Tim Hawkinson

Tim Hawkinson

United States 1960

Sculpture, Kinetic Art

Tim Hawkinson
Tim Hawkinson
United States
August 26, 2013

Known primarily for his large-scale kinetic and sound-producing works such as the monumental Überorgan, Tim Hawkinson is an American contemporary artist, working in sculpture, painting, photography, drawing, or printmaking. His art is the sort of intense, highly personal and often self-referential work that manages through humor and sheer obsessive force to be both accessible and awe-inspiring. Often a bit grotesque, his works flirt with the sublime often enough that it really is worthy of multiple viewings. It may come as a surprise, considering the pieces at first appear to be cheap jokes. Whether he’s making bird skeleton from his own fingernail parings, a latex cast of his body inflated with air, and clocks fashioned from a Coke can, a manila envelope and a toothpaste tube – Tim Hawkinson will prove a revelation to all those interested in contemporary art.[1]

hawkinson's past use 2003 Francisco California time search to create view policy terms and privacy
Tim Hawkinson – Rubber Band Sculpture, 2016 – image courtesy of Hosfelt Gallery

Tim Hawkinson – Biography, Exhibitions, Collections

Born in San Francisco in a middle-class home to parents who were antique dealers, Tim Hawkinson grew up during the rise of post-modern art. He graduated from San Jose State University before earning his MFA from UCLA in 1989. Studying under Charles Ray, who focused on questions of identity with his sculptures and moved from medium to medium in a quest to represent his questions about self and its relation to others, was a major inspiration to the artist. He was particularly intrigued by his mentor’s detachment from the comfort of working with a particular medium. Hawkinson’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at various international venues. One of his most recent shows was titled Counterclockwise (2016) and was held at the Pace Gallery in New York.

In 2005, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art hosted a major mid-career retrospective of the artist’s work. He has also participated in significant group exhibitions, including Fantasy Underfoot: The 47th Biennial Exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2003); the Whitney Biennial (2002); and the Venice Biennale (1999). His work is held in numerous prestigious public collections, among them the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. In 2015, he was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for Fine Art, which recognizes artists who have demonstrated exceptional creative ability in the arts.

One of his most recent shows was titled Counterclockwise and was held at the Pace Gallery

hawkinson's past home use california world to create terms of policy and privacy view in 2003
Tim Hawkinson – Thumbsucker, 2015 – photo credits Gene Ogami, courtesy of Hosfelt Gallery

Hawkinson’s Art: a Diversity of Media

Encompassing a diverse range of media – including sculpture, installation, painting, photography and collage, his practice is grounded in experimentation, exploration, and maybe more than anything, his art celebrates the process and materiality of the work itself.[2] Speaking of works, the artist takes common, everyday materials out of context, reinterpreting them into new and different forms. His unexpected adaptations prompt new ways of seeing the world around us. In line with his commitment to using readily accessible materials, the artist often returns to his own body as a base in the creation of forms or as a point of reference. In Tagalong (2013), resin imprints of Hawkinson’s knuckles, knees, and elbows abstract elements of his body, reimagining them into the plates of a four-foot tall seahorse. Yet, he sometimes goes so far that he no longer recognizes himself in the work. Constantly in pursuit of new processes and working methods, Hawkinson’s kinetic sculptures are driven by an unbridled sense of inventiveness and improvisation, with results that are unlikely, playful, witty and mechanically complex. Also intrigued by the sound (as shown in his arguably most famous piece so far – the Überorgan), the artist’s sound machines turn banal objects into unpredictable anthropomorphic arrangements, displaying his ingenuity and interest in sensory experiences.

Tim Hawkinson takes common, everyday materials out of context, reinterpreting them into new and different forms

search for time contact in Los Angeles
Tim Hawkinson – Ruffle, 2009 (Left) / Tagalong, 2013 (Right) – image courtesy of Pace Gallery

The Art of Identity

Hiding true meaning of his work behind somewhat grotesque appearance but always emphasizing what he finds important, Hawkinson is comparable to the likes of Charles Ray, Tom Friedman and Mike Kelley. Working at a very high level for more than two decades, he is certainly becoming one of the giants of contemporary art. Besides being fascinated with notation and music, it seems that the artist is constantly returning to the ideas of re-imagining of his own body and what it means to make a self-portrait of this new or fictionalized body. The question of identity permeates his oeuvre, as he uses some found materials and reworks things cleverly and beautifully, eventually questioning what his viewers truly see in front of them. In short – conceptual, material, fresh.

Tim Hawkinson lives and works in Los Angeles.


  1. Rinder L., Tim Hawkinson, Whitney Museum (2005)
  2. Erickson S., Tim Hawkinson, nyehaus/foundation 20 21 (2007)

Featured image: Portrait of the artist – photo credits Samantha Nandez, courtesy of BFA and Pace Gallery

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Garden VarietyHosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2016CounterclockwisePace Gallery, New York, NYSolo
201620th Anniversary ExhibitionHosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2016Particle and WaveHosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2016Embracing the Contemporary: The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs CollectionPhiladelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PAGroup
2015Over the Water: Tim HawkinsonExploratorium, San Francisco, CASolo
2015Back to the RealDavid B. Smith Gallery, Denver, COGroup
2015EurekaPace Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2014CinderellaSky Art Museum, Seoul, KoreaGroup
2014In the RoundPace Gallery, 32 East 57th Street, New York, NYGroup
2014Holding It Together: Collage, Montage, AssemblageHosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2014Connecting Sound Etc. Cable Works, Cable Sounds, Cables EverywhereFreiraum Quartier21 International, Museumsquartier Wien, ViennaGroup
2014Unsparing QualityDiane Rosenstein Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA Group
2014GroundedPace Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2013Tim HawkinsonPace Gallery, New York, NY Solo
2013Centennial of the Department of Art at San Jose State UniversityNatalie and James Thompson Art Gallery, San Jose State University, CAGroup
20130 to 60: The Experience of Time through Contemporary ArtOrganized by North Carolina Museum of Art and Penland School of Crafts. Traveled to: North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NCGroup
2013Call of the WildHosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2013Labor and WaitSanta Barbara Museum of Art, CA Group
2013Transposition: Motion is ActionNational Art Museum of China, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2012Look Both WaysHosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2012Semi-PermeableHosfelt Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2012Death and Life of an Object: Lynn Aldrich, Laurie Frick and Tim HawkinsonEdward Cella Art and Architecture, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2011Soft MachinesThe Pace Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2011Broodwork: It’s About TimeBen Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2010One Man BandThe Pace Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2010Tim HawkinsonBlum & Poe, Los Angeles, CASolo
2010Divine ComedySotheby’s, New York, NY Group
2010The Artist’s Museum: Los Angeles Artists, 1980–2010Geffen Contemporary at the Museum Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CAGroup
201050 Years at PaceThe Pace Gallery, New York, NY Group
2010Retro-TechSan Jose Museum of Art, CAGroup
2010Look AgainSoutheastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NCGroup
2010A Sense of HumorJohn Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WIGroup
2010SkinWellcome Collection, London, EnglandGroup
2010Dead or AliveMuseum of Arts and Design, New York, NYGroup
2010Size DOES MatterFlag Art Foundation, New York, NYGroup
2009Tim HawkinsonPaceWildenstein, New York, NYSolo
2009California MaximalismNyehaus, New York, NYGroup
200915th Anniversary Inaugural ExhibitionBlum & Poe, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2009Art and Electronic MediaBitforms Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2009I.D.: Individual DemographicsGreg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WAGroup
2008Tim HawkinsonGow Langsford Gallery, Auckland, New ZealandSolo
2008The Way Things GoSusan Inglett Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2008Group ShowL.A. Louver, Venice, CAGroup
2008XXIc: Exhibition 3 XXIst Century ManThe Miyake Foundation, 21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo, JapanGroup
2008Carl Andre - Tim HawkinsonArizona State University Museum, Tempe, AZGroup
2007Tim Hawkinson: Mapping the MarvelousMuseum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, AustraliaSolo
2007How Man is KnitPaceWildenstein, New York, NY Solo
2007Tim HawkinsonNyehaus, New York, NY Solo
2007Zoopsia: New Works by Tim HawkinsonThe J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CASolo
2007All for Art! Great Private Collections Among UsMusee des beaux-arts de Montreal, Canada Group
2007Skin of-in Contemporary ArtNational Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan Group
2007EnsembleInstitute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PAGroup
2007Fractured Figure: Works from the Dakis Joannou CollectionDeste Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens, GreeceGroup
2007From Africa to AmericaAllen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, OHGroup
2007Light Time and Three DimensionsPaceWildenstein, New York, NYGroup
2007Not For SaleP.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NYGroup
2006HeadsPescali & Sprovieri, London, EnglandGroup
2006SwellNew York Center for Art and Media Studies, New York, NYGroup
2006EgoMANIAGalleria Civica di Modena, ItalyGroup
2005Tim HawkinsonAce Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
2005An Empty Space: Tim HawkinsonAkira Ikeda Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2005Tim Hawkinson: Uberorgan590 Madison Avenue, New York, NYSolo
2005Tim HawkinsonWhitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; traveled to Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CASolo
2005Summer group showPaceWildenstein, New York, NYGroup
2005A.B. NormalNyehaus, New York, NYGroup
2005Laguna’s Hidden Treasures: Art from Private CollectionsLaguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CAGroup
2005Logical Conclusions: 40 Years of Rule-Based ArtPaceWildenstein, New York, NY Group
2005Material MattersHerbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY Group
2004Tim HawkinsonAkira Ikeda Gallery, Berlin, GermanySolo
2003We Are ElectricDeitch Projects, New York, NYGroup
2002Tim Hawkinson: UberorganAce Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2002Fantasy Underfoot: The 47th Biennial ExhibitionCorcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Group
20022002 Biennial ExhibitionWhitney Museum of American Art, New York, NYGroup
2001Directions: Tim HawkinsonHirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.Solo
2001The Americans: New ArtBarbican Gallery, London, England Group
2001Chain Reaction: Rube Goldberg and Contemporary ArtWilliams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA; traveled to Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NYGroup
2001ClenchclutchflinchPaul Rodgers-9W, New York, NY Group
2001Un Art PopulaireFondation Cartier Pour L’Art Contemporain, Paris, FranceGroup
2000Tim HawkinsonMiyake Design Studio, Tokyo, JapanSolo
2000PentecostAce Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CASolo
2000New WorkWhite Cube, London, England Solo
2000Tim HawkinsonPower Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, Canada Solo
2000Tim Hawkinson: UberorganMassachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MASolo
2000American BricolageSperone Westwater, New York, NY Group
2000Hand-Made in the USASprovieri Gallery, London, EnglandGroup
2000Arte AmericanaUltimo Decennio, Ravenna, ItalyGroup
2000The Greenhouse EffectSerpentine Gallery, London, England Group
1999Tim Hawkinson: New WorksAkira Ikeda Gallery, AIG Exhibition - Taura, JapanSolo
1999Art of the MachineAce Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1999Group exhibitionLos Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1999PersonaGalerie Carousel, Paris, FranceGroup
1999Head to Toe: Impressing the BodyUniversity Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MAGroup
1999Dreaming III: Contemporary American Art and Old Japanese CeramicsAkira Ikeda Gallery, New York, NYGroup
199948th Venice BiennaleVenice, Italy Group
1999Zero-G: When Gravity Becomes FormWhitney Museum of American Art at Champion, Stamford, CTGroup
1998Pneumatic Quilt collaboration with Issey MiyakeAce Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CASolo
1998Tim HawkinsonGalleria Milleventi, Milan, ItalySolo
1998Issey Miyake: Making ThingsFondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, FranceGroup
1998Deep ThoughtBasilico Fine Art, New York, NYGroup
1998Etre NatureFondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, FranceGroup
1997Secret SyncGallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA; traveled to Ace Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CASolo
1997Yard SaleSpecial K Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1997CA 90001-185W139, Amsterdam, The NetherlandsGroup
1997Identity Crisis: Self-Portraiture at the End of the CenturyMilwaukee Art Museum, WI; traveled to: Aspen Art Museum, CO Group
1996Tim HawkinsonAce Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CASolo
1996Humongolous: Sculpture and Other Works by Tim HawkinsonAkron Art Museum, Ohio; traveled to: Center for the Arts, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco, CA; Arnoff Center for the Arts, Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery, Cincinnati and Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC; John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WISolo
1996Tim Hawkinson: Ahi IkmnostwArmory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CASolo
1996Be SpecificRosamund Felsen Gallery, Santa Monica, CAGroup
1996First PersonMarc Foxx Gallery, Santa Monica, CAGroup
1996Shirts and Skins: AbsencePresence in Contemporary Art, Contemporary Art Museum, Honolulu, HIGroup
1996The Scream: Borealis 8Arken Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, DenmarkGroup
1996The Empowered ObjectHunsaker-Schlesinger Fine Art, Santa Monica, CAGroup
1996Narcissism: Artists Reflect ThemselvesCalifornia Center for the Arts Museum, Escondido, CA Group
1995Tim HawkinsonAce Gallery, New York, NYSolo
1995Veered ScienceHuntington Beach Art Center, California, CA Group
1995California in Three DimensionsCalifornia Center for the Arts Museum, Escondido, CAGroup
1995Beyond 15 MinutesCheney Cowles Museum, Spokane, WA Group
1994Tim HawkinsonGuggenheim Gallery, Chapman University, Orange, CA Solo
1994Current AbstractionsLos Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1994In the BlackIrvine Fine Arts Center, CA Group
1994Hooked on a FeelingKohn Turner Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1994This is My BodyGreg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WAGroup
1993Tim HawkinsonAce Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CASolo
1992Imperfect OrderIrvine Fine Arts Center, CAGroup
1991Tim HawkinsonAnders Tornberg Gallery, Lund, Sweden Solo
1991Evocative ObjectsCalifornia State University, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1990Tim HawkinsonAce Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CASolo
1990Group exhibitionMichael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1990Lead & WaxStephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
1989Modern ObjectsRichard-Bennett Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1989Self-EvidenceAce Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1988Tim Hawkinson: ObjectsAce Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CASolo
1988ExcavationsOtis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1988Group exhibitionCurt Marcus Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1988Profound VisionsAce Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1987LivestockLos Angeles, CAGroup
1987Two Person ExhibitionVorpal Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
1987Young American Artists VMandeville Gallery, University of California, San Diego, CAGroup
1986Abstract Dimensional PaintingRichmond Art Center, VAGroup
1986All-California 86: On a Small ScaleLaguna Art Museum, CAGroup
1985Tim HawkinsonBrunswick Gallery, Missoula, MTSolo
1985Coming AttractionsSan Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, CAGroup
1985New Art in the WestVorpal Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
1985Paint in SpaceMain Gallery, San Jose State University, CAGroup
1984Tim HawkinsonGallery 6, San Jose State University, San Jose, CASolo
1984Painted, Tinted, Tainted SculptureSan Jose Museum of Art, CAGroup
1983Painted ConstructionsMain Gallery, San Jose State University, CAGroup
1982Tim HawkinsonFreight Door Gallery, Santa Clara University, CASolo
1981Tim HawkinsonCarlson Tower Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo