• Purgatory, 2017, Oil on canvas, 89 1/2 x 119 inches (227.3 x 302.3 cm)

Dan Colen

Dan Colen

Spanning painting, sculpture, photography, performance, and installation, Dan Colen’s oeuvre explores the tensions between figuration and abstraction, the abject and the sublime, the timely and the timeless. Colen’s earliest paintings investigate the forms and characters that populate our collective imagination. Today, he continues to probe cultural mythologies and archetypes in various media, appropriating imagery from animated films, mail-order catalogues, modernist abstraction, and street graffiti to create an artistic lexicon that insistently collapses the boundaries between high and low.

In 2006, Colen began making colorful and formally expressive paintings using chewing gum instead of paint, beginning a long period of material experimentation in which he mined and questioned various established historical styles—Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and Conceptualism, for example. That year, three of the artist’s megalithic rock sculptures featuring chewing gum and graffiti were included in the Whitney Biennial. Using flowers, dirt, grass, tar and feathers, Mylar confetti, and street trash, Colen’s abstract surfaces replicate street art, accumulations of bird droppings, and nonsensical slogans on monuments and public sites. His 2015 exhibition at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, presented a group of multicolored abstract paintings done in bubblegum, bridging the gap between Abstract Expressionism and sidewalk detritus. Recent sculptural installations, such as Cracks in the Clouds  (2010) at New York’s Seagram Building and At Least They Died Together (2014) at the Brant Foundation, Greenwich, CT, imbue the spare language of Minimalism with emotional depth. Colen continues to pursue a variety of concerns with conceptual rigor, humor, and experimental innovation.

Dan Colen was born in 1979 in Leonia, New Jersey. He received his B.F.A. in 2001 from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence. His work is held in various public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and the de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space, Miami. Recent solo exhibitions include Help! at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Connecticut (2014); The L...o...n...g Count at the Walter De Maria Building, New York (2014); Psychic Slayer at the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark (2015); Shake the Elbow at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2015); and Oil Painting at the Dallas Contemporary (2016). Colen's work will be the subject of an exhibition in Asia in 2019.

Dan Colen currently lives and works in New York.


Selected Works

  • Pretzel bender
    Gum on canvas
    28 x 22 x 1 1/2 inches (71.1 x 56 x 3.8 cm)

  • Purgatory
    Oil on canvas
    89 1/2 x 119 inches (227.3 x 302.3 cm)

  • The Buried Moon
    Studs on canvas
    131 x 106 inches (332 3/4 x 269 1/4 cm)

  • Viscera
    Oil on canvas
    112 1/2 x 202 inches



Dan Colen: Mailorder Mother Purgatory

May 11, 2018


Other Exhibitions


Selected Press

Artnet | ‘The Art World Mechanism Really Wants to Define You’: Onetime Bad-Boy Artist Dan Colen on Achieving Maturity in His Work

July 6, 2018

On the heels of a show at New York's Lévy Gorvy Gallery, Colen talks about his latest work—and a …

Blouin Artinfo | Top Art Shows in New York This Week, June 8 through 14: Giacometti to Joaquín Torres-García

June 7, 2018

Last Chance to See: “Dan Colen: Mailorder Mother Purgatory” at Lévy Gorvy

Artnet | Wizened Dan Colen Tackles the Anxieties of Adulthood and Mailorder Catalogues at Lévy Gorvy

May 11, 2018

Mailorder Mother Purgatory explores a post-bad boy Colen grappling with domesticity.

Widewalls | 8 Gallery Shows to See in New York During Frieze Week

May 2, 2018

The artist’s inaugural exhibition at the Lévy Gorvy gallery, the show Dan Colen: Mailorder Mother …

Surface Magazine | Weekend Cheat Sheet: April 30 - May 6, 2018

May 2, 2018

Spanning painting, sculpture, photography, performance, and installation, Dan Colen’s oeuvre explores …

Blouin Artinfo | “Mailorder Mother Purgatory” at Lévy Gorvy, New York

May 1, 2018

The show celebrates both the news of Colen’s representation by the gallery but also a marked evolution …

Art Daily | Lévy Gorvy opens first exhibition with Dan Colen

May 1, 2018

Spanning painting, sculpture, photography, performance, and installation, Dan Colen’s oeuvre explores …

Artlyst | Alt Power 100 ArtLyst 2017 – Meet The Alternative Powerhouses

October 31, 2017

The list includes Brett Gorvy and Dan Colen.

CNN | Frieze Week 2017: Curator Hans Ulrich Obrist's picks

October 5, 2017

"I was very struck by this exhibition. We have always known Colen as a painter. There are paintings in …

Artnews | Dan Colen on His Rollicking, Career-Spanning Show at Damien Hirst’s Gallery in London

October 3, 2017

...the show takes his practice to new places. There’s an intervention sure to cause some head scratching: …

Artsy | What Sold at EXPO Chicago

September 17, 2017

Lévy Gorvy was another international gallery with a first-time presence at EXPO Chicago, lured, again, …

Artdaily | Lévy Gorvy to represent Dan Colen

June 1, 2017

In close collaboration with the artist, Lévy Gorvy will foster Colen’s work and its place within the …

Artlyst | Dan Colen To Be Represented By Lévy Gorvy In New International Partnership

June 1, 2017

The gallery will have a close collaboration with the artist, to foster Colen’s work and its place within …

Artnet | Lévy Gorvy to Co-Represent Dan Colen, the Reformed ‘Bad Boy’ of New York’s Art World

May 31, 2017

Lévy Gorvy, the Upper East Side gallery led by Dominique Lévy and former Christie’s rainmaker Brett …

Artnews | Lévy Gorvy to Represent Dan Colen in Collaboration with Gagosian, Massimo De Carlo

May 31, 2017

Dominique Lévy and Brett Gorvy announced that they will share representation of 37-year-old artist Dan …


Specializing in Works By