Born in 1944, Los Angeles, CA. Lives and works in New York.
Allan McCollum is a contemporary American artist whose work often blurs the boundary between unique artifacts and mass production. Interested in how objects attain cultural value, McCollum’s Surrogate Paintings are uniquely produced yet intended to seem manufactured, questioning both the process of labor and the value of authorship. Employing plaster, rubber, and cement, he has created sculptures resembling framed paintings, fossilized bones, antique urns, and household objects. “When I first decided to be an artist, I was interested in exploring self-referential angles on how our culture defines a ‘painting,’” he reflected. “I quickly realized that a painting is ultimately defined by its context. And all contexts are within other contexts within other contexts, so I’m always drawn into an ever-expanding idea of contexts.” He grew up in a family of artists, actors, and musicians, which led him to briefly pursue an acting career as a young man. Attending the Los Angeles Trade Technical College while working preparing meals for flights at the Los Angeles International Airport, he introduced himself to Fluxus writings and the works of Sol Lewitt. Switching careers, he took on an art handling job in West Hollywood, where he was introduced to a milieu of artists including Ed Kienholz, as well as curators and gallerists of the time. He moved to New York in 1975, where he first began producing the serial works for which he is now known. Over the following decades, McCollum has gone on to collaborate with several artists and institutions, including Laurie Simmons, Andrea Fraser, the International Center for Lighting Research and Testing in Florida, and the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum. He currently lives and works in New York, NY. Today, the artist’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, among others.
Allan McCollum, Collection of 8 Plaster Surrogates, 1989, enamel on cast hydrostone, dimensions variable
Allan McCollum, Collection of 9 Perfect Vehicles, 1988, 9 parts x 52 x 24 cm