American artist Andrea Fraser, a pioneer of the conceptual art movement known as institutional critique, in which the structures of cultural organizations such as art museums and markets are tackled in typically provocative ways, is now represented by the Marian Goodman Gallery.
The announcement is notable given that Fraser, whose work spans performance, as well as film and non-fiction text, has regularly voiced his disapproval of many aspects of the art industry and has long attempted to distance himself from it, even commenting on his inability to do so. She is the latest in a series of mid-to-late career female artists with socially responsible practices to be signed to major commercial galleries.
Fraser has been practicing since the mid-1980s. One of her earliest works was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1989, where she played the role of a tour guide, delivering a satirical and exaggerated version of a speech by docent that addressed the relationship between institutions and philanthropists. In Little Frank and his carp (2001), Fraser twirled half-naked on the walls of Frank Gehry’s brand new Guggenheim Bilbao, to ridicule the industry’s fetishization of star-architects. Controversial works by Fraser included Untitled (2003), for which she films herself having sex with a collector.
One of her most influential and well-known pieces is an essay submitted to the Whitney Biennial in 2012, in which she details the political leanings and financial holdings of various members of the Whitney Museum’s board of trustees. The work would prove prescient a few years later when the museum’s vice president, Warren Kanders, was forced to resign in 2019 over his investment in a company that supplies tear gas used at the US-Mexico border. In 2016 Fraser returned to the Whitney to direct Down the riverin which she emptied the museum’s fifth-floor galleries except for the sounds of various prisons and other correctional facilities.
She has received a number of institutional solo exhibitions throughout her career, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona (MACBA) and the Museum der Moderne Salzburg. She has also written several books and other long texts: in 2005, a collection of her writings on minimalism and museum architecture was published by MIT Anthology Press; in 2018 she released the book Museums, money and politics. She is a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
Marian Goodman is the first American gallery to represent Fraser since the late 2000s; she was previously represented by Galerie Petzel (then known as Galerie Friedrich Petzel) for a few years in the early to mid-2000s. She continues to be represented by Cologne gallery Nagel Draxler, with whom she has mounted five exhibitions since 1990, date of its first signature.
“I have regarded the Marian Goodman Gallery for decades as one of the foremost custodians of conceptual and temporal art,” Fraser said in a statement. “It will be an honor to show alongside so many of my artistic heroes.” Artists on Marian Goodman’s list who work in performance and time-based mediums include Pierre Huyghe, Tacita Dean, and Yang Fudong. The gallery maintains locations in New York and Paris and a project space with intermittent programming in London; a space in Los Angeles is expected to open next year.
“Andrea Fraser is one of the most prominent protagonists of a critical practice that allows us to think about art and sociopolitical relations more broadly,” gallery president Philip Kaiser said in a statement.