Gary Lang (b. 1950) is recognized as one of the most distinguished artists in Western Contemporary Art, and no account of recent art history would be complete without mention of his iconic concentric circle paintings. To connect his work contextually to that of modern colorists such as Josef Albers and Frank Stella seems only logical; however, Lang’s methodology can be better understood when compared to that of a classical painter. His physical act of painting requires intense focus on the interaction between brush, hand, paint and canvas. This level of concentration compels Lang to be “hyper-present” with his works—an element that translates from artist to viewer. The artistic evolution of Gary Lang, from 1975 to today, has been an investigation into the dynamics of visual consciousness articulated through his demanding paintings.
Born and raised near the Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles, Gary Lang developed his artistic voice during what can best be described as a “transitional” era of west-coast artistic culture. His work in the 1970s and 1980s played a role in an optimistic moment in California postmodern culture that challenged New York’s dominance. In 1970 he was accepted into the B.A. program at Cal Arts where he studied in the company of Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl, and David Salle. Together these vanguards were able to debunk old stereotypes that California lacked cultural innovators and set the stage for Cal Arts to become one of the most venerated artistic institutions in the world.
Following his B.A. program, Lang opted to attend Yale University in 1973, where he completed his M.F.A. in 1975. During his time at Yale, faculty and fellow students relied on the theories that Josef Albers introduced there during the 1950s. Lang disregarded those teachings drawing inspiration from artists as varied as Paul Klee, Edouard Vuillard, Robert Irwin, Donald Judd, Barry Le Va, and Wassily Kandinsky.
In 1975 Lang moved to Barcelona on a Fulbright Scholarship, where he spent nearly two years studying the vibrant architecture of Antoio Gaudi. Upon returning to Los Angeles Lang lived in an industrial warehouse loft space near downtown, and for the next decade he allowed the various moods and dialects of the urban L.A. environment resonate within his work.
In 1985, the artist sensed that the evolution of his work required him to move to New York, where he continued to live and work for the next 16 years. In a transitional moment in 1987 Lang rekindled a thread he began in the late 70's completing his first shaped concentric circle painting, laying the groundwork for what can only be called an unending love affair with this painting methodology. These circles, or “tondos” are undeniably his most iconic style and have consumed him since.
His distinguished career boasts significant museum and solo exhibitions worldwide, including but not limited to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the McNay Museum, San Antonio; The Haags Gementemuseum, The Hauge, Netherlands; the Institute of American Studies, Barcelona, Spain; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai, China; the Museum Ludwig, Koln, Germany; Albright-Knox Museum, Buffalo, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn; and the United Nations Plaza, New York. His paintings can be found in significant private and public collections internationally and has been critically reviewed in numerous publications, including the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Reader, Art Week, KCRW Art Talk, Art & Auction, The Wall Street Journal, ARTFORUM, ArtNews, and Art in America. Gary Lang now lives and works in Southern California.