Jack Pierson employs photography, collage, sculptural assemblage and installation in pursuit of love, longing, kinship, poetry, celebration, youth, fantasy and identity. The artist’s mode of non-hierarchical cultural compilation and a process of impulse-led editing allows Pierson to create personal and universal narratives across his multidisciplinary practice. Emerging from the 1980s milieu of the Boston School of documentarian photographers, Pierson was instead drawn into a world of gendered, punk-influenced performativity, and was greatly influenced by the more tactile work of his friend, Mark Morrisroe.
Pierson's move to New York via stays in Miami and Los Angeles saw the evolution of staging in his work. Depicting recollections of autobiographical nights out and days in the studio, he constructed melancholic sets of half-remembered experiences and occasional, ironic gestures of self-portraiture. Pierson’s collagistic approach also applies to his photography and ongoing accumulations of imagery, which evoke shared notions of reminiscence and desire. His first word sculptures, composed of discarded signage letters removed from their intended context, were found on the streets of New York's East Village and introduced a multiplicity of meaning into Pierson’s practice. They question what is staged and what is casual, a theme that is unquestionably his own, in which material, object, subject, fragment and life all coalesce.
Jack Pierson was born in 1960 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He lives and works in New York and in California. He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1984 where he participated in the Studio for Interrelated Media, one of the earliest formal academic programs for the study of performance art. Recent solo presentations include Jack Pierson at Museo Ettore Fico Torino, Italy (2021); Jack Pierson: 5 Shows from the ‘90s at Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO, USA (2017); and Jack Pierson at CAC Málaga, Málaga, Spain (2009). Select group exhibitions include High Desert Test Sites 2022 (HDTS 2022): The Searchers curated by Iwona Blazwick at Joshua Tree, CA, USA (2022); Any distance between us at RISD Museum, Providence, RI, USA (2021); Photography’s Last Century: The Collection of Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA (2020); and Be Seen: Portrait Photography Since Stonewall at Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, USA (2019).
Pierson’s work is found in major public collections, including Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA; CAPC Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA, USA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, USA; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, USA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY USA, and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, USA.
‘High Desert Test Sites 2022 (HDTS 2022): The Searchers,’ curated by Iwona Blazwick, Joshua Tree, CA, USA