Lyle Ashton Harris has cultivated a diverse artistic practice ranging from photography and collage to installation and performance art. His work explores intersections between the personal and the political, examining the impact of ethnicity, gender, and desire on the contemporary social and cultural dynamic. The exhibited work is from a series of photogravures consisting of performative self-portraits, ranging from portrayals of the jazz singer, Billie Holiday, and a bloodied boxer, to layered mise-en-scènes and multiple exposures evoking modernism’s ambivalent “negrophilia.” A selection of twenty works from this series (with accompanying text by Anna Deavere Smith) was included in a monograph titled, “Lyle Ashton Harris”, and was published by Gregory R. Miller in 2003.
Harris has been widely exhibited internationally, including in “Photography’s Last Century” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; in “Basquiat’s ‘Defacement’: The Untold Story’’ and “Implicit Tensions: Mapplethorpe Now” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; in “United by AIDS” at Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich; in “Kiss My Genders” at the Haywood Gallery, London; in “Tell Me Your Story” at Kunsthal KaDE, Amersfoort, NL; in “Elements of Vogue” at the Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid (traveled to Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City). Harris’s work was included in the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007), the Busan Biennial, South Korea (2008), the Bienal de São Paulo (2016), the Whitney Biennial (2017), and presented by Cinéma Du Réel at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2018).
Harris is represented in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, Annendale-on-Hudson, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Tate Modern, London, UK; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland, among others.
Born in the Bronx, New York, raised in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and New York, Harris obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University, a Master of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts, and attended the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program.