Dan Colen was born in New Jersey in 1979. From the outset, Colen’s paintings continually investigate: to what extent does art come from the artist, and to what extent does it arise from forces independent of the artist? In his earliest paintings, Colen labored over precise oil renderings of banal interiors—a sloppy apartment bathroom, an adolescent bedroom, a camping tent—into which he introduced the presence of the supernatural—the Blue Fairy, Jesus Christ, twinkling cherubs, his deceased grandfather. He describes the subsequent series of Candle paintings as “portraits of God.” In these works, the space of the canvas contains the space of Geppetto’s worktable—where Pinocchio transcends his materiality to become real—and a message appears in the smoke left by a just-extinguished candle flame.

In 2006, Colen started to make paintings with chewing gum instead of paint, ushering in a long period during which he traded representational subject matter for an exploration of the medium itself. Using flowers, dirt, grass, tar and feathers, Mylar confetti, street trash, and readymade metal studs, he relinquished his controlling approach to painting, instead allowing the final result to be guided in large part by the behavior of the given material. He commented that he found the loss of control exciting, as if the paintings were taking on “inevitable forms—almost like destined forms.”

Exhibitions include the 2006 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2006); “USA Today,” Royal Academy, London (2006); “Defamation of Character,” PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York (2006); “Fantastic Politics,” National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo (2006); “Skin Fruit: Selections from the Dakis Joannou Collection,” New Museum, New York (2010); “Peanuts,” Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo (2011); “In Living Color,” FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2012); “Meanwhile…Suddenly and then,” 12th Biennale de Lyon (2013); “Dan Colen: The Illusion of Life,” Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2013); “Help!” The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich, CT (2014); “The L…o…n…g Count,” The Walter De Maria Building, New York, NY (2014); “Dan Colen: Psychic Slayer,” HEART—Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark (2015).

Dan Colen
Dan Colen
Leonia, 1979

Current Exhibitions

From Day to Day

de la Cruz Collection

01 Oct — 30 Nov
De la Cruz Collection‘s collective 2019-2020 exhibition is titled “From Day to Day” and features a selection...

Past Exhibitions

More / Less

de la Cruz Collection
01/12/2018 — 30/09/2019

Dan Colen: Sweet Liberty

Newport Street Gallery
04/10/2017 — 21/01/2018

Force and Form

de la Cruz Collection
01/12/2017 — 30/11/2018

Dan Colen: Purgatory Paintings

Massimo De Carlo, Palazzo Belgioioso
09/05/2017 — 14/07/2017

Progressive Praxis

de la Cruz Collection
29/11/2016 — 29/11/2017

Solo Shows

Peanuts, Museum Of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway

Poetry, Gagosian Gallery, New York
Karma, Massimo de Carlo, Milan, Italy

I live There… Gagosian Gallery, London

NO ME, Peres Projects, Berlin
Secrets and Cymbals, Smoke and Scissors (My Friend Dash’s Wall In The Future), Peres Projects, LA
Secrets and Cymbals, Smoke and Scissors, Deitch Projects, NY
Potty Mouth, Potty War, Pot Roast, Pot Is A Reality Kick, Gagosian Gallery, NY

Seven Days Always Seemed Like A Bit Of An Exaggeration, Rivington Arms, NY

Group Shows

Skin Fruit: Selections From The Dakis Joannou Collection, curated by Jeff Koons, The New Museum, NY

New York Minute, curated by Kathy Grayson, Macro Future Museum, Rome, Italy
Minneapolis, Peres projects, Los Angeles, CA, 2009
Abstract America: New Painting and Sculpture, Saatchi Gallery, London

Wet Pain, Step Brother, Dan Colen and Nate Lowman, Michelle Maccarone, New York
Subtraction, Deitch Projects, New York
Sack Of Bones, Asia Song Society, New York
Meet Me Around The Corner-Works From The Astrup Fearnley Collection, Astrup Fearnley Museum Of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway

Nest, Dan Colen and Dash Snow, Deitch Projects, New York
Pop Art is: Gagosian Gallery, London
Unholy Truth’s, Initial access, Frank Cohen Collection, Manchester
Generation, Art Gallery Of Alberta, Canada
Fractured Figure, works from the Dakis Joannou Collection, curated by Jeffrey Deitch, Deste Foundation, Athens, Greece
Beyond Zero, Peres Projects, Athens, Greece
Sweet Bird Of Youth, Arndt and Partner, Zurich, Switzerland, curated by Hedi Slimane
Last Attraction Next Exit, Max Wigram Gallery, London
Absent Without Leave, Victoria Miro Gallery, London
Beneath The Underdog, Gagosian Gallery, NY

Fantastic Politics, The National Museum Of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway
USA Today, Royal Academy Of Arts London, London
Survivor, curated by David Rimanelli, New York
Defamation Of Character, curated by Neville Wakefield, PS1 Contemporary Art Centre, Long Island City, NY
Mid Life Crisis, curated by Ivana Slander and Tara Subkoff, Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York
Axis Of Praxis, Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis, Curated by Nate Lowman
Infinite Painting, Villa Manin Centre For Contemporary Art, passariano, Codroipo, Italy
Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York

Bridge Freezes Before Road, Barbara Gladstone Gallery

Contacts & Details

City of birth: Leonia Country of birth: USA Date of birth: 1979 Lives in: New York