Catherine Wagner photographs elements of contemporary society and transforms them into conceptual images that investigate culture. For over thirty years she has been a keen observer of the built environment, examining institutions of learning and knowledge, such as art museums and science labs, as well as the ways we construct our cultural identity. Wagner’s process involves the investigation of what art critic David Bonetti calls "the systems people create, our love of order, our ambition to shape the world, the value we place on knowledge, and the tokens we display to express ourselves." Wagner was named one of Time Magazine’s Fine Arts Innovators of the Year. Her work is represented in major collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; SFMOMA; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany.
–Courtesy of Headlands Center for the Arts
Framing courtesy of Sterling Art Services
Image rights: Courtesy of the artist, Anglim Gilbert Gallery, and Gallery Luisotti
About Catherine Wagner
Catherine Wagner’s photographs investigate the relationship between various systems of knowledge and the institutional environments that house them. She has explored the art museum, the laboratory, retail spaces, the home, and the amusement park—each as spaces with a series of instruments and encoded practices that structure identity. Wagner revels in visually mapping typologies onto one another and arranging inanimate objects to suggest the human form. “Throughout my practice I've been interested in ways of seeing, feeling, and learning about larger issues that are made possible through more abstract or oblique methods,” she says. “The images in this series are at once very literal, but open up a conversation well beyond their specificity.” Wagner has also created public site-specific installations out of her photographs, projecting her interrogation of structure onto a larger scale.
American , b. 1953, based in California