The Artsy Vanguard 2020: Naudline Pierre

Sarah Dotson
Sep 11, 2020 8:00PM

Naudline Pierre

B. 1989, Leominster, Massachusetts. Lives and works in New York.


You don’t need to search for long to find references to Renaissance art in Naudline Pierre’s ecstatic paintings. Take, for example, her jewel-toned triptychs, pietà-like compositions, and figures with luminous halos. Yet in addition to drawing from centuries of religious artwork, Pierre mines her experiences as the daughter of a Haitian minister. The resulting works are distinctly contemporary explorations of spirituality and existence. Currently an artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Pierre is creating a body of work that will soon be shown at MoMA PS1.

In her eight-foot-tall painting Lead Me Gently Home (2019), figures with angel wings or halos of fire suggest the age-old battle between heaven and hell, yet the path to redemption is unclear. The central figure appears surrounded by a world of darkness, but gentle hands and wings support her, guiding her upwards towards an angel’s embrace. Pierre often portrays an alter-ego in her paintings, replacing the white figures that populate canonical art history with a Black woman.

Earlier this year, Legacy Russell, associate curator of exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, named Pierre as an artist to watch, telling Artsy: “To have a Black woman holding the brush and quite literally painting Black people into a canon that has long placed them in the background, white-washed them, or excluded them altogether rattles at the foundation of beauty as a supremacist construct.”

Since her first solo show in 2017, with Thierry Goldberg Gallery in New York, Pierre has joined the roster of Shulamit Nazarian in Los Angeles, where she had a much-lauded solo show in 2019. She’s also been included in group shows at galleries including Perrotin, Roberts Projects, and Stephen Friedman Gallery, and was a part of the 2019 exhibition “Prisoner of Love: Life and Death” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Her works are found in esteemed museum collections, including the Pérez Art Museum Miami, the CC Foundation in Shanghai, and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. In 2021, Pierre will be included in the fifth edition of the Prospect New Orleans triennial, curated by Naima J. Keith and Diana Nawi.

The Artsy Vanguard 2020

The Artsy Vanguard 2020 is our annual list of the most promising artists shaping the future of contemporary art. This year, artists are organized into two categories: Newly Emerging, which presents artists who’ve gained momentum in the past year, showing at leading institutions and galleries; and Getting Their Due, which identifies artists who have persevered for decades, yet only recently received the spotlight they deserve. Now in its third edition, the feature was developed by the Artsy staff, in collaboration with our network of international curators and art professionals. Explore more of The Artsy Vanguard 2020.

Sarah Dotson

Header and thumbnail image, from left to right: Naudline Pierre, “In The Hole,” 2017. Courtesy of the artist and New Image Art; Naudline Pierre, “Blessed Are The Blessed,” 2018. Courtesy of the artist and New Image Art; Portrait of Naudline Pierre by Nathan Bajar. Courtesy of the artist and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles; Naudline Pierre, “Rest Here, Rest Now,” 2018. Naudline Pierre, “Lest You Fall,” 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Shulamit Nazarian.

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019