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Jack Pierson (American, born 1960)

About this artist

Source: The Museum of Modern Art

One of the leading voices of his generation, New York–based artist Jack Pierson works in photography, drawing, and sculpture, and his diverse body of work delves into deeply resonant ideas about love, creation, death, isolation, and faded glamour. His sculptures, fashioned from salvaged signs from old movie marquees, storefronts, garages, and casinos, take the form of mismatched letters combined to create poetic words or phrases that suggest multiple meanings.

Pierson also mixes partial sentences and diary-like entries in his text drawings, which bear lyrical titles such as Let Us Be Losers in Love and Another Night. His photographs, which evoke fleeting moments and are often infused with brilliant color, explore the pathos of interpersonal relationships, gender, and desire. While Pierson's references are autobiographical, he succeeds in transforming his private world into art that is universally engaging and enduring. A suite of his diverse drawings, dating from the early 1990s to the 2000s, are at the heart of MoMA's collection of Pierson's work.

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About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

American photographer and installation artist. He completed his BFA at the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, in 1984. He is often grouped together with other American photographers who use a diaristic style, such as Nan Goldin and Marc Morrisroe (1959–89). Like Goldin and other contemporary photographers such as Wolfgang Tillmans and the American Collier Schorr (b 1963), Pierson concentrates on ambiguity of gender and on evoking an emotional resonance through his images. Approaching photography in a pictorialist and painterly fashion, he uses techniques of over-exposure and colour saturation to give his images an atmosphere of a scene located in the subconscious rather than in any specific place. His image repertoire focuses mainly on men, flowers, landscapes and city scenes. His work of the 1980s reflects his displaced life at the time, while he was living on the road in motels and moving from city to city. Neon Baltimore and Ocean Drive (both 1985; see 1998 exh. cat., p. 156 and p. 169 respectively), shot in motels, are clearly imbued with a sense of longing, loss and melancholy. Pierson also concentrated on street signs, both in photographs such as Angel Youth (1990; see 1998 exh. cat., p. 145) and in jumbled assemblages of found commercial lettering often spelling out witty words or short statements in a variety of visual styles; they recall the text paintings of Ed Ruscha, but given form in three dimensions. In later photographs he developed a clearer, more focused style, with less emphasis on colour saturation, shifting attention to light and composition, as in his landscape Clear Lake, Iowa (1996; see 1998 exh. cat., p. 155) or his portrait Nat’s Back, P-town (1995; see 1996 exh. cat., p. 7). His methods of installing his works for exhibitions are also highly stylised, often incorporating other objects, texts and drawings, alongside his photographs.

Francis Summers
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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