Lauren Halsey, an Activist Artist, Joins Gagosian Gallery

LOS ANGELES — Lauren Halsey, the Los Angeles artist who recently transformed the Metropolitan Museum’s rooftop into a contemporary monument and who created a food bank in her South Central neighborhood during Covid, is joining Gagosian, one of the largest art galleries, with 19 spaces worldwide.

Her first show will open next year at Gagosian’s Paris location and her first institutional exhibition in England will open at Serpentine Galleries, London, in October 2024. Halsey will also maintain representation by David Kordansky in Los Angeles.

“I thought how exciting it could be to partner with another gallery to expand my context to different audiences, platforms and voices,” Halsey, 36, said, adding that Gagosian could show her work in Asia, “places I haven’t even traveled to.”

Larry Gagosian said he first saw Halsey’s work when Antwaun Sargent, one of his directors, included it in his “Social Works” show at the gallery in 2021. Then he saw Halsey’s ambitious iteration of the annual Met rooftop commission, which was something of a contemporary take on the museum’s Temple of Dendur.

The artist Lauren Halsey’s site-specific installation for the Met’s Roof Garden in April included references to friends, family, architecture, music and South Central Los Angeles as well as hieroglyphs and the Temple of Dendur.Credit…Amir Hamja for The New York Times

“I can’t think of anything on the roof that’s impressed me more,” the dealer said.

Gagosian added, “I happen to have grown up in an area not far from where she grew up. It was familiar territory when Antwaun and I went to her studio. I started recognizing some of the streets. She’s dealing with issues of race and culture and her neighborhood, but it’s not heavy handed. It combines this seriousness with something very elegant and highly imagined.”

Gagosian said he is on board with Halsey’s policy of making sure some of her art sells to collectors of color. “Inclusiveness isn’t just the artists you show, it’s also the people that you show it to,” he said.

Lauren Halsey, “LODA,’’ 2022. Mixed media installation on foil-insulated foam and wood.Credit…via Lauren Halsey, David Kordansky Gallery and Gagosian; Photo by Allen Chen/SLH Studio

Although best known for showing auction darlings like Cy Twombly, Anselm Kiefer and Richard Prince, Gagosian also represents Black artists such as Theaster Gates, Titus Kaphar and Rick Lowe, and Halsey said it was “exciting to be on the roster.”

Sargent said he met Halsey when she was a graduate student at Yale; she then did a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2014. “She thinks about the idea of funk and using that as a way to expand the possibilities of Black people in space,” he said. “We have to make sure this vision succeeds in the art world because it’s so important for her community.”

Kordansky said he is comfortable having a collaborative relationship with another dealer. “There will be an open line of dialogue between the galleries,” he said. “Lauren’s ambition and her hopes and dreams for what she wants to render within the space of her practice is mighty.”

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