The New Museum presents the first New York survey exhibition of the work of Jim Shaw (BFA 1974) in Jim Shaw: The End is Here, on display from October 7, 2015 — January 10, 2016.
Over the past thirty years, Shaw has become one of the United States’ most influential and visionary artists, moving between painting, sculpture, and drawing, and building connections between his own psyche and America’s larger political, social, and spiritual histories. Shaw mines his imagery from the cultural refuse of the twentieth century, using comic books, record covers, conspiracy magazines, and obscure religious iconography to produce a portrait of the nation’s subconscious. Although a recognized icon of the Los Angeles art scene since the 1970s, Shaw has never had a comprehensive museum show in New York. This exhibition, which encompasses three floors of the New Museum, reveals the breadth and inventiveness of his art. A comprehensive selection of his works is presented alongside objects from his collections of vernacular art and religious didactic materials.
Shaw’s work is inspired by his childhood in suburban Michigan, his adopted home of Los Angeles where he has lived for over thirty years, and the dark and sprawling underbelly of America as a whole. Along with fellow Michigan-native Mike Kelley, Shaw moved to California in the 1970s to attend Cal Arts and was one of a number of notable artists to emerge from the school in the late 1970s and early ’80s. His work is distinguished by rigorous formal and structural analyses of neglected forms of vernacular culture, informed by his large collections of objects representative of consumer desires, religious fervor, and a constantly evolving counterculture. For Shaw, these seemingly mundane artifacts reflect shifting social and political values and the way in which individual Americans are the product of a variety of conflicting forces.