July 2, 2021–David Zwirner is pleased to announce the representation of the American artist Katherine Bernhardt in partnership with Canada. David Zwirner will present an exhibition of new work by Bernhardt in London in the spring of 2022.
Bernhardt’s boundless visual appetite has established her as one of the most energetic painters working today. She first attracted notice in the early 2000s for her paintings of supermodels taken straight from the pages of fashion magazines such as Elle and Vogue. In the decade following, she began making pattern paintings that feature an ever-expanding list of quotidian motifs. Tacos, coffee makers, toilet paper, cigarettes, E.T., Garfield, Darth Vader, and the Pink Panther make unlikely visual combinations within expansive fields of exuberant color. She takes pleasure in variety, and fully investigates each of her obsessions before moving to another. Bernhardt’s trust in the fundamental underpinnings of painting gives her the freedom to depict anything she wants, and the democratizing surfaces of her canvases work without illusion, perspective, logical scale shifts, or atmosphere. With Bernhardt’s blunt yet lyrical approach, each painting has the feel of a complete thought that engages the artist’s rich and raucous free association.
Through her index of images, from childhood sticker books to a ketchup bottle seen during travel, Bernhardt chronicles her life and the broader culture, synthesizing her visual material with hard-won ease. Her influences span from Henri Matisse and the Pattern and Decoration movement to Peter Doig and Chris Ofili. She is an artists’ artist, admired by many contemporary peers working today as a singular voice in painting. In a palette that ranges from restrained to vivid Day-Glo, Bernhardt paints the canvases face up on her studio floor, employing spray paint, puddles of thinned-out acrylic, and utilitarian brushwork to emphasize aspects of her motifs. Bernhardt’s process is improvisational and loose, at times inviting accident and chance into the works, as well as asserting an equal relationship between artist and material.
David Zwirner has stated, “I have known Katherine Bernhardt’s work for many years and have been a fan ever since I first saw it at Canada here in New York. It has been exciting to see her work evolve. I believe Katherine is one of the most interesting and authentic voices in contemporary American painting. She is fearless and unapologetic, as she creates iconic American imagery. Canada has done an amazing job presenting her work to a New York audience, and we feel the time has come to present Katherine’s work globally. I greatly look forward to our first show in our London gallery in the spring, and our collaboration with Canada in broadening Katherine’s audience.” Canada’s Phil Grauer shares David’s excitement about Bernhardt’s work and the opportunities for her with David Zwirner: “Katherine is a force. Her courage as both artist and person is legendary. We are excited to see her take on this new opportunity.”
Katherine Bernhardt was born in 1975 in St. Louis, Missouri, and received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998 and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 2000.
In 2018, the solo exhibition Katherine Bernhardt: Watermelon World was on view at the Museo Mario Testino (MATE) in Lima, Peru. The previous year, in 2017, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, presented FOCUS: Katherine Bernhardt. Also in 2017, the artist painted a sixty-foot-long mural entitled XXL Superflat Pancake for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. In 2015, Bernhardt created a permanent installation for Club Caribe, Cidra, Puerto Rico, and a pool painting at the Nautilus South Beach, Miami Beach.
Her work has also been included in significant group exhibitions, such as We Fight to Build a Free World: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz, Jewish Museum, New York (2020–2021); Animal Farm, curated by Sadie Laska, The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich, Connecticut (2017); NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2015–2016), which traveled to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC (2016–2017); and Bad Touch, Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago (2002).
Work by the artist is found in prominent public and museum collections, including The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich, Connecticut; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Knoxville Museum of Art, Tennessee; Portland Museum of Art, Maine; Rubell Museum, Miami; and San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas. Bernhardt lives and works in St. Louis.