While at first glance, Mark Grotjahn’s oeuvre appears to be bound purely to an aesthetic in modernist discourse, references to nature and movement are plentiful. His butterfly motif, one of several recurring connections to the natural world along with flowers and water, has yielded extensive possibilities in both painting and drawing. His ongoing Butterfly series focuses on perspectival investigations, such as dual and multiple vanishing points, techniques used since the Renaissance to create the illusion of depth and volume on a two-dimensional surface. These iconic compositions of complex, skewed angles and radiant, tonal color allude to the multiple narratives coursing through the history of modernist painting, from the utopian vision of Russian Constructivism to the hallucinatory images of Op Art. The extreme elegance of Grotjahn’s works is often tempered by visible scuffs and markings that attest to the contingencies of process in his otherwise highly controlled compositions.

Centering each work is a single stroke of color from which rays (or wings) emanate. The paintings are essentially monochromatic, but the luster of the painted surface vibrates and oscillates, offering comparison with Barnett Newman’s “zip” paintings. Resembling abstract butterfly wings, the works also call to mind “the butterfly effect,” introduced by a mathematician and meterologist in the 1960s, which maintains that the slightest movement of a butterfly’s wings could eventually cause a tornado to appear—a ready amalogy, perhaps, to Grotjahn’s quietly provocative experiments within the history of abstract art.

Mark Grotjahn was born in 1968 in Pasadena, California, and currently lives in Los Angeles. He received his MFA from the University of California, Berkeley, and his BFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Recent solo exhibitions include the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2005); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2006); Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland (2007); Portland Art Museum (2010) and Aspen Museum of Art (2012). Group exhibitions include 2006 Whitney Biennial, New York; the 54th Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2004); Whitney Biennial, New York (2006); “Painting in Tongues,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2006); “Oranges and Sardines,” the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2008). His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Cleveland Museum of Art; Des Moines Art Center; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Tate Modern, London.

Mark Grotjahn
Mark Grotjahn
Pasadena, 1968

Current Exhibitions

More / Less

de la Cruz Collection

01 Dec — 30 Nov
More / Less groups works by several international contemporary artists, produced during the last thirty years. The exhibition wants to investigate shifts in contemporary visual culture creating a mutual dialogue between...

Past Exhibitions

Continuing Abstraction

Gagosian Basel
10/06/2019 — 16/06/2019

Face and Form

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

Progressive Praxis

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

You’ve Got to Know the Rules…to Break Them

de la Cruz Collection
01/12/2015 — 08/10/2016

The Show is Over

Gagosian London
15/10/2013 — 30/11/2013

Solo Shows

Nine Faces, Anton Kern Gallery, New York, NY
Three to Five Faces, Shane Campbell, Chicago, IL
Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Malevich and the American Legacy, Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY
California Dreamin: Myths and Legends of Los Angeles, Galerie Almine Rech, Paris, France
Kaikai Kiki Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR
Seven Faces, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA
The Artist’s Museum: Los Angeles Artists 1980 – 2010, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Group Show 2010, Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris, France
Benches and Binoculars, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
At Home/Not at Home: Works from the Collection of Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg, Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY (curated by Matthew Higgs)
Mark Grotjahn, Jonathan Lasker, Sol LeWitt, Allan McCollum, James Siena, James Welling, Bravin Lee Programs, New York, NY
Skin Fruit: Selections from the Dakis Joannou Collection, New Museum, New York, NY (curated by Jeff Koons)
Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY
Gagosian Gallery, London, UK
Dancing Black Butterflies, Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY
Kunstmuseum Thun, Thun, Switzerland
Blue Paintings Light to Dark One through Ten, Anton Kern Gallery, New York, NY
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA
Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, UK
Mark Grotjahn: Drawings, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Anton Kern Gallery, New York, NY
Mark Grotjahn: el gran burrito, Boom, Chicago, IL
Blum & Poe, Santa Monica, CA
Blum & Poe, Santa Monica, CA
Blum & Poe, Santa Monica, CA
Flowers in the Office, Brent Petersen Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

Contacts & Details

City of birth: Pasadena Country of birth: USA Date of birth: 1968 Lives in: Los Angeles