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Joe Scanlan

Director, Professor of Visual Arts in the Lewis Center for the Arts

Joe Scanlan is an artist whose work takes multiple forms, from sculpture and design to publications and fictional personae. Indeed, there is a willful, chameleonic vein of subterfuge running through his work as exemplified in the Pop Art gamesmanship of devising and selling his own products as works of art (such as the Nesting Bookcase), the political economy of DIY (a coffin reverse-engineered out of IKEA parts), the elegiac Solongsolsolong (a room-sized installation of fake forsythia) or the sardonic Catalyst (a brand concept for a line of cosmetic tears). Scanlan is internationally renowned for the dark humor and conceptual rigor of his work. He is also a widely read and discussed writer for such venues as Artforum, frieze, and Parkett, as well as his own website, thingsthatfall.

Scanlan has staged twenty solo exhibitions in the United States and Europe over the past five years, including one-person museum shows at Kunstmuseum aan Zee, Oostende, Belgium; K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westphalen, Düsseldorf, Germany; and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands. He also has participated in the biennials of Sydney, Shanghai, and Sharjah, as well as Documenta IX in Kassel, Germany, and the Aperto in Venice. He has published five monographs in relation to his work: Object Lessons (Kunstmuseum aan Zee); Passing Through (K21); DIY (Van Abbemuseum); Pay Dirt (IKON Gallery, Birmingham, England); and Joe Scanlan (Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany). Scanlan is also the holder of U.S. patent no. 6,488,732, which is a process of converting postconsumer waste into viable potting soil. He is represented by Galerie Martin Janda in Vienna, ProjecteSD in Barcelona, Galerie Chez Valentin in Paris, Galerie Micheline Szwajcer in Antwerp, and Galerie de Expeditie in Amsterdam. His work is in the public collections of K21, Düsseldorf; Tate Modern, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; the Stedelijk Museum Voor Aktuele Kunst, Ghent; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Scanlan began teaching at Princeton in 2009, when he was appointed professor of art and director of the Visual Arts Program. Before coming to Princeton, he was appointed assistant professor in the School of Art at Yale University in 200l, and promoted to associate professor in 2006. Scanlan was born in Circleville, Ohio and earned a BFA in Sculpture from the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, in 1984. He lived the first decade of his adult life in Chicago before moving to Brooklyn in 1995 to be with his future wife, Diana Murphy, an architecture historian and the executive editor of Metropolis Books. They currently live in Harlem, where they have a garden and two cats.

Photo provided by the artist

Campus Address

Lewis Center for the Arts
185 Nassau Street

Campus Phone



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