BiographyBorn in Medford, Oregon, 1963
Lives & Works in Portland, Oregon
"If your eyes are open, you can see the face of the divine wherever you look. I found the face of the divine in a tattered stuffed animal radiating the inner light of kitsch."
Blending themes of pop culture with techniques reminiscent of the old masters, Mark Ryden has devised a singular style that blurs traditional boundaries. His work first garnered attention in the 1990s as he ushered in a new genre of painting, “Pop Surrealism,” which developed the scope and spirit of the 20th century surrealism by embellishing its vocabulary with contemporary cultural references.
Ryden’s work exquisitely renders a universe replete with fantastical characters amid enchanted landscapes that embody the artist’s meticulously realized signature blend of archetype, kitsch, and narrative mysticism. Ryden’s modern mythologies inseparably interweave twin senses of comfort and menace. “Most of my work engages with the relationship between the physical world and the spiritual world,” he has said. His are scenes that exist in the ambiguous space between these two realms, in which nostalgia—and by extension memory, even death—are ever-present.
This time-honored, artistic craftsmanship elevates heavily sentimentalized elements of American tradition and antiquity, collected as though for a cabinet of wonders. The labor-intensive canvases deftly rework centuries of art history, combining the grandeur of Spanish and Italian religious painting with the decorative richness of Old Master compositions and the lush textures of French Neoclassicism. His ornately carved frames and meticulously glazed surfaces lend the paintings a baroque exuberance that adds gravity to their enigmatic themes.
Takashi Murakami has said: “Mark Ryden, Yoshitomo Nara, and I, among others, belong to a generation of artists who have been facing in the same general direction. What I mean by the ‘same direction’ is that as children, we were baptized in subculture and that experience remains intensely imprinted on each of our beings. When we subsequently began painting in our adolescent years, we also started to study art history while simultaneously developing our painting technique. Once we had full command of both of these, we succeeded in combining historical painting methods with subculture. That, in a nutshell, is our generation.”
Ryden’s collaboration with the American Ballet Theatre to reimagine Schlagobers, the Richard Strauss libretto and score first performed at the Vienna State Opera in 1924, places Ryden within a rarefied tradition of visual artists in collaboration with dance. With Whipped Cream, Ryden joins an eminent cadre of artists who have designed sets and costumes for iconic ballet performances. The Art of Whipped Cream was exhibited at Kasmin Gallery and at the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery Met at the Metropolitan Opera House.
Mark Ryden received his BFA in 1987 from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. His paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, including a career-spanning retrospective Cámara de las maravillas at The Centro de Arte Contemporáneo of Málaga, as well as an earlier retrospective Wondertoonel at the Frye Museum of Art in Seattle and Pasadena Museum of California Art. Mark Ryden currently lives and works in Portland, Oregon.
Mark Ryden: Animal SecretsMay 19 – July 30, 2022Perrotin and Kasmin are delighted to announce a jointly organized exhibition of new work by American artist Mark Ryden (b. 1963, United States). Animal Secrets is presented in Perrotin’s Paris gallery from May 19–July 30, 2022, comprising 10 paintings and 12 works on paper that further develop the artist’s series of portraiture featuring mysterious and mythical creatures. The resulting gallery of enchanted characters embodies the artist’s meticulously-realized signature blend of archetype, kitsch, and narrative mysticism. Animal Secrets is conceived alongside the artist’s most recent exhibition at Perrotin Tokyo, Yakalina 9.
Mark Ryden: Yakalina 9In collaboration with Perrotin, Tokyo April 1 – May 30, 2022Kasmin and Perrotin are delighted to announce a jointly organized exhibition of new works by American artist Mark Ryden (b. 1963, United States). Yakalina 9 will be presented in Perrotin's Tokyo gallery from April 1–May 30, 2022. Encompassing the newly created series of bronze sculptures and drawings of the mysterious entity Yakalina, the exhibition is conceived as a component of the artist's upcoming exhibition, Animal Secrets, opening at Perrotin Paris in May.
Mark Ryden: Anima AnimalsJuly 3 – August 29, 2020Kasmin and Perrotin are delighted to announce a jointly organized exhibition of new works by American painter Mark Ryden (b. 1963, United States). Featuring approximately forty works from the artist’s latest series, Anima Animals, the exhibition will be on view at Perrotin’s Shanghai gallery from July 3, 2020. This also marks the artist’s first solo show in China.
Mark Ryden at PMQ in Hong KongMarch 26 – April 4, 2018Quintessence 132 - Macro Dodecahedron is a sculptural work that continues Mark Ryden’s exploration of the dodecahedron as a unique geometric form with significant mathematical and philosophical resonance. The dodecahedron belongs to a small group of five geometric solids that share a simple set of parameters: the same polygon on every face, and the same number of faces at each vertex.
Mark Ryden: The Art of Whipped CreamMay 20 – July 28, 2017Paul Kasmin Gallery is pleased to present Mark Ryden: The Art of Whipped Cream on view at 515 West 27th Street, May 20 – July 28, 2017. The exhibition will feature drawings, sketches and paintings created for the production of American Ballet Theatre’s Whipped Cream. A concurrent exhibition of Ryden's work for the ballet will be held at Gallery Met located at the Metropolitan Opera House, May 19 – July 8, 2017.
Mark Ryden: DodecahedronDecember 10, 2015 – January 23, 2016Paul Kasmin Gallery is pleased to announce Dodecahedron, Mark Ryden’s second exhibition at the gallery, on view at 293 10th Avenue from December 10, 2015 - January 23, 2016. Dodecahedron features the Los Angeles-based artist’s first-ever bronze sculpture, along with eight new paintings, drawings, color studies and a new porcelain edition.
Mark Ryden x BarbiePink Pop at 8382 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA October 21, 2022
USA For UNHCRArt And Resilience Benefit Auction April 29, 2021
Mark Ryden: Anima AnimalsNew Monograph December 15, 2020
Mark Ryden reviewed in The New York Timesby Robin Pogrebin May 19, 2017Painters and choreographers have a history of collaboration; Marc Chagall designed the sets and costumes for Adolph Bolm’s “Firebird” at Ballet Theater in 1945, and...
Mark Ryden interviewed in LA Weeklyby Falling James March 17, 2017Reality and fantasy don’t collide in Mark Ryden’s art so much as they are equal halves of a more natural and dreamlike world. The longtime...
Mark Ryden featured in The New York Timesby Roslyn Sulcas March 10, 2017A Viennese pastry shop, dancing sweets, a little boy who overindulges and a revolution by the lower pastry orders. An almost unknown Richard Strauss score....
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