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 David Altmejd  (1974 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/Quebec / Canada/England      Known for: mod horrific figure sculpture, installation, assemblage

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
The New North
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
David Altmejd  BFA, MFA (1974)

“I am so not interested in art making as a way to communicate a specific idea. That is so boring to me. It makes the art nothing but an illustration. I want my works to have intelligence of their own, not just be slave to my meaning.” – David Altmejd (1)

David Altmejd is a controversial sculptor, assemblage* artist and installation* artist. Since his graduation from university in 1998 his works have been included in numerous important exhibitions in Canada, the United States and Europe; examples of it have been acquired for several important museum collections; and his “The New North” achieved one of the highest prices at auction for a work by a living Canadian artist. (2)

He was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, has lived in London, England and presently (2010) lives in New York City.

His mediums are found objects*, Plexiglas*, fake hair, artificial flowers, chain, glitter, acrylic paint, plaster, thread and almost anything else. (3)

The subjects include figures, werewolves, giants, corpses, social commentary, sexuality, mythology, allegory*, fantasy, symbolism*, humor, horror, death, rebirth and dismemberment. His styles include Surrealism*, Neo-Gothic Surrealism, Expressionism* and Conceptual Art*.  (4)

Quote: I am really not interested in gore. What I make has to be positive and seductive. Instead of rotting, the characters in my work are crystallizing. This makes the narratives of the pieces move towards life rather than death." – David Altmejd (5)

According to the artist, his grotesque, macabre and complex creations can have different and coexisting valid meanings to every viewer.

Quotes: “... just because I made the object doesn’t mean I get to determine what the object is saying.” and  “I want to make an installation and then at a certain point step back and say “Wow, that’s amazing. It is going in all sorts of different places; it is a thing on its own.”– David Altmejd  (6)

Quote: “Altmejd conceives of his installations as living organisms pulsing with potential energy, and he has described the labyrinthine architectural structures that house his creatures as the systems that both trigger and circulate this energy.” – Ted Mann, Guggenheim (7)

Altmejd’s formal art education includes a Bachelor of Fine arts degree from the University of Quebec, Montreal (1998) and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University, New York (2001). (8)

Since graduation in 1998, his works have been included in numerous important public venue group exhibitions including: “Artifice 98”, Saidye Bronfman Art Center, Montreal (1998); “Interval: New Art for New Space”, Sculpture Center, New York (2001); the “8th Istanbul Biennial”, Turkey (2003), “Art Forum Berlin”, Germany (2003); “Whitney Biennial”, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2004); “Ideal Worlds. New Romanticism in Contemporary Art”, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Germany (2005); “The Echo of the Limbs”, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montréal (2005); “Blake & Sons: Alternative Lifestyles and Mysticism in Contemporary Art,” Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College, Cork, Ireland (2005); “The Guggenheim Collection”, Kunsthalle Bonn, Germany (2006); “The Eighth Square”, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany (2006); “Six Feet Under: Autopsy of Our Dealing With the Dead”, Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland (2006); "The New Authentics: Artists of the Post-Jewish Generation”, Spertus Museum, Chicago (2007); “Star Power: Museum as Body Electric”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (2007); “52nd Venice Biennale”, Canadian Pavilion, Venice, Italy (2007); “Intruders”, Quebec Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec City (2008); “Freeway Balconies”, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Germany (2008); “Triennial of Québec Art”, Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, Quebec (2008); “Installations: Selections from the Guggenheim Collections", Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain (2008); “Liverpool Biennial”, Tate Liverpool, UK (2008); “Sweep-me off my Feet", Quebec Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec City (2009); "Performance/Art", Dallas Museum of Art, Texas (2009); “Disorder in the House”, Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels, Belgium (2009); “The Visceral Body”, Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada (2010); “Skin Fruit: Selections from the Dakis Joannou Collection” [curated by Jeff Koons], New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2010); and "Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum Rotunda", Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010). (9)

His solo exhibitions began in 1998 with shows at Galerie SKOL, Montréal and Galerie Clark, Montreal. Since then the venues for his private gallery solo and group exhibitions have included Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York; Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London, England; Xavier Hufkens, Brussels; Galerie Optica, Montreal; Galerie Ghislaine Hussenot, Paris, France; Ten in One Gallery, New York; Galerie B-312, Montreal; Anton Kern Gallery, New York; LFL Gallery, New York, NY; D’Amelio Terras Gallery, New York; and Birch Libralato, Toronto.

He’s also had solo exhibitions at public venues such as Oakville Galleries, Gairloch Gardens, Ontario (2007); Fundació La Caixa Museum, Barcelona, Spain (2007); Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Alberta College of Art & Design, Calgary, Alberta (2007); Gallery Met at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York (2008); Centre National d’Art Contemporain de Grenoble, Grenoble, France (2009); and Les Abattoirs, Toulouse, France (2009).

Currently (April 23, 2010 – March 12, 2011), the Altmejd solo exhibition “Colossi” is on display at Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels, Belgium. (10)

Altmejd’s works are in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York) and the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto). (11)

Among his awards is the prestigious Sobey Art Award* in 2009. (12)


(1) Source: 2003 interview by Randy Gladman –

(2) Source for auction results: AskART and the 2010 edition of the “Canadian Art Sales Index” (2009) published by Westbridge Publications Ltd., Vancouver, B.C. Note: Among those still living, Jeff Wall tops the list with “The Well” which sold for $1,243,250.00 on July 1, 2008 at Sotheby’s, London; Alexander Colville is second with “Two Pacers” which sold for $553,620.00 on May 23, 2007 at Heffel’s, Vancouver, B.C.;  Altmejd’s “The New North” would be the third highest at $254,500.00 (all prices are USF).

(3) The Guggenheim’s description of “University 2” (2004), in their permanent collection, is a good example – “Wood, paint, plaster, resin, mirrored glass, Plexiglas, wire, glue, plastic, cloth, synthetic hair, jewelry, glitter, minerals, paper, beads, synthetic flowers, electricity, and light bulbs, 107 x 215 x 252 inches.” Source:

(4) Sources: AskART Images; Andrea Rosen Gallery. New York; museum illustrations and descriptions of mediums; Life in the Fast Lane (article May 23, 2007) –; Vanhaerents Art Collection –; and Randy Gladman article in Akrylic “21st Century Werewolf Aesthetics:  An interview with David Altmejd” –
Note: Neo-Gothic Surrealism refers to an art style predominantly applied to works of supernatural fiction that focus on themes of melancholy, fantasy and off-color humor. It has many of the same properties of typical surrealism, but carries with it specific characteristics such as personification and Halloween themes. "Modern Gothic", was used by Jerry Saltz, in his February 2004 article in the Village Voice, to describe Altmejd's work. Sources: Wikibin and  Jerry Saltz “Modern Gothic.” The Village Voice 4 Feb. 2004: C85.

(5) Source: Randy Gladman article in Akrylic “21st Century Werewolf Aesthetics:  An interview with David Altmejd” based on 2003 interview –

(6) Source: 2007, Life in the Fast Lane interview with David Altmejd –
(7) Source: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum  –

(8) Source: Andrea Rosen Gallery –

(9) Sources for all exhibitions: Saatchi Gallery –; and Andrea Rosen Gallery -

(10) Source: Vanhaerents Art Collection –

(11) Museum website sources: NGC –; Guggenheim –; Whitney –; AGO –

(12) Source: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia –

The Sobey Art Award, Canada’s preeminent award for emerging contemporary Canadian artists, was created in 2002 by the Sobey Art Foundation. It is an annual prize given to an artist under 40 who has exhibited in a public or commercial art gallery within 18 months of being nominated. A total of $70,000 in prize money is awarded annually; $50,000 to the winner and $5,000 to the other four finalists. Since its inception, the Sobey Art Award and accompanying exhibition have been organized and administered by the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Source:

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

2009 “David Altmejd: beautiful decay.” Lowdown Magazine 67 (Jul-Sept 2009): 40-45.
Leydier, Richard. “We Might Be Giants: David Altmejd in Grenoble.” Artpress (May 2009): 31-36.
2008 Buck, Louisa. “Biology, nature and evolution turned on their head.” The Art Newspaper 195 (October
2008): 43.
Chu, Ingrid. “David Altmejd.” Time Out New York 661 (May 2008): 69.
Saltz, Jerry. “Statuary Story.” New York Magazine (June 2008): 76-77.
Selby, Todd. “Beauty in the Beast.” Dazed & Confused 2.167 (Nov. 2008): 148-153.
Velasco, David. “ David Altmejd: Andrea Rosen Gallery.” (May 2008).
2007 Amy, Michaël. “Sculpture as Living Organism: A Conversation with David Altmejd.” Sculpture 26.10
(Dec. 2007): 22-29.
Ascari, Alessio. “Unknown Pleasure.” Mousse 11 (Nov. 2007): 62-65.
“Big Picture.” cmagazine94 Summer 2007: 49 (illus.).
Charlesworth, J.J. “David Altmejd. Shapeshifter.” Art Review 12 (June 2007): 76-82.
“David Altmejd.” Bloom 3.1 (Winter 2007): 24-29 (illus.).
Dubé, Peter. “Monstrous Energy.” Espace Sculpture 79 (Spring 2007): 6-12.
Dunmall, Giovanna. “The Bird Man.” Pol Oxygen 24 2007: 115-122.
Goddard, Peter. “David Altmejd's Metamorphosis.” Toronto Star 27 Jan. 2007: H14.
Hong, Catherine. “Beyond Tomorrow.” W (Nov. 2007): 212-214.
Kennedy, Randy. “Venice Biennale: Intimations of Mortality.” 7 June 2007 (30 April
2008) <
Kimmelman, Michael. “The Unruly, Serendipitous Show in Venice.” The New York Times 15 June
2007: E29+.
Milroy, Sarah. “Art with Fur and Big Teeth.” The Globe and Mail 30 Jan. 2007: R1+.
Milroy, Sarah. “Meet the art world’s latest sensation.” Globe Review 18 June 2007: R1.
Regan, Kate. “Crossovers: David Altmejd.” Border Crossings 26.2 (Issue 102, 2007): 94-95.
“The Out 100.” Out 169/170 (Dec. 2007 – Jan. 2008) : 73+.
Vogel, Carol. “In for a Penny, In for the Pounce.” The New York Times 14 June 2007: E1+.
von Gustorf, Oliver Koerner. “Ich weib, was du diesen Sommer getan hast: Reise ins Licht.” Monopol 8
(Aug. 2007): 104-113
von Gustorf, Olvier Koerner and Gesine Borcherdt. “Hinter den Spiegeln.” Monopol 10 (Oct. 2007): 86-
“Work in Progress.” V Magazine 49 (Fall 2007): 162 – 163.
Wullschlager, Jackie. “American Evolution.” Financial Times 9 June 2007: 8.
2006 Alessandrelli, Irina Zucca. “Exquisite corpse.” Flash Art XXXIX.249 (July-Sept. 2006): 51.
Gessell, Paul. “Awoooooo! A werewolf in Venice.” National Post 12 July 2006: AL2.
Gronlund, Melissa. “David Altmejd: Art Star.” i-D Magazine 266 (May 2006): 62.
Larson, Kay. “Beautiful Mutants.” ARTnews Feb. 2006: 106-106.
“Newsmakers: Ones To Watch.” Maclean’s 27 Nov. 2006: 77.
2005 “A Brilliant Idea.” Crystallized 6 Spring/Summer 2006: 15.
Duplat, Par Guy. “Le sculpteur de loups-garous.” La Libre Culture. 30 Mar. 2005: 32.
Herbert, Martin. “The The.” Time Out London 20 July 2005.
Kastner, Jeffrey. “David Altmejd: Andrea Rosen Gallery.” Artforum XLIII.5 Jan. 2005: 180-181.
Keegan, Matt, ed. “David Altmejd and Cynthia Girard.” North Drive Press 2 (June 2005): np.
Lawrence, James. “Contemporary Art: New York.” The Burlington Magazine Jan. 2005: 65.
Mann, Ted. “Acquisitions: David Altmejd.” Guggenheim Magazine Winter 2005: 11.
Miles, Christopher. “David Altmejd.” Frieze 88 (Jan./Feb. 2005): 98.
Neil, Jonathan T.D. “Emerging Artists: David Altmejd. Jonathan T.D Neil on gothic horrors and crystal methods.” Modern Painters Nov. 2005: 64-65.
Spaid, Sue. “David Altmejd.” artUS 7 (Mar.-Apr., 2005): 41.
Schmerler, Sarah. “David Altmejd at Andrea Rosen.” Art in America Mar. 2005: 132-133.
Velasco, David. “Monsters in the Closet: Learning to love David Altmejd’s werewolves.” Art Papers
July/ Aug.: 34-37.
Wiley, Kehinde. “Top Ten.” Artforum April 2005: 82.
2004 Bankowsky, Jack. “This is Today.” Artforum May 2004: 170+.
Beyer, Charles G. “Scream: Anton Kern Gallery.” Flash Art XXXVII.235 (Mar –Apr 2004): 60.
Canning, Sue. “Whitney Biennial.” Sculpture 23.6 (July/Aug. 2004): 78-79.
Dunn, Melissa. “Whitney Biennial 2004: A Good-Looking Corpse.” Flash Art XXXVII.236 (May-June
2004): 63, 80.
Enright, Robert.“Learning from Objects: An interview with David Altmejd.” Border Crossings 23.4
(Issue 92, 2004): 66-75.
Garrett, Craig. “Noctambule.” Flash Art XXXVII.238 (Oct. 2004): 60.
Glueck Grace. “David Altmejd: Andrea Rosen Gallery.” The New York Times 26 Nov. 2004: E41.
Heartney, Eleanor. “The Well Tempered Biennial.” Art In America June/July 2004: 70-77.
Johnson, Ken. “Is Sculpture Too Free for Its Own Good?” The New York Times 7 May 2004: E36.
Johnson, Ken. “Material Eyes.” The New York Times 9 Jan: E44.
Johnson, Ken. “Scream.” The New York Times 13 Feb. 2004: E36.
Kimmelman, Michael. “Touching All Bases At The Bienniel.” The New York Times 12 Mar. 2004: E27.
Kimmelman, Michael. “The Whitney’s Heavy Lifters Look Back.” The New York Times 30 May 2004.
Lee, Chris. “Death Becomes Them.” Black Book 34 (Fall 2004): 190-192.
Lee, Pamela M. “Crystal Lite.” Artforum XLII.9 May 2004: 174-175.
McCormack, Derek. “Hairy Winston.” Elm Street The Look 8.5 (Summer 2004): 30.
Saltz, Jerry. “Modern Gothic.” The Village Voice 4 Feb. 2004: C85.
Saltz, Jerry. “The OK Corral.” The Village Voice 17 Mar. 2004: 80.
Scott, Andrea K. “David Altmejd, Dana Schutz and Kirsten Stoltmann, ‘Material Eyes’.” Time Out New
York 431 (1 Jan. 2004): 52.
Sholis, Brian. “David Altmejd: Hideous Progeny.” Flash Art XXXVII.235 (Mar –Apr 2004): 100-102.
Sillman, Nick. “David Altmejd: Andrea Rosen.” The Brooklyn Rail Nov. 2004. 29 Apr. 2008
Sundell, Margaret. “The today show.” Time Out New York 443 (25 Mar. 2004): 56-57.
“Thinking Inside the Box.” New York 8 Nov. 2004: 78-79.
Tsai, Eugenie. “Reviews: David Altmejd.” Time Out New York 476 (11 Nov. 2004): 65.
2002 “David Altmejd.” The New Yorker 25 Nov. 2002: 17.
Johnson, Ken. “Demonclownmonkey.” The New York Times 19 April 2002.
Saltz, Jerry. “Something Else.” The Village Voice 30 April, 2002.
Smith, Roberta. “Clear Structures for a New Generation.” The New York Times 29 Nov. 2002: E36.
1999 Crevier, Lyne. “Perles du diable.” Ici 13 May 1999.
Mavrikakis, Nicolas. “Perle rare.” Vior 27 May 1999.
SOURCE: Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York –









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