Allan McCollum

Allan McCollum

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Allan McCollum is a contemporary American artist who was born in Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

 in 1944, and now lives and works in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. He has spent over forty years exploring how objects achieve public and personal meaning in a world constituted in mass production, focusing most recently on collaborations with small community historical society museums in different parts of the world. His first solo exhibition was in 1970, and his first New York showing was in an exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery
Sidney Janis
Sidney Janis was a wealthy clothing manufacturer and art collector who opened an art gallery in New York in 1948. His gallery quickly gained prominence, for he not only exhibited the work of most of the emerging leaders of Abstract Expressionism, but also that of such important European artists as...

 in 1972. In 1975, his work was included in the Whitney Biennial
Whitney Biennial
The Whitney Biennial is a biennale exhibition of contemporary American art, typically by young and lesser known artists, on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, USA. The event began as an annual exhibition in 1932, the first biennial was in 1973...

, and he moved to New York City that same year. In the late seventies he became especially well known for his series, Surrogate Paintings.

Early life


Allan McCollum was born in Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

, on August 4, 1944. In 1946, his family moved to Redondo Beach, California
Redondo Beach, California
Redondo Beach is one of the three Beach Cities located in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The population was 66,748 at the 2010 census, up from 63,261 at the 2000 census. The city is located in the South Bay region of the greater Los Angeles area.Redondo Beach was originally part of...

, where his three siblings were born, and where he lived until 1966. Both of his parents and many others in his family were active in the arts. His father, Warren McCollum, the son of an actress in New York and a child actor himself, performed a number of small parts on the Broadway stage, and a few small roles in movies in the late 1930s and early 1940s, including the role of “Jimmy Lane” in the 1938 cult classic, Reefer Madness
Reefer Madness
Reefer Madness is a well-known 1936 American propaganda exploitation film revolving around the melodramatic events that ensue when high school students are lured by pushers to try "marijuana" — from a hit and run accident, to manslaughter, suicide, attempted rape, and descent into madness...

; he remained active in local theater groups throughout much of his life, while working as a security guard at a local research corporation. His mother, Ann Hinton, daughter of a piano teacher and a cartographer, also performed regularly as an actress and singer in local theater productions, and as a piano accompanist to a local voice teacher. His mother’s brother, Sam Hinton
Sam Hinton
Sam Duffie Hinton was an American folk singer and marine biologist, best known for his music and harmonica playing. Hinton also taught at the University of California, San Diego, published books and magazine articles on marine biology, and worked as a calligrapher and artist.-Biography:Sam Hinton...

, was a well-known folk singer and folk music historian in Southern California
Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...

, and her sister’s husband was Jon Gnagy
Jon Gnagy
Jon Gnagy was a self-taught artist most remembered for being America's original television art instructor, hosting You Are an Artist, which began on the NBC network. On May 16, 1946, Jon Gnagy was the first "act" on the first television program broadcast from the antenna atop the Empire State...

, the popular television art instructor who between 1946 and 1970 had the longest continuously running show on television.

Education and early career


In 1964 McCollum moved to Essex, England, pursuing the idea of being an actor, and joined a local theater group in Southend-on-Sea
Southend-on-Sea
Southend-on-Sea is a unitary authority area, town, and seaside resort in Essex, England. The district has Borough status, and comprises the towns of Chalkwell, Eastwood, Leigh-on-Sea, North Shoebury, Prittlewell, Shoeburyness, Southchurch, Thorpe Bay, and Westcliff-on-Sea. The district is situated...

; but he changed his mind about a career in theater and returned to California in 1965, moved into a small mobile home
Mobile home
Mobile homes or static caravans are prefabricated homes built in factories, rather than on site, and then taken to the place where they will be occupied...

 park in Venice Beach, California, and attended Los Angeles Trade Technical College for five months, attempting to learn the trade of restaurant management and industrial kitchen work. For two years, he worked for Trans World Airlines
Trans World Airlines
Trans World Airlines was an American airline that existed from 1925 until it was bought out by and merged with American Airlines in 2001. It was a major domestic airline in the United States and the main U.S.-based competitor of Pan American World Airways on intercontinental routes from 1946...

 at the Los Angeles International Airport
Los Angeles International Airport
Los Angeles International Airport is the primary airport serving the Greater Los Angeles Area, the second-most populated metropolitan area in the United States. It is most often referred to by its IATA airport code LAX, with the letters pronounced individually...

, preparing meals for flights, but in 1967 he decided to educate himself as an artist. He learned quickly, influenced initially by reading the writings of the Fluxus
Fluxus
Fluxus—a name taken from a Latin word meaning "to flow"—is an international network of artists, composers and designers noted for blending different artistic media and disciplines in the 1960s. They have been active in Neo-Dada noise music and visual art as well as literature, urban planning,...

 artists and the early structuralists, and found a job as a truck driver and crate-builder for an art handling company in West Hollywood. Through this job he met many artists, art dealers, art collectors, and museum curators, learning much about the contemporary art world. During the late 1960s, McCollum produced his early work while living in small rented storefront spaces, first in Venice Beach, and later in Santa Monica; in 1970, he established a studio in a converted parking garage in Venice Beach, where he lived and worked until 1975. During these years, he exhibited his work regularly at the Nicholas Wilder Gallery and also at the Claire S. Copley Gallery, both in Los Angeles. His work was featured in a number of museum group exhibitions, including shows at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is an art museum in Los Angeles, California. It is located on Wilshire Boulevard along Museum Row in the Miracle Mile vicinity of Los Angeles, adjacent to the George C. Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits....

, the Pasadena Art Museum, the Long Beach Museum of Art
Long Beach Museum of Art
The Long Beach Museum of Art is a museum located on Ocean Boulevard in the Bluff Park neighborhood of Long Beach, California. The museum occupies the historic 1912 Elizabeth Milbank Anderson house and carriage house and a new two-story pavilion, and includes oceanfront gardens. The museum is open...

, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is an art museum located at 1130 State St. in downtown Santa Barbara, California.It was founded in 1941 and currently ranks amongst the top 10 regional art museums in the United States . It is home to both permanent and special collections, the former of which...

, the Oakland Museum, the San Francisco Art Institute
San Francisco Art Institute
San Francisco Art Institute is a school of higher education in contemporary art with the main campus in the Russian Hill district of San Francisco, California. Its graduate center is in the Dogpatch neighborhood. The private, non-profit institution is accredited by WASC and is a member of the...

, the Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum
The Seattle Art Museum is an art museum located in Seattle, Washington, USA. It maintains three major facilities: its main museum in downtown Seattle; the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill, and the Olympic Sculpture Park on the central Seattle waterfront, which opened on...

, the Detroit Institute of Arts
Detroit Institute of Arts
The Detroit Institute of Arts is a renowned art museum in the city of Detroit. In 2003, the DIA ranked as the second largest municipally owned museum in the United States, with an art collection valued at more than one billion dollars...

, the Krannert Art Museum
Krannert Art Museum
The Krannert Art Museum is a museum of art at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Champaign, Illinois, USA. It is the second-largest museum in Illinois, with of space devoted to all periods of art, from ancient Egyptian to contemporary photography...

, and the Whitney Museum of American Art
Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney Museum of American Art, often referred to simply as "the Whitney", is an art museum with a focus on 20th- and 21st-century American art. Located at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street in New York City, the Whitney's permanent collection contains more than 18,000 works in a wide variety of...

 in New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. In late 1975, he moved to the SoHo
SoHo
SoHo is a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, New York City, notable for being the location of many artists' lofts and art galleries, and also, more recently, for the wide variety of stores and shops ranging from trendy boutiques to outlets of upscale national and international chain stores...

 district of New York City, where he lives today.

Exhibition History




Perfect Vehicles, 1988. Acrylic latex on cast glass fiber reincorced concrete. Installation: Venice Biennale Aperto, 1988.

McCollum has had over 100 solo exhibitions, including retrospectives at the Musée d'Art Moderne, Villeneuve d'Ascq
Villeneuve d'Ascq
Villeneuve-d'Ascq is a commune in the Nord department in northern France. With more than 60,000 inhabitants, it is one of the main cities of the Urban Community of Lille Métropole and the largest in area after Lille ; it is also one of the main cities of the Nord-Pas de Calais region.Built up...

, Lille, France (1998); the Sprengel Museum
Sprengel Museum
The Sprengel Museum in Hanover houses one of the most significant collections of modern art in Germany. It is located in a building designed by Peter and Ursula Trint and Dieter Quast , adjacent to the Maschsee...

, Hannover, Germany (1995–96); the Serpentine Gallery
Serpentine Gallery
The Serpentine Gallery is an art gallery in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, central London. It focuses on modern and contemporary art. The exhibitions, architecture, education and public programmes attract approximately 750,000 visitors a year...

, London (1990); the Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art
Rooseum
The Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, located in Malmö, Sweden, was a formally private-owned centre for contemporary art. Founded in 1988 by the Swedish art collector and financier Fredrik Roos, the Rooseum promoted experimental relationships between art, artists and audience, by offering...

, Malmo, Sweden (1990); IVAM Centre del Carme
Institut Valencià d'Art Modern
The Institut Valencià d'Art Modern in Catalan or was the first center of modern art created in Spain, opening in 1989. The Institut Valencià d'Art Modern is the most important centers for modern and contemporary art in Valencia, Spain and Europe.It shows continuous developments of art and...

, Valencia, Spain (1990); Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum
Van Abbemuseum
Van Abbemuseum is a museum of modern and contemporary art located in central Eindhoven, Netherlands, on the east bank of the Dommel river. Established in 1936, the Abbe Museum is named after its founder, Abbe Henri. Abbe was a lover of modern art and wanted to enjoy it there from Eindhoven...

, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (1989), and Portikus
Portikus
Portikus is an exhibition hall for contemporary art in Frankfurt am Main, originally founded in 1987 through the initiation of Kasper König, one of the most influential living curators of contemporary art. It's name derives from the surviving portico of the Stadtbibliothek from 1825 that was...

, Frankfurt, Germany (1988).

He participated in the Aperto at the 1988 Venice Biennale
Venice Biennale
The Venice Biennale is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years in Venice, Italy. The Venice Film Festival is part of it. So too is the Venice Biennale of Architecture, which is held in even years...

, his works have been exhibited in the United States White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

, he has produced numerous public art projects in the United States and Europe, and his works are held in over seventy art museum collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is an art museum in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It has been important in developing and collecting modernist art, and is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world...

, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art
Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney Museum of American Art, often referred to simply as "the Whitney", is an art museum with a focus on 20th- and 21st-century American art. Located at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street in New York City, the Whitney's permanent collection contains more than 18,000 works in a wide variety of...

, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is a well-known museum located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City, United States. It is the permanent home to a renowned collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern, and contemporary art and also features special exhibitions...

, the Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is one of America's largest accredited independent schools of art and design, located in the Loop in Chicago, Illinois. It is associated with the museum of the same name, and "The Art Institute of Chicago" or "Chicago Art Institute" often refers to either...

, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

In 2008, McCollum exhibited 1800 drawings from his 1988-91 Drawings project at the 28th Bienal de São Paulo
São Paulo Art Biennial
The São Paulo Art Biennial was founded in 1951 and has been held every two years since. It is the second oldest art biennial in the world after the Venice Biennial , which serves as its role model....

 in São Paulo, Brazil.

Artwork


McCollum’s family history, his experiences and training at working in industrial kitchens, and his interest in theater and Fluxus, including “task-oriented” performance art, offered him a unique take on labor and art, and the methods and systems of quantity-production showed themselves in his artwork from the very beginning. He is known for utilizing the methods of mass production
Mass production
Mass production is the production of large amounts of standardized products, including and especially on assembly lines...

 in his work in many different ways, often creating thousands of objects that, while produced in large quantity, are each unique. In 1988-91 he created over thirty thousand completely unique objects he titled Individual Works, which were gathered and exhibited in collections of over ten thousand. The objects were made by taking many dozens of rubber molds
Molding (process)
Molding or moulding is the process of manufacturing by shaping pliable raw material using a rigid frame or model called a pattern....

 from common household objects—like bottle caps, food containers, and kitchen tools—and combining plaster casts of these parts in thousands of possible ways, never repeating a combination. In 1989, he used a similar system to create thousands of handmade graphite pencil drawings, using hundreds of plastic drafting templates he designed for this purpose, each drawing made unique by combining the templates according to a combinatorial protocol that never repeated itself.



Allan McCollum: Mount Signal and Its Sand Spikes, 1999/2000. Plaster replicas of a Sand Spike from Mount Signal, one concrete enlargement, and paintings of Mount Signal by local artists. Collaboration with the Imperial Valley Historical Society Pioneers Museum, in Imperial, California.


Beginning in the early nineties, McCollum expanded his interests in quantity production to include explorations into the ways regional communities give meaning to local landmarks and geological oddities in establishing community identity, and collaborated with a number of small towns and small historical museums in Europe and throughout the United States, bringing attention to the way local narratives develop around objects peculiar to geographic regions, and drawing comparisons to the way artworks develop meaning in a parallel manner. Often these projects involved reproducing local objects in quantity, or creating models or copies of local artifacts and symbols. In 1995, he collaborated with the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum
College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum
The USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum, formerly known as the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum, is a museum accredited by the American Association of Museums located in Price, Utah. The museum seeks to promote public understanding of prehistory through interpretive exhibits, educational...

 in Price, Utah
Price, Utah
Price is a city in Carbon County, Utah, United States. The city is home to the USU-College of Eastern Utah, as well as the large USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum affiliated with the college. Price is located within short distances from both Nine Mile Canyon and the Manti-La Sal National Forest...

, to make replicas of their entire collection of dinosaur track casts, and exhibited these in New York and throughout Europe; in 1997 he collaborated with the International Center for Lightning Research and Testing in Starke, Florida
Starke, Florida
Starke is a city in Bradford County, Florida, United States. The population was 5,593 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 5,769 ....

, to trigger lightning with rockets
Lightning rocket
The term lightning rocket can generically describe a rocket device used to trigger lightning as well as a specific system patented by Robert E. Betts....

, and worked with a local souvenir manufacturer to create over 10,000 replicas of a fulgurite
Fulgurite
Fulgurites are natural hollow glass tubes formed in quartzose sand, or silica, or soil by lightning strikes. They are formed when lightning with a temperature of at least instantaneously melts silica on a conductive surface and fuses grains together; the fulgurite tube is the cooled product...

 created by the lightning strike; in 2000 he collaborated with the Pioneers Museum in the desert community of Imperial Valley, California
Imperial Valley
The Imperial Valley is an agricultural area of Southern California's Imperial County. It is located in southeastern Southern California, centered around the city of El Centro. Locally, the terms "Imperial Valley" and "Imperial County" are used synonymously. The Valley is bordered between the...

, to reproduce souvenir copies and large models of their local mountain, Mount Signal, and the unique 'Sand Spike' sand concretions
Concretion
A concretion is a volume of sedimentary rock in which a mineral cement fills the porosity . Concretions are often ovoid or spherical in shape, although irregular shapes also occur. The word 'concretion' is derived from the Latin con meaning 'together' and crescere meaning 'to grow'...

 found at its base; and in 2003, he created 120 topographical models
Raised-relief map
A raised-relief map or terrain model is a three-dimensional representation, usually of terrain. When representing terrain, the elevation dimension is usually exaggerated by a factor between five and ten; this facilitates the visual recognition of terrain features.-History:In his 1665 paper for the...

 of the states of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 and Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, which he donated and delivered himself to 120 small historical society museums in both states.
In 2005, the artist designed The Shapes Project
The Shapes Project
Working in 2005-2006, American artist Allan McCollum designed The Shapes Project, a combinatorial system to produce unique two-dimensional "shapes." The system allows for the making of enough unique shapes for every person on the planet to have one of their own...

, a combinatorial system to produce "a completely unique shape for every person on the planet, without repeating." The system involves organizing a basic vocabulary of 300 "parts" which can be combined in over 30 billion different ways, created as "vector files
Vector graphics
Vector graphics is the use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygon, which are all based on mathematical expressions, to represent images in computer graphics...

" in a computer drawing program. McCollum has used the system in collaborations with a community library, schoolchildren, home craftworkers, writers, architects, and other artists, as the Shapes are created to be used for many different kinds of projects, and so far have been produced in the form of both prints and sculpture, in Plexiglas, Corian
Corian
Corian is the brand name for a solid surface material created by DuPont. It is composed of acrylic polymer and alumina trihydrate. Corian can be thermoformed by heating it to 300°F , allowing unique shapes to be created...

, plywood
Plywood
Plywood is a type of manufactured timber made from thin sheets of wood veneer. It is one of the most widely used wood products. It is flexible, inexpensive, workable, re-usable, and can usually be locally manufactured...

, hardwoods, metals, rubber, and fabric, in a variety of sizes. In 2010, he published "The Book of Shapes", in collaboration with mfc-michèle didier. This book makes the Shapes Project complete : The first volume contains the 300 shapes "parts," and the second one includes the guides and instructions for creating all possible combinations with these components. That same year, he organized the Shapes for Hamilton project, in which a unique signed and dated Shapes print was made for each of the 6,000+ residents of the town of Hamilton, New York.

Collaborations and Writings


McCollum has occasionally collaborated with other artists in producing projects, including Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler
Louise Lawler is a U.S. artist and photographer. From the late 1970s onwards, Lawler's work has focused on the presentation and marketing of artwork. Much of this work consists of photographs of other peoples' artwork and the context in which it is viewed...

 (1983, 1984, 1988, 1996), Andrea Fraser
Andrea Fraser
Andrea Fraser is a New York-based performance artist, mainly known for her work in the area of institutional critique. She is currently a member of the Art Department faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles.-Position:...

 (1991), Laurie Simmons
Laurie Simmons
Laurie Simmons is an American artist and photographer currently working in New York.- Personal life :Laurie Simmons was born in Long Island, New York, in 1949. She received a BFA from Tyler School of Art in 1971...

 (1984), Matt Mullican (2004), Andrea Zittel
Andrea Zittel
Andrea Zittel is an American practicing sculptor, installation artist, and Relational artist.-Early Life:Born in Escondido, California in 1965, Zittel graduated from San Pasqual High School in 1983...

 (2007), and Allen Ruppersberg
Allen Ruppersberg
Born in 1944 in Cleveland, Ohio. Allen Ruppersberg is one of the first generation of American Conceptual artists that changed the way art was thought about and made. His work includes paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, installations, and books.- Biography :...

 (2008). He has also written texts and interviewed fellow artists for books and catalogs, including Matt Mullican (1979 and 2006) Allen Ruppersberg
Allen Ruppersberg
Born in 1944 in Cleveland, Ohio. Allen Ruppersberg is one of the first generation of American Conceptual artists that changed the way art was thought about and made. His work includes paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, installations, and books.- Biography :...

 (1999), Andrea Zittel
Andrea Zittel
Andrea Zittel is an American practicing sculptor, installation artist, and Relational artist.-Early Life:Born in Escondido, California in 1965, Zittel graduated from San Pasqual High School in 1983...

 (2001), Roxy Paine
Roxy Paine
Roxy Paine is an American artist. He was educated at both the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico and the Pratt Institute in New York....

 (2002), and Harrell Fletcher
Harrell Fletcher
Harrell Fletcher is an American artist in Portland, Oregon who creates socially engaged interdisciplinary projects.-Early work:While completing his degree at California College of Arts and Crafts, Fletcher began collaborating with artist Jon Rubin...

 (2005).

External links