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Biography

Matthew Day Jackson’s diverse practice comprises sculpture, painting, collage, photography, drawing, video, performance, furniture design, and installation art. The concept of connectivity is at the core of Jackson’s work and the investigation of a wide range of philosophical, scientific, and historical themes are intertwined with the artist’s personal narrative. His practice employs intensive research and production processes to create objects that coincide with a reassembling of history. Lead, Formica, epoxy and bronze, as well as geodesic structures and found objects are used in works that are equally intricate and monumental.  

Jackson views the combination of materials and references to disparate time periods as a metaphor for interconnectivity. Those who have shaped the cultural, social and political landscape in the United States, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Buckminster Fuller, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and others, have been influential in the conceptual basis for Jackson’s work. Accordingly, events that influenced the mythology of American exceptionalism—the Apollo 11 moon landing, development of the American West, and the dropping of the atomic bomb—are rendered to imagine alternate outcomes and suggest the inherent falsehoods contained within such a mythology.  

Examples of this include the series August 6th, 1945, a cautionary statement regarding the fate of humanity. The title references the day that changed the world forever: the dropping of the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. Like many of Jackson’s works, the assemblage of scorched wood and lead addresses the weaponization of technology as well as the contradictory fruits of human progress. Jackson has created works mapping the aftermath of such distruction based on maps of various international cities.

Jackson’s thinking encompasses highlights from the reel of human history and further back into deep time, frequently referencing art history an cultural iconography such as LIFE Magazine covers or well-known paintings. Often works pronounce the projection of human desires onto nature, such as his Archimboldo, Still Life with Flowers and Reclining Nude series. In these series, Jackson investigates how artists have propagated mythologies of beauty throughout history. The still lifes — drawn from paintings made in the 17th century by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Younger, and Archimboldo portraits, are remade almost entirely from artificial materials such as Formica— whereas the reclining nudes or odalisque works are made from scorched and dismantled found tree trunks. The series Destroyed by Fire  are a direct reference to the six paintings by Vincent van Gogh that are marked as either missing or destroyed in war fire. For Jackson, the measurable and the inexplicable, power and sacrifice, mortality and the infinite are all part of arealm he has dubbed ‘the Horriful’, where everything we do has the potential tocreate both horror and beauty.

His use of materials reflects a long-standing position held by Jackson, the idea that our evolution is not only found within the slow adaptation of our bodies, but it is, “also present in the materials we use to express our humanity over time, the evolving process of the creation of society, and the performance of culture.” Markers or mementos of this evolution are combined into the form of maps, collection studies, and projected onto the human form. 

Matthew Day Jackson (b. 1974 in Panorama City, CA, US) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY (US). He received his BFA at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA (US), and his MFA at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (US). He has also studied at NHRA Supercomp Dragster License, Frank Hawleys Racing School in Gainesville, FL (US) and Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME (US). Jackson’s work is included in many private and public collections such as the Astrup-Fearnley Museum, Oslo (NO); Whitney Museum for American Art, New York, NY (US); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NL); François Pinault Collection, Paris (FR); Museo d’Arte Moderna, Bologna (IT); Zabludowicz Collection, London (UK); Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX (US); Kunstmuseum, The Hague (NL) and High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA (US); Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (NL) and Qiao Zhibing Collection, Shanghai (CN). Jackson’s recent solo exhibitions include: Audubon in the Anthropocene: Works by Matthew Day Jackson, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS (US); Maa, Gösta Serlachius Museum, Mänttä (FI); Van Gogh Inspires Matthew Day Jackson, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (NL); Pathetic Fallacy, Hauser & Wirth, Somerset (UK); New Landscape, Qiao Space, Shanghai (CN); Still Life and the Reclining Nude, Hauser & Wirth, London (UK); Gunshot Plywood Bronze Works, GRIMM, Amsterdam (NL); Core and Strip, GRIMM, Amsterdam (NL); There Will Come Soft Rains, Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta, GA (US). Additional solo exhibitions have been held at Hauser & Wirth, Zurich (CH) and New York, NY (US); ZKM Museum, Karlsruhe (DE); GEM, Museum of Contemporary Art, The Hague (NL); MAMbo Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna (IT); Kunstmuseum, Lucerne (CH); MIT List Visual Art Center, Cambridge, MA (US) and at the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX (US). 

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