Laura Owens

11 November 2018–25 March 2019

Exhibition Overview


Laura Owens, Untitled, 2016.

Laura Owens is a much-celebrated and highly anticipated survey exhibition of paintings by Los Angeles-based artist Laura Owens (b. 1970, Euclid, Ohio). Building on MOCA’s longstanding commitment to Owens, this exhibition is the most comprehensive since the artist’s landmark early survey at the museum in 2003.

Laura Owens, featuring approximately 60 paintings from the mid-1990s to the present, highlights the significant strides Owens has made in recent years and shows how her early work sets the stage for gripping and groundbreaking new paintings and installations. ”Laura Owens is one of the absolutely crucial figures in the development of painting over the past three decades,” says Simpson. “Her sense of experimentation, including but surpassing questions of technique, has been highly influential and a wonder to behold. Laura’s history is deeply entwined with the history of this museum, and it is an honor to bring this acclaimed exhibition to Los Angeles.” For more than twenty years, Owens has pioneered an innovative approach to painting that challenges traditional assumptions about the nature of figuration and abstraction; the relationships between avant-garde art, craft, and pop culture; and the interplay of painting and contemporary technologies.

Owens emerged on the Los Angeles art scene shortly after completing her studies at the California Institute of the Arts in 1994, at a time when the academic establishment viewed painting with skepticism and many of her peers favored more conceptual approaches to artmaking. Owens bucked this prevailing trend with a series of large-scale canvases marked by grand ambition on the one hand, and the incorporation of humble, low-key marks and subjects on the other; she merged abstraction with goofy personal allusions, as well as materials that seemed more the province of craft stores than the fine arts. References to cartooning, doodling, and a high-pitch, sometimes pastel, palette served as further irritants to ingrained painterly pieties.

(© Laura Owens. Courtesy of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York and Rome; Sadie Coles HQ, London; and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne.)

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