"His work has a pent-up power and magnetism, an atomised complexity that draws viewers to it."
- Caroline Roux, Financial Times
Leonardo Drew (b. 1961) lives and works in New York, NY. Drew attended Parsons School of Design, New York, NY from 1981 – 82 and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1985 from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, NY.
Drew has had domestic and international solo exhibitions at Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA; Artpace, San Antonio, TX; Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston, TX; Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, OH; the de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; The Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, PA; Fine Art Society, London, UK; Galleria Napolinobilissima, Naples, Italy; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY; Galerie Lelong, New York, NY; Madison Art Center, Madison, WI; Mary Boone Gallery, New York, NY; Ground Level Overlay, Merce Cunningham Dance Company Collaboration, New York, NY; Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC; Pace Prints, New York, NY; The Pace Roberts Foundation for Contemporary Art, San Antonio, TX; Palazzo Delle Papesse, Centro Arte Contemporanea, Siena, Italy; Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland; Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MI; San Francisco Art Institute, Walter/Mc Bean Gallery, San Francisco, CA; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, NY; SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Thread Waxing Space, New York, NY; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; VIGO, London, UK; Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC; University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA; University at Buffalo Art Gallery, Center for the Arts, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY; and Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT.
Recent group exhibitions include New Prints and Editions, Galerie Lelong, New York, NY, 2021; Hockney to Warhol: Contemporary Drawings from the Collection, The McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX, 2021; Polyphonic: Celebrating PAMM’s Fund for African American Art, Perez Art Museum Miami, Miami, FL, 2020; Generations: A History of Black Abstract Art, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD, 2020; Black Refractions: Selections from The Studio Museum in Harlem, Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA, 2019; Talisman In the Ages of Difference, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, UK, 2018; AAM @ 60: The Diamond Exhibitions, Academy Art Museum, Easton, MD, 2018; The Bleak and the Burgeoning, Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville, AK, 2018; Between I & Thou, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, NY, 2017; New At the NOMA: Recent Acquisitions in Modern and Contemporary Art, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA, 2017; Editions, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, NY, 2017; Solidary and Solitary: The Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida Collection, Odgen Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA, 2017; Summer Group Show, Galerie Forsblom, Helsinki, Finland, 2014; Material World, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO, 2013; San Antonio Collects Contemporary, San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX, 2014; Against the Grain - Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design, Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC; Museum of Art and Design, New York, NY, 2012; Memory, International Contemporary Sculpture, PAN, Palazzo delle Arti di Naoli, Naples, 2012; 30 Americans, Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design, Washington, DC, 2011; and From then to Now: Masterworks of Contemporary African American Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, OH, 2011.
Selected public collections include Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Caldic Collectie, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, PA; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge MA; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Linda Pace Foundation, San Antonio, TX; McNay Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; National Gallery of Art Washington DC; Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ; Progressive Art Collection, Mayfield Village, OH; Ruby City, San Antonio, TX; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Sorigue Foundation Collection, Lérida, Spain St Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; Tate, London, UK; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville, AK; and Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC.
Sculptor Leonardo Drew is the next contemporary artist to transform the Museum’s first floor galleries with a new site-specific commission. Known for his large-scale, multi-dimensional installations, Drew employs organic materials to create topographies that are at once looming in size and stunning in their intricacies. For this project, Drew will anchor sculptural pieces that he refers to as “planets” and surround them with hundreds of smaller objects as he works to identify the interconnectedness of them all. This commission is the latest in a series initiated by the Carter in 2015 to respond to works in the Museum’s collection through the perspective of American artists working today.
Living and working in Brooklyn, New York, Leonardo Drew’s abstract works, made from an outpouring of chaotic elements, create installations that express immense tension and turbulence. The artist’s new work, Number 360 (2023), commissioned for YSP’s 18th-century Chapel, is a powerful reflection on the weight of collective experience, memory, and the cycles of life and death, decay and regeneration. This resonates within a historic building where many lives have been played out for centuries – unknown to us, yet somehow conveyed by the atmosphere of the space.
Drew joins several artists in responding to the Chapel, which was built in 1740 and is a singular, contemplative place. Projects here set out to connect emotionally with a wide humanity and to be welcoming to everyone. Previous artists include Ai Weiwei, James Lee Byars, Kimsooja, Rachel Kneebone, Shirin Neshat, Yinka Shonibare, Chiharu Shiota and Bill Viola.
The basic material of Number 360 is plywood, either blackened or covered with textured coloured paint, which has been ripped apart and splintered to form the building blocks of a conical monolith that surges to over five metres in height. Unusually for Drew, Number 360 is a vertical installation, responding to the height and width of the chapel nave.
Like an explosion held in time, Number 360 conveys ferocious energy as well as trauma and rupture. Drew’s fractured surfaces create their own language, embodying the laboured process of writing the artist’s experience into history. An African American artist born in Tallahassee in 1961 and raised in public housing in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Drew has often alluded to socio-political issues in his work, using such symbolically charged materials as cotton, rope, rags and rust that relate to the antebellum South, the African American experience, and America’s industrial past. He is, however, adamant in his resistance to impose explicit meaning, and chooses to title his pieces only with numbers in order, “to give the viewer enough room to find themselves in the work”.
Artist Talk: Leonardo Drew in conversation with Amin Alsaden at the Power Plant in Toronto, Canada on Thursday, 18 February 2021 at 7 PM (EST).
In this program, co-presented with Kuumba, artist Leonardo Drew will discuss the evolution of his work with Amin Alsaden, The Power Plant’s Nancy McCain & Bill Morneau Curatorial Fellow. The two will expand upon themes explored in the upcoming Summer 2021 exhibition, "Propelled into Otherness".
The Mississippi Museum of Art presents "Leonardo Drew: City in the Grass," a participatory, public art sculpture that invites viewers to engage directly with the work, the space it occupies, and one another while maintaining a social distance - on view from 26 September 2020 to 21 February 2021.
"Leonardo Drew: Making Chaos Legible" is on view at the North Carolina Museum of Art from 9 September 2020 to 3 January 2021.
Using a variety of materials—wood, cotton, canvas, paper, steel, aluminum, sand—Drew makes dynamic sculptures that explode and expand into their spaces. These gravity-defying sculptures convey a feeling of barely contained or restrained energy and chaos. “I think of it as making chaos legible,” he says.
Contemporary artist Leonardo Drew creates dynamic, abstract sculptures and installations that expand into their surroundings. In this virtual lecture, Drew discusses work from his career and his intent for it to be a mirror for viewers, reflecting their individual experiences.
Leonardo Drew will be included in "Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition" at the Phillips Collection from 29 February 2020 to 3 January 2021.
The exhibition presents works by African American artists of the 20th and 21st centuries together with examples by the early 20th century European artists with whom they engaged. European modernist art has been an important, yet complicated influence on black artists for more than a century. The powerful push and pull of this relationship constitutes a distinct tradition for many African American artists who have mined the narratives of art history, whether to find inspiration, mount a critique, or claim their own space.
In conjunction with his inclusion in the exhibtion "Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition," Leonardo Drew will be in conversation with Renee Mauer, Associate Curator, at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. on 29 February 2020 at 6:30 pm.
Leonardo Drew is included in "Polyphonic: Celebrating PAMM's Fund for African American Art" at the Perez Art Museum Miami from 7 February to 9 August 2020.
In 2017, after acquiring several now iconic works for the museum’s collection, and with new generous donations from the PAMM Ambassadors for African American Art and an additional matching grant from the Knight Foundation, Pérez Art Museum Miami created an endowed fund that today stands at almost $2 million.
"Polyphonic: Celebrating PAMM’s Fund for African American Art" highlights a group of paintings, sculptures, and photographs that have since become quintessential for the museum. The title of the exhibition points to the idea of various, distinct artistic voices coming together in a spirit of harmony and solidarity.
Leonardo Drew will deliver an artist lecture on 6 February 2020 from 4:30 to 6 pm at the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis.
Drew is known for creating reflective abstract sculptural works that play upon the dystopian tension between order and chaos, recalling post-minimalist sculpture that alludes to America’s industrial past, as well as the plight of African Americans throughout U.S. history. One could find many meanings in his work, but ultimately the cyclical nature of life and decay can be seen in his grids of transformed raw material to resemble and articulate entropy and a visual erosion of time.
Leonardo Drew is included in "Accidents (Part II)" at Pearl Lam Galleries Hong Kong from 3 February - 25 April 2020.
"Accidents [Part II]" examines the margins of meaning and investigates the potentials that lie beyond the original intention of the artist.
Leonardo Drew's public installation, "City in the Grass," is on view at the NCMA's Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park from 1 February - 7 Semptember 2020.
"City in the Grass," Drew’s first major outdoor sculpture, is both an abstracted cityscape and a colorful flying carpet. Over 100 feet long and 30 feet wide, the work is composed of aluminum panels covered in a mosaic pattern of colored sand, mimicking a Persian carpet.
The Hammer Museum is pleased to announce that Leonardo Drew will present a large-scale installation for the Hammer's lobby wall. As part of their special project series, Drew will rework a recent piece made from roofing material, wood, and sandpaper. Evocative of the cycle of decay and erosion characteristic of any densely urban environment, the monumental arrangement of material draws a physical connection with the viewer as it invades and recedes in and out of our field of vision.
Teresita Fernández and Leonardo Drew will be included in the exhibition "Waking Life" at Ruby City, San Antonio, TX. "Waking Life", the inaugural exhibition for Ruby City, San Antonio's massive new contemporary arts center, will feature works from the Linda Pace Foundation collection and give visitors the chance to see some of the world's greatest contemporary artists. The exhibition will be in three parts, and was curated by Kathryn Kanjo, director and CEO of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Gary Simmons and Leonardo Drew in "Generations: A History of Black Abstract Art" from the Joyner/Giuffrida Collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art from 29 September 2019 - 19 January 2020. The exhibition offers a sweeping new perspective on the contributions black artists have made to the evolution of visual art from the 1940s to the present moment. Artists featured include pioneers of postwar abstraction once overlooked by history, such as Norman Lewis, Alma W. Thomas, and Jack Whitten, as well as artists from a younger generation such as Kevin Beasley, Mark Bradford, Martin Puryear, Lorna Simpson, and many others.
Leonardo Drew in "Cycles: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, University of Massachusetts, Amherst from 20 September - 8 December 2019. Leonardo Drew’s prints, at once powerfully large yet fragile, test the versatility of the medium, transforming cotton paper pulp and pigment into what suggests densely populated cities, a forest, or an urban wasteland. Much like his sculptural installations in wood, Drew starts with a raw material, transforming and reconstructing its essence until it resembles debris. Through this process, the artist articulates diverse histories of chaos, and cycles of birth and death.
Leonardo Drew will be included in "Afterlives of the Black Atlantic" at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College from 20 August 2019 - 24 May 2020.
Afterlives of the Black Atlantic brings together works from the United States, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa that collectively explore the complexities of memory, identity, and belonging in the wake of the transatlantic slave trade. Drawn largely from the AMAM collection, with the addition of several loans and a site-specific commissioned work by José Rodríguez, Afterlives places contemporary artworks in dialogue with historical objects, contextualizing the concerns of artists investigating this history and its continued relevance.
Leonardo Drew has been comissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission to create a public installation, "Number 69S," 2019, for the San Francisco International Airport Harvey Milk Terminal 1. Adorning one of Boarding Area B’s prominent bulkheads is a multi-layered installation by Drew. Comprised of hundreds of small sculptural elements derived from remnants of past artworks and other recycled materials, the installation forms a massive galaxy that spans three walls. Recycling is integral to the artist’s desire to never let anything go to waste. The artwork reflects the enormous cross-section of people passing through SFO who carry with them a multitude of life experiences and cultures.
Leonardo Drew will be participating in a symposium presented by Madison Square Park Conservancy and School of Visual Arts on "Innovating Public Art" at the SVA Theatre on Friday, 21 June 2019 from 9 am to 12 pm.
Leonardo Drew has been commissioned to create a new public project for the Park next spring. Marking the Conservancy's 38th commissioned exhibition and the artist's first major public art project, City In the Grass will present a topographical view of an abstract cityscape atop a patterned panorama. Building on the artist's signature technique of assemblage and addictive collage, the 100-foot long installation will be Drew's largest and most ambitious work to date, incorporating new materials and a new conceptual premise. City in the Grass will be on view from 3 June 2019, through the fall of 2019, at the Park's Oval Lawn.
For City in the Grass, Drew has conceived of an expansive aluminum structure that will undulate along the Park's lawn following the subtle slopes and valleys. Meticulously layered with a mixture of multicolored sand and dirt, the structure will mimic a patterned carpet as its coarse, decorative surface gathers and folds, reflecting the artist's interest in East Asian decorative traditions and global design more broadly. In various sections the artist will install wood reliefs emerging from the undulating waves, reminiscent of aerial views of protruding cityscapes.
Leonardo Drew and Gary Simmons will both be included in Black Refractions, "a landmark initiative that explores the vital contributions of artists of African descent, proposing a plurality of narratives of black artistic production and multiple approaches to understanding these works," first at the Museum of African Diaspora in San Francisco, then the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts, Smith College, Frye Art Museum, and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.
Leonardo Drew and Jim Hodges are included in Process and Practice: 40 Years of Experimentation at The Fabric Workshop and Museum - 15 December 2017 to 25 March 2018.
THE ANNUAL BOOKER-LOWE LECTURE
Inside the Studio with Leonardo Drew
Saturday, October 21, 2017: 4 p.m.–5 p.m.
Talley Dunn is pleased to present a selection of new works by Leonard Drew, 20 October - 16 December 2017.
Deeply informed by the theory and practice of mid-twentieth-century abstraction, post-minimalism, and process art, Leonardo Drew’s formally abstract but emotionally charged compositions reflect his labor-intensive manipulation and composition of materials. Each work is composed of myriad individual elements that have been processed to mimic naturally occurring events such as weathering, rusting, tarnishing, or burning. His most recent installations comprise rods, chunks, blocks and chips of treated wood, which he arranges into undulating curtain-like forms and explosive wall-mounted sculptures that oscillate between the seemingly organic and manmade. Working with the grid as an organizing structure, Drew manages to invest a sense of order into material chaos, imbuing each work with a sense of reckoning with both art and nature.
For his site-specific installation in Wilsey Court, Drew has conceived of a large-scale work spanning three walls. Comprising a multitude of singular sculptural elements applied directly to the surface, it reprises many of the materials and formats he has employed and developed over the course of his career.
CAM Raleigh is pleased to present a site-specific installation by Leonardo Drew.
Leonardo Drew is included in the exhibition Between I & Thou, at the Hudson Vallery Center for Contemporary Art.
‘Between I & Thou’ includes artists from many different areas of the globe, exploring interconnections between the personal, cultural, religious and national. The works reflect the human need to tell the story of self and society, offering a rich conversation about the sameness and differentness among us. There is an emphasis on the inclusion of senior artists whose works cogently reflect lives lived across significant changes in history. ‘Between I & Thou’ celebrates diversity.
Leonardo Drew is included in Continuum, the summer group show at Vigo Gallery, 28 June – 28 July 2016.
Crown Point Press is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by Leonardo Drew, 25 February - 31 March 2016.
Pearl Lam is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new works by Leonardo Drew.
Vigo is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new works by Leonardo Drew. In his new works, Drew explores the themes he has developed over the last few years, breaking free from and manipulating the order of the grid whilst never quite fully escaping its core sanctity. Number 135L, (below) for example is comprised of a system of expansive small wooden elements, each fastidiously laid like a growing mosaic, emanating from the form like the bark of a rare ambiguous tree. The result is an object fossilised and hardened by the artist’s industry, whilst at the same time seemingly folding back on itself as an organic form, soft in its under frame, like folded pasta or a ribbon encrusted in time.
Talley Dunn Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new works by Leonardo Drew.
20 March - 16 May 2015
In the summer of 2015, SITE Sana Fe will present the exhibition Unsuspected Possibilities, a collaboration between artists Leonardo Drew (b. 1961), Sarah Oppenheimer (b. 1972) and Marie Watt (b. 1967), and organized by SITE’s Curator Janet Dees. The three artists will create new installations that are not only specific to SITE’s space but also responsive to each other. The conception of each artist’s work is in direct response to the others’ during the planning stages of the project, and the resulting exhibition is a lively thoughtful interplay unfolding in the galleries in real time. Unsuspected Possibilities will feature architectural interventions into SITE’s space by Oppenheimer, as her work will partly serve as the connective tissues between all of the artists’ installations.
18 July - 25 October 2015
ART21 Art in the Twenty-First Century, the Peabody Award-winning biennial television series, returns to PBS in October for a seventh season, premiering nationally on four consecutive Fridays, October 24 through November 14 at 10 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).
The new season features twelve artists--Tania Bruguera, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Leonardo Drew, Omer Fast, Thomas Hirschhorn, Elliott Hundley, Katharina Grosse, Graciela Iturbide, Joan Jonas, Wolfgang Laib, Trevor Paglen, and Arlene Shechet--across four episodes.
Visit the ART21 website to learn more about the season, episodes, and featured artists.