• Karla Black

  • Modern Art is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of new work by Karla Black. This is Black’s fourth solo exhibition with Modern Art.


    Karla Black’s exhibition for Modern Art is comprised of a series of new sculptures made from soaked and dried cartridge paper and watercolour inks. Using only red, orange and yellow inks blended together, the works are each bathed in varying shades of pink or peach. The paper is left to soak, and then hung out to dry over various household objects from which the sculptures gain their shapes and forms. As such, Black’s new works are more pared back than is typical of her sculptures, and the exhibition as a whole seems to question what is most necessary and essential in her work, keeping only the bare bones. This economy of means is adopted by Black both through a reflection upon the past two decades of her practice characterised by acceleration, but also because of the material and psychical conditions of living and making that have been redefined by the pandemic.

  • Comfort in Common, 2022
  • Though Warm, 2022
  • "Influenced by the bold combinations of color and texture in the work of Lynda Benglis and Helen Frankenthaler, Black mixes unlikely materials that combine and repel: creating caked and chalky surfaces directly on the floor, or on paper sugared with sandy substrates, in a signature palette of muted pinks, sea foam green, yellows, and cornflower blue. Once-primary colors are seemingly bleached out, as though by the sun or chemicals, and replaced by pale Easter hues that have long been stereotyped as feminine. This inference is compounded by Black's sometime use of beauty products, an oblique commentary on women's absence from histories of sculptural production. Unlike Rachel Lachowicz, an American artist who has long used cosmetics as a deliberate feminist strategy in her appropriation sculptures, Black takes an approach that is less conceptual, and more intuitive, redolent of the poetics of William Carlos Williams: 'no ideas but in things.'"

    Jenni Sorkin, 'Five Propositions on Abstract Sculpture.', 2016.
  • Resembles Reflection, 2022
  • Thrown Consequence, 2022
  • Why should femininity and fragility go together? [Black] asks. And, after all, she points out, it was not so long ago that pink was coded as masculine, and blue feminine, the inverse of the current coding of colors. Which is to say, fragility is a human, not a feminine condition, and the gender of colors is deeply unstable, no matter how ‘natural’ we may think our own gender equations are.”


    Carol M. Armstrong, ‘Karla Black: Between.’, 2014.
  • Corners Continue, 2022

    "It is not least because of the fragility and latent instability of the materials that there is a lingering sense of something unfinished, implying a different relationship between spectator and artwork. In contrast with the machine-made components that were so often used in what became known as Minimal Art (by Carl Andre or Donald Judd, for example), Karla Black's works are created through a process in which she herself is deeply involved in the manipulation of materials. This process, and to some extent Black's aleatory approach, in which the work often never arrives at the definitive, prescribed form of an object, but focuses instead on the properties of the material, has echoes of the post-minimalist positions of Robert Morris, Eva Hesse or Robert Smithson, and is even reminiscent of Joseph Beuys' use of materials. In 1979, October magazine published an article by Rosalind Krauss entitled Sculpture in the Expanded Field. The text charts the development of modern sculpture and its departure from the role of a commemorative monument with a representative function in a specific place, to its definition in the 1960s as not-architecture or not-landscape. The  way out of this impasse, according to Krauss, was to consider sculpture within an expanded field that also included architecture and landscape, and within which there was room for a variety of categories, of which sculpture was but one. In Karla Black's case, in spite of the obvious painterly, installation and performative aspects of her work, the term sculpture must still be applied. Her works negotiate the here-and-now; they do not refer to some visual space beyond, but instead fully embody their own physical presence – a state also required of the viewer."
    Annette Hans, Heike Munder, Paul Nesbitt, Michael Stanley, 'Afterword.' In Karla Black: It's Proof That Counts, 2010.
  • Seen In Time, 2022
  • For the past twenty years, Karla Black has been making sculptures that explore the physical and psychic properties of the materials that populate her everyday life. Black’s sculptures come from modest means: paper, cellophane, cosmetics and other household, ready-to-hand substances (bath bombs, Gaviscon, soil, polystyrene, Sellotape, and Vaseline, for example) are her materials of choice, employed for their visual and tactile properties, as opposed to any overt referential significance. These materials are processed and worked through to the limits of their physical parameters, becoming unrecognizable and utterly unique forms, shapes and structures that hover mid-air from the ceiling, attach to walls or other features of the space, or cover the surface of the ground or walls in chalky, pastel colours. In this way, Black’s sculptures respond to the space they are in; the pre-existing visual and spatial features of the architecture becoming cues for Black’s treatment of it, which can be playful, overwhelming, exploratory and effusive.

  • sculptures (2001-2021), details for a retrospective, The Fruitmarket, Edinburgh,  7 July 2021 - 24 October 2021


  • Karla Black: 20 Years, Des Moines Art Centre, IA, USA, 8 February 2020 -17 May 2020 


  • Festival d’Automne à Paris, 2 venues: - Archives Nationales, École des Beaux-Arts de Paris, France, 2017

  • 54th Venice Biennale, Palazzo Pisani (S. Marina), Venice, Italy, 2011

  • Turner Prize: Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, 21 October 2011 
  • For any enquiries please email info@modernart.net