Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates (born in 1973, lives in Chicago) works as an artist and land theorist. His practice includes sculpture, installation, performance and urban interventions that demonstrate the tremendous use value in economically destabilized communities. His projects attempt to instigate the creation of cultural capital by acting as catalysts for social engagement that leads to political and spatial change. Theaster Gates has described his method as “critique through collaboration” – often working with architects, researchers and performers to create works that expand ideas of what visual-based practices can be.

Theaster Gates has had numerous solo exhibitions in the United States and internationally, including at Museu de Serralves (Porto) in 2014 and MCA Chicago in 2013. The recent project “The Black Madonna”, has been developed across media, from performance to photography and music, exploring the history of the black woman and her image. The project makes use of the photographic archives of the Johnson Publishing Company, publisher of Jet and Ebony magazines, based in Chicago.

“The Black Madonna”, was presented at Kunstmuseum Basel (9 June – 21 October, 2018) and Sprengel Museum, Hanover (23 June – 09 September, 2018). Theaster Gates participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial, New York in 2010 as well as in Documenta 13, Kassel in 2012, and more recently in the 56th Venice Biennale and the 14th Istanbul Biennial in 2015. He regularly hosts live events with his musical ensemble, the Black Monks of Mississippi.


Currently, Theaster Gates is Distinguished Visiting Artist and Director of Artist Initiatives at the Lunder Institute for American Art, Waterville, Maine.