Back to Calendar

Formal Forms

© Sara Pooley. Courtesy of Theaster Gates Studio.


Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA

Using the poetic sermon, artist Theaster Gates will share a monologue on the creation of temporary and semi-permanent structures as a necessary part of his practice.

Whether it is the creation of intellectual property entities or joint ventures that allow shared ideation and ensure long-term commitments to a project, Gates will unpack the messy work associated with doing large city projects and administratively complicated works of “art.”

Born in 1973, Theaster Gates lives and works in his hometown of Chicago. His art focuses on space theory and land development, sculpture and performance. Drawing on his interest and training in urban planning and preservation, he redeems spaces that have been left behind and brings the conversation of space to the forefront of contemporary art practice.

Known for his recirculation of art-world capital, Gates creates work centered on the possibility of the “life within things.” He smartly upturns art values, land values, and human values. In all aspects of his practice he contends with the notion of Black space as a formal exercise—one defined by collective desire, artistic agency, and the tactics of a pragmatist.

Following his talk, Gates will be in conversation with Sarah Lewis, assistant professor of history of art and architecture and African American studies at Harvard.

Gates has exhibited and performed at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2017); Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada (2016); Fondazione Prada, Milan (2016); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013); Punta della Dogana, Venice (2013); and dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012). He received the Artes Mundi 6 prize in 2013 and the 2018 Nasher Prize for Sculpture.

The lecture will take place in Menschel Hall, Lower Level. Please enter the museums via the entrance on Broadway.

Free admission, but limited seating is available. Tickets will be distributed beginning at 5:30pm at the Broadway entrance. One ticket per person.

Complimentary parking available in the Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, Cambridge.

Co-sponsored by the Department of African and African American Studies, the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African American Art at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, the Department of History of Art and Architecture, and the Harvard Art Museums.

Support for this program is provided by the M. Victor Leventritt Fund, which was established through the generosity of the wife, children, and friends of the late M. Victor Leventritt, Harvard Class of 1935. The purpose of the fund is to present outstanding scholars of the history and theory of art to the Harvard and Greater Boston communities.

Modern and contemporary art programs at the Harvard Art Museums are made possible in part by generous support from the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art.