Michael Portnoy

American, born 1971

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Michael Portnoy

American, born 1971

Multimedia and performance artist Michael Portnoy infuses his art with comedy and linguistic absurdity, often drawing laughs with his artwork-jokes. This is central to Portnoy’s work, which investigates social exchange and the rules of communication and play. His projects imbue regular social conventions with esoteric communications, symbols, and gesture. For instance, with Gnosis 27 (2012), a game show he devised and staged within a giant mound of mud at dOCUMENTA (13), he attempts to reduce all knowledge into an “alphabet of human thought” from which to develop a language. Meanwhile, Portnoy’s performative “High Action Drama Paintings” are “about choreographing the obstacles that the paint encounters on its way to its pre-destined surface,” he explains, adding, “I also sing the course of the circuitous route of the paint towards the painting.”

Selected career achievements
group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and 3 more
publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
Artforum, and 2 more
fair
Included in a major biennial
documenta, and 4 more
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$50 - $50,000+
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