Skip to Main Content

Alan Shields

American, 1944–2005

209 followers
Follow

Alan Shields

American, 1944–2005

209
Followers
Biography

A prominent and idiosyncratic figure in the New York art world of the 1970s, Alan Shields made vibrant collages from scraps of cloth, un-stretched canvas, rope, beads, wood, and pipe cleaners, staining the stitched and woven surfaces of his three-dimensional paintings with dye. Shields grew up on a farm in Kansas, where he learned to sew from his mother and sisters, later employing the skill in his machine-stitched, textile-like works. Speaking of his wide range of materials, he once said, “It’s just like farming. It’s good to rotate crops. It’s good to change media.” His compositions sometimes feature psychedelic coloring and recurring characters, such as Worm, an alter ego for Shields represented by a strip of fabric waving across the canvas; or imagery that evokes non-Western cultures, such as mandalas and constellations. He also produced prints and experimented with jewelry, animation, sculpture, and—influenced by Buckminster Fuller—built spherical or tepee-like structures. He is considered a forerunner to contemporary artists such as Jessica Stockholder, Jim Drain, and John Bock.

Related Categories
Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Established
Established representation
Represented by industry leading galleries.
User
Solo show at a major institution
Aspen Art Museum
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 4 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Tate, and 2 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 2 more
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Venice Biennale National Pavilion, and 2 more
Biography

A prominent and idiosyncratic figure in the New York art world of the 1970s, Alan Shields made vibrant collages from scraps of cloth, un-stretched canvas, rope, beads, wood, and pipe cleaners, staining the stitched and woven surfaces of his three-dimensional paintings with dye. Shields grew up on a farm in Kansas, where he learned to sew from his mother and sisters, later employing the skill in his machine-stitched, textile-like works. Speaking of his wide range of materials, he once said, “It’s just like farming. It’s good to rotate crops. It’s good to change media.” His compositions sometimes feature psychedelic coloring and recurring characters, such as Worm, an alter ego for Shields represented by a strip of fabric waving across the canvas; or imagery that evokes non-Western cultures, such as mandalas and constellations. He also produced prints and experimented with jewelry, animation, sculpture, and—influenced by Buckminster Fuller—built spherical or tepee-like structures. He is considered a forerunner to contemporary artists such as Jessica Stockholder, Jim Drain, and John Bock.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Established
Established representation
Represented by industry leading galleries.
User
Solo show at a major institution
Aspen Art Museum
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 4 more
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Tate, and 2 more
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 2 more
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Venice Biennale National Pavilion, and 2 more
Shows Featuring Alan Shields
Articles Featuring Alan Shields
The Pattern and Decoration Movement Challenged the Machismo of Modernism
Jan 31st, 2020
The Pattern and Decoration Movement Challenged the Machismo of Modernism
Why the Art World Is Embracing Craft
Jan 13th, 2020
Why the Art World Is Embracing Craft
Navigate right