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Concerning the contemporary American landscape and the role 'language' plays- explicit and implicit- within this contextual framework, Phelan's work critically investigates how historically specific models and cultural traditions have been absorbed, co-opted, and repurposed to fit the needs of the popular landscape. Engaging the histories of abstraction, conceptual art, and pop culture, Phelan employs both art historical and mass media references, re-contextualizing/positioning mundane and disparate icons of consumer culture, with an eye towards both art history & the legacy of Middle America ‘life-styling’. Re-positioned and repurposed, these historical/cultural models call into question how 'history', once unhinged from its original contexts, can be reconstituted, redistributed & reabsorbed into the American landscape.
Michael Phelan (b. Beaumont, TX) lives and works in New York City and Marfa, Texas. He is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. His work has been exhibited extensively throughout the US and Europe including Mary Boone, Andrew Kreps, Elizabeth Dee, D'Amelio Terras, Leo Koenig, Eleven Rivington, Horton Gallery John Connelly Presents, Daniel Reich, P.S. 1/MoMA, The Kitchen, and Artist’s Space, New York; Sculpture Center, L.I. City, NY; Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; Kantor/ Feuer, QED Gallery, and Champion Fine Art, Los Angeles; Shane Campbell, Chicago, Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, TX; Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, TX; Kevin Bruk Gallery, Miami, FL; Nice & Fit Gallery, Berlin; Galerie Edward Mitterrand, Geneva and Mitterrand + Sanz | Contemporary Art, Zurich. Recent exhibitions include 'California Dreamin' curated by Fred Hoffman, Portugal Arte '10, Lisbon; 'The Morning After (aka RU-486)' curated by Benjamin Godsill, 2nd Tbilisi Contemporary Art Exhibition, Capital of Georgia, Tbilisi; 'Abstract America 2: New Paintings from the US', Saatchi Gallery, London; 'Sparking Dialogue', curated by Senior Curator Jen Mergel, Linde Family Wing for the Contemporary Art Collection, Museum of Fine Art, Boston; 'Blind Cut' (catalogue), Marlborough Gallery, NY; 'Watch Your Step', FLAG Art Foundation, NY; and most recently 'More Young Americans': An overview of the American Contemporary Art Scene, curated by Marc-Olivier Wahler, from the collection of Susanne van Hagen, L’Enclos des Bernardins Hôtel de Miramion, Paris. Recent solo exhibitions include JGM Galerie, Paris and Horton Gallery, NY.
Michael Phelan's work is included in prominent public and private collections throughout the US and Europe. Most notably Melissa and Robert Soros, Amy and John Phelan, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Rosette Delug, Glen Fuhrman, Susanne van Hagen, Candia Fisher, Marlene Persky, Paul Bern and Alfred Gillio, Charlotte and Bill Ford, Ernesto Esposito, Barbara and Howard Morse, James Frey, Angela and Massimo Lauro/ Il Giardini dei Lauri, The Saatchi Collection, Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, and Progressive Art Collection. His work has been featured in numerous publications including Artforum, Frieze, Modern Painters, Art in America, Flaunt Magazine, Art Lies | Contemporary Art Journal, Men's Vogue, Vogue Italia, The New York Times, T Magazine, The Boston Globe, and The Huffington Post among others.