In the disjointed art community of the early 2000s, a scene of energetic young artists emerged in downtown New York, a generation that didn't have a discernable identity. Dan Colen became the face of the Millennial art scene on New York’s Lower East Side - the so-called ‘Bowery School’. He thus developed into one of the most accomplished and promising multimedia neo-pop artists of his generation.
Born in New Jersey in 1979, Colen graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design in 2001. His artistic production includes paintings and sculptures with cultural references, photographs, graffiti-inspired text paintings, ready-mades, films and large installations with performative elements - Colen’s artwork could not be more diverse. What critics previously complained about is now part of the Millennial aesthetic: instead of developing a unique artistic style, solo careers are beginning to resemble group shows. “I’m on a journey. I’m not interested in singular things” (Dan Colen).
Colen started his career by producing a series of photorealistic paintings populated by fantasy characters, followed by a series of paintings featuring Disney-style burning candles. He went on to explore spray paint on canvas, chewing gum as an abstract technique and paint which looks like bird droppings.
Drawing from mass media, environmental experience and sub-cultural language, Dan Colen’s work infuses a sense of magic in the undervalued and ordinary. At the same time, there are elements of religious metaphysics and Walt Disney cartoon aesthetics which constitute his prolific style of blending the controversial with the deeply poetic.
Much of his work shares formal similarities with Abstract Expressionism and dialogues with art historical precursors such as Jackson Pollock or Yves Klein, yet it is also loaded with multilayered meanings and achieves a unique balance between form and content: Hyperrealism confronts graffiti and Abstract Expressionism.
Colen’s work has been shown internationally at galleries and in exhibitions including Gagosian Gallery and Barbara Gladstone Gallery in New York, The New Museum, New York, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island, New York, Peres Projects in Berlin, OHWOW in Los Angeles, The Royal Academy of Arts in London, the 2006 Whitney Biennial in New York and The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo. His works are held in numerous private and public collections such as The Saatchi Gallery, The Whitney Museum or the Astrup Fearnley Museum.