Sam Durant

United States 1961


Sam Durant
Sam Durant
United States
January 30, 2017
Andreja Velimirović is a passionate content writer with a knack for art and old movies. Majoring in art history, he is an expert on avant-garde modern movements and medieval church fresco decorations. Feel free to contact him via his Linkedin profile:

The focal point of the art Sam Durant produces seems to be generating new visualizations of what has become accepted or neglected as part of history. Through his varied installations and sculptures, this American artist explores the political[1] dimensions of different historical or cultural events[2], including the likes of several student riots, the Kent State massacre, the Civil Rights movement, international trade relationships and the struggles between Native Americans and colonizing settlers. The ever-growing range of subjects Sam Durant focuses on is hard to keep a track on for an amateur, but this author is somehow able to keep it all together and make it work despite the vast scope of his artworks. He loves combining different techniques and disciplines in order to make the kinds of results he desires – amongst more conventional creative tools, Durant also regularly operates with ceramic, fabricated globes, printed matter, interactive websites and photography. And out of all those different artistic approaches, Sam has displayed a special inclination towards public monuments which have managed to keep his persisting interest for decades now.

Sam Durant - Installation view at Blum & Poe Museum - Image via blumandpoecom
Sam Durant – Installation view at Blum & Poe – Image via

The Historical Aspect of Sam Durant and His Art

Sam Durant was born during the year of 1986, in the city of Seattle, United States. Although much of his work had to be learned in some other fashion, many of things he displayed over the course of his career were learned at the Massachusetts College of Art and California Institute of the Arts where Sam earned a BFA in sculpture and an MFA, respectably. However, studying at these fine institutions has provided the artist with a strong understanding of how to think outside of the box and how to use artistic expressions to their maximums. Right from the start of his career, Durant showed that he wanted to create multimedia artworks that engage a variety of social, political and cultural issues not only restricted to the USA soil. As it remained the case to this day, he would often reference events from history in order to put the entire piece in a certain context and make sure that the viewers would engage the art from a certain desired perspective. Besides the aforementioned topics we spoke about in the opening paragraph, Sam also explored themes[3] such as the varying relationships between culture and politics, southern rock music scene and how modernism shaped the world we know. A lot of Durant’s artworks from the 1990s was heavily inspired by the art of Robert Smithson, a fellow artist well known for his shared interest in history and entropy. Besides his artistic practices, Durant also cofounded an organization called Transforma – a New Orleans group devoted to a cultural rebuilding.

Sam Durant - A Proposal for a Museum Public Fountain - Image via sadiecolescom
Sam Durant – A Proposal for a Public Fountain – Image via

Projects and Recognitions

Due to the intriguing concepts and topics, it’s no wonder that Durant was a regular sensation with his exhibitions regardless from where they were held. For example, his 2005 exhibition at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York titled as Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions, Washington D.C. presented the public with a thirty Indian massacre monuments based on the similarities to the massive obelisk Washington monument. Unsurprisingly, this show attracted a lot of attention and it caused many discussions as people were raving about it for weeks. Durant’s art has been widely exhibited internationally and in the United States. His works were a part of shows organized at such prestigious institutions as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen in Düsseldorf, S.M.A.K. in Ghent and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand. Furthermore, Sam’s pieces were included in a number of Biennials – the one in Panamá, Sydney, Venice and the Whitney Biennial. Artworks produced by Durant also made their way into a few prominent collections, such as the ones at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth, Tate Modern in London, Project Row Houses in Houston and the legendary Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2006, Sam compiled and edited a comprehensive monograph of the Black Panther artist Emory Douglas’ practices. His art has been extensively written about including seven monographic catalogs and books which were all sold quite well. It should also be noted that Sam Durant was the receiver of the United States Artists Broad Fellowship and a City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Grant.

Sam Durant made an art practice out of exploring the political dimensions of different historical and cultural events

Paula Project institute and York Arts museum serve as home to many valuable arts
Sam Durant – Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions – Image via

Smiles and Terrors

One of the most exciting aspects of Durant’s projects that we believe makes him so unique and seducing is the fact his work is capable of simultaneously being severely critical and utterly playful without compromising either of the two[4]. This ability to pack both a strong and sharp punch alongside a note of laughter seems to strike the audience severely as the combination of smiling and realizing harsh truths presents a unique experience to an average viewer. Such a feature of Durant’s work has been heavily reflected on his overall success as an artist, as evidenced by a constant interest in everything that has Sam’s name on it. In a sense, this American author has reached the very maximum of what these kinds of installation pieces can offer to the curious and somewhat unprepared eyes – a chance to be fascinated, intrigued, amused and ultimately faced with something unknown regardless of how frightening or direct the newly realized truth might be.

Sam Durant lives and works in Los Angeles, California, The United States.


  1. Freeman, N., Basel-Goers Greeted by Giant Sam Durant Proclaiming ‘End White Supremacy’ at Blum & Poe’s Booth, Art News, 30th November, 2016
  2. Young, K., Darling, M., Kulenkampff, G., Strick, J., Durant, S., Kersting, R., Sam Durant, Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2003
  3. Durant, S., The Meeting House: Sam Durant, Black Dog Publishing, 2017
  4. Cooper, A., 23 Questions for History-Inspired Artist Sam Durant, Art News, September 08, 2014

Featured image: Sam Durant – A Piece in fron of the Sydney Opera House as part of the 2008 Biennale – Image via
All images courtesy of the artist.

YearExhibition Titlegallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017Sam Durant: Build Therefore Your Own WorldBlum & Poe, Los Angeles, CASolo
2017L.A. Exuberance: New Gifts by ArtistsLos Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, CA Group
2016Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary ArtNasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC Group
2016Printemps de l'Art Contemporain 2016Marseille expos, réseau des galeries et lieux d’art contemporain, Marseille Group
2016Drawing Dialogues: Selections from the Sol LeWitt CollectionThe Drawing Center, New York City, NY Group
2016Drawing Dialogues Selections from the Sol LeWitt CollectionThe Drawing Center, New York City, NY Group
2016Close Readings: American Abstract Art From The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts GalleryCohen Memorial Hall , Nashville, TN Group
2016The Natural Order of ThingsMuseo Jumex, Mexico City Group
2015Sam Durant: Borrowed SceneryBlum & Poe, Tokyo Solo
2015Sam DurantGalerie Vedovi, Brussels Solo
2015Sam Durant: Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions, Washington, DCKemper Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO Solo
2015When Artists Speak TruthThe 8th Floor, New York City, NY Group
2015Station to StationBarbican Art Gallery, London Group
2015America Is Hard to SeeWhitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NY Group
2015A Voice RemainsPippy Houldsworth, London Group
2015Dissloving MarginPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2014Sam DurantPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2014Sam Durant: Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions, Washington, D.C.Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA Solo
2014Passions secretesTri Postal, Lille Group
2014Lo Clásico en el ArteFundación PROA, Buenos Aires Group
2014Mound CityLaumeier Sculpture Park, Saint Louis, MO Group
2014if I can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolutionHaverford College, Haverford, PA Group
2014Personal choice: CollectorsGarage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow Group
2013Sam Durant: Proposal for Public FountainSadie Coles HQ, London Solo
2013Sam Durant. La Stessa StoriaMACRO Museo d´Arte Contemporanea Roma, Rome Solo
2013Winter ShowVan de Weghe Fine Art, New York City, NY Group
2013beerThe Green Gallery East, Milwaukee, WI Group
2013A Marginal RevolutionKUAD GALLERY, Istanbul Group
2013The Present Order is the Disorder of the FutureMuseum Kurhaus Kleve, Kleve Group
2013Living as Form (The Nomadic Version)TheCube Project Space, Taipei Group
2013The Hunter And The FactoryFundación Jumex, Mexico City Group
2012Seuls quelques fragments de nous toucheront quelques fragments d’autruiGalerie Thaddaeus RopacGroup
2012Eight Sculptors 2012Paula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2012Stem Terug! Vote Back!de Appel arts centre, Amsterdam Group
2012When Does Something Become Something Else?Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN Group
2012Animal SpiritsDESTE Project Space Slaughterhouse Hydra, Hydra Group
2012Drawn from PhotographyDePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL Group
2012Documenta (13)Documenta, Kassel Group
2012SweetheartsPippy Houldsworth, London Group
2012Spelling The ImageMarc Jancou Contemporary, New York City, NY Group
2012Shake 'n' Bake, A Group ShowGalerie Praz-Delavallade, Paris Group
2012Postcards From the Edge. 14th annualCheim & Read, New York City, NY Group
2011Sam DurantFranco Soffiantino Gallery, Turin Solo
2011Sam DurantGalerie Praz-Delavallade, Paris Solo
2011Sam DurantBlum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA Solo
2011The Walls That Divide UsApexart, New York City, NY Group
2011Da Cartografia do Poder aos Itinerários do SaberMuseu da Ciência, Coimbra Group
2011Agitated HistoriesSite Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM Group
2011CollectorTri Postal, Lille Group
2011The Object of ObservationJohnen Galerie, Berlin Group
2011PiecesKerstin Engholm Galerie, Vienna Group
2011LocationsPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2011The Smithson EffectUtah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, UT Group
2011Drawn from PhotographyThe Drawing Center, New York City, NY Group
2011Stargazers: Elizabeth Catlett in Conversation with 21 Contemporary ArtistsBronx Museum of the Arts (BxMA), New York City, NY Group
2011L'Insoutenable légèreté de l'êtreYvon Lambert, Paris Group
2010Sam Durant: History Never Ends, I Hate to Bother YouSadie Coles HQ, London Solo
2010Sam Durant: Dead Labor DayPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2010Inquiring Eyes: Greensboro Collects ArtThe University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC Group
2010KurtSeattle Art Museum, Seattle, WAGroup
2009Sam Durant: This is freedom?Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA Solo
2008Sam Durant: End White SupremacyPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2008Sam DurantGalerie Praz-Delavallade, Paris Solo
2007Sam DurantSadie Coles HQ, London Solo
2007Sam DurantPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2007Sam DurantCatriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver, BC Solo
2007Sam Durant: Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and MonumentsBlum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA Solo
2006Sam DurantGalleria Emi Fontana, Milan Solo
2005Sam DurantPaula Cooper Gallery, New York City, NY Solo
2005Sam DurantGalerie Praz-DelavalladeSolo
2005Color PicturesCatriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver, BC Solo
2004Sam Durant: InvolvedBlum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA Solo
2004Sam Durant: We Are All Outlaws in the Eyes of AmerikaGalleria Emi Fontana, Milan Solo
2003SAM DURANTUnion Gallery, London Solo
2003Sam DurantKunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, DusseldorfSolo
2002Sam DurantMOCA Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA Solo
2002Sam Durant: Color PicturesBlum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA Solo
2002Sam DurantInstitute of Visual Arts, Milwaukee, WI Solo
2002Sam Durant: Matrix 147The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT Solo
2000Sam DurantTomio Koyama GallerySolo
2000Sam Durant: Proposal For Monument In Friendship Park, Jacksonville, FloridaBlum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA Solo
1999Sam Durant : Into the blackGalerie Kapinos, Berlin Solo
1999Sam Durant: AltamontBlum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA Solo
1997Sam Durant: Mdf, Particle Board, Projection, Confusion, Grid-like StructuringBlum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA Solo
1995Sam DurantBlum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA Solo