Big Ideas

Doug Ashford

Past Event

This event was on Thursday 12 March, 7pm

The artist, writer and founder of New York artists’ collective Group Material presents the lecture Painting a Non-Human Being, which explores abstract painting’s relationship to form and representation.

What we may know from abstract painting is that it deploys form in order to steal experience away from the present, showing perhaps that the experience of a thing’s usefulness often conceals what it is.

Part of the Whitechapel Gallery’s ‘Big Ideas’ talk series – a platform for renowned speakers, from scholars and thinkers to curators and artists, to share and discuss their current research and work.

Supported by Stanley Picker Trust


Doug Ashford is an artist, teacher and writer based in New York. He is Associate Professor at The Cooper Union where he has taught sculpture, design, and interdisciplinary studies since 1989. Ashford’s principle visual practice from 1982 to 1996 was the multi-form practice of Group Material, whose work has been recently compiled in the book Show and Tell: A Chronicle of Group Material (Four Corners Books, 2010). Since 1996 he has continued to produce paintings, essays and collaborative projects that engage sociality with artistic form. His most recent public effort ended in the project Who Cares (Creative Time, 2006), a book built from a series of conversations between Ashford and other cultural practitioners on public expression, ethics, and beauty. Recent exhibitions of his paintings include “Abstract Possible”, Tensta Konsthall and other locations (2010-12), dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel (2012) and Bureau Publik, Copenhagen. A collection of essays, Doug Ashford: Writings and Conversation, (Mousse Publishing, 2013), was published on the occasion of his retrospective exhibition at the Grazer Kunstverein last year. He is represented by Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam.

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