Pace Gallery is pleased to present a selection of drawings created by the artist and musician David Byrne over the last 20 years.
The exhibition will include works from the artist’s dingbats series of drawings made during the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of his tree drawings from the early 2000s, and a selection of his drawings of chairs from 2004–07. In addition, Phaidon will release a book of the artist’s dingbats drawings on February 16, 2022. The drawings in Pace’s presentation shed light on Byrne’s distinct formal style and expansive visual arts practice.
Throughout his five-decade-long career, Byrne has nurtured a fine arts practice spanning drawing, photography, installation, performance, and design. In 2008, he was commissioned by the nonprofit Creative Time to transform the interior of the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan—the exhibited work, titled Playing the Building (2005), comprises an immersive sound sculpture. The artist has also presented public installations at Pace Gallery in New York in 2011 and Saks Fifth Avenue in New York in 2002.
This presentation follows Byrne’s 2020 exhibition with Pace—an online showing of 50 dingbats drawings produced during quarantine—and it marks the artist’s eighth collaboration with the gallery since 2003. Works in his dingbats series grapple with the attendant boredom, anxiety, and loneliness of quarantine as well as the inequities and injustices highlighted by the pandemic. The dingbats are Byrne’s response to these conditions—an imaginative way of expressing hope, desire for connection, and the power of community.
Byrne often imbues his drawings with surreal, playful qualities. He once wrote of his lively, multifarious depictions of chairs, “Maybe they are portraits, maybe self-portraits, maybe portraits of my interior state. Maybe they are also possible practical furniture design. Maybe all of the above at once.” He has described his tree drawings, in which the artist labels the expansive branches and roots of trees with varied signifiers, as “faux science, automatic writing, self-analysis, satire and maybe even a serious attempt at finding connections where none were thought to exist. And an excuse to draw plant-like forms and diagrams.”
The artist’s work can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven. Byrne’s recently reopened and acclaimed Broadway musical production David Byrne’s American Utopia will continue its run throughout Pace’s presentation. Phaidon’s book on Byrne’s dingbats drawings, being released on February 16, 2022, is skillfully designed and edited by artist and curator Alex Kalman and made in close collaboration with Byrne. A History of the World (in Dingbats) is a charming collection of more than 100-line drawings Byrne created while in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic.