harrisburg, PA||Group|
|2000||Ethereal and Material||Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE||Group|
|1999||Oliver Herring||Max Protetch Gallery, New York||Solo|
|1999||Regarding Beauty: A View of the Late 20th Century||Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian, Washington, D.C||Group|
|1998||Growing Obsession||Dorsky Gallery, New York||Group|
|1997||Oliver Herring: New Work||Max Protetch Gallery, New York||Solo|
|1997||Light Catchers||Usdan Gallery, Bennington College, VT||Group|
|1996||One Day||Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York||Solo|
|1996||Disappeared||Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago||Group|
|1995||Coexistence: Construction in Process V||Artists' Museum, Mitzpe Ramon, Israel||Group|
|1994||A Flower for Ethyl Eichelberger—An Ongoing Project||Bernard Toale Gallery, Boston, MA||Solo|
|1994||Athena and Arachne||Apex Art, New York||Group|
|1993||A Flower for Ethyl Eichelberger – An Ongoing Project and Bedding||Mannheimer Kunstverein, Mannheim, Germany||Solo|
|1993||Ciphers Of Identity||Fine Arts Gallery at University of Maryland Baltimore County, Catonsville, Maryland||Group|
|1992||Art at the Anchorage||The Anchorage, Brooklyn, NY||Group|
|1989||Oliver Herring and Peter Krashes||Atwood Gallery, Worcester, MA||Group|
|1988||Unknown||Pit Rivers Museum, Oxford, France||Group|
|1986||Unknown||Deutsche Bank AG, Frankfurt, Germany||Group|