Artist Conversation | Karla Black

Karla Black talks with Rachel Stratton, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Yale Center for British Art. This keynote conversation concludes the museum's day-long online symposium, Works on the Floor.

About Karla Black

Born in Alexandria, UK in 1972, Black creates her abstract and immersive sculptures through experimentation with unconventional materials, combining, for example, cotton, wool, sugar, paper, make-up, earth, toothpaste, or gold with more conventional foundations such as paper, cellophane, and plaster. Tactile, transparent materials are interspersed with natural and cosmetic substances, smudged and blurred by hand, or lightly sprinkled. She expands the parameters of sculpture through ephemeral worlds and affective layered landscapes, at once monumental but also weightless. These room-filling works are often spread on the floor or suspended from the ceiling to create entire environments. Despite their site-specificity, she considers them self-contained sculptures.
Black’s preferred way to understand the world and communicate within it is through material experiences. For her, materiality is closely tied to psychological states of being; her unique practice is an exploration of materiality and texture, and the emotions they transmit. Her interplay of delicate abstract forms, pastel colors, and surprising materials demands a physical experience and encourages a new way of seeing and perceiving.
Black's solo exhibitions include the Fruitmarket, Edinburgh, (2021); Des Moines Art Center (2020); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2019); Le Festival d’Automne, Paris (2017); Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium (2017); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2016); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2016); Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (2013); Dallas Museum of Art (2012); and Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2012). Her many group shows have appeared at Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2020); Lenbachhaus, Munich (2017); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016); Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2014); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2012); Carré d’Art-Musée, Nîmes (2011); Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn (2010); and Tate Britain, London (2009). Black represented Scotland at the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale (2017)  and her work was shown at Manifesta 10 in St. Petersburg, Russia (2014). She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2011. Her work is in major public collections such as the Tate, London; Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; KiCo Collection, Munich; and others. She lives and works in Glasgow, UK.

Top image
Karla Black, Practically In Shadow (detail), 2013, installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, 2013, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Gisela Capitain


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Works on the Floor Symposium

Friday, December 16, 2022, 8:50 am–4 pm ET