Judy Pfaff

Critics often cite Judy Pfaff (b. 1946, London, England) as the pioneer of installation art. Her extensive and ever-changing work incorporates painting, drawing, printmaking, and sculpture, frequently employed in sprawling installations often described as “painting in space.” Pfaff received her BFA from Washington University and MFA from Yale University. Pratt Institute has also awarded her with an Honorary Doctorate. From the beginning of her career in the 1970s, Pfaff has worked with a wide and unusual range of materials and moves back and forth easily between two- and three-dimensional work. Her dynamic, exuberant, large-scale works incorporate many different media and are often site-specific. Constructed to fit in a specific environment and then deconstructed at the end of an exhibition, her works hold a temporality that heightens the generosity that Pfaff offers to her viewers. Like her installations, Pfaff’s prints have a three-dimensional presence and flowing quality, with layered circles, lines, and organic shapes echoing throughout the images. To unite the overall compositions, Pfaff often completes her prints by adding hand-applied paint, fabric dye, and layers of collaged elements. Among many other awards and accolades, Pfaff received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center (2014), a MacArthur Fellowship (2004), and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1983). Her work has been included in three Whitney Biennial exhibitions, and she represented the United States in the 1988 Sao Paulo Bienal. Her works are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Detroit Institute of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Tate Gallery, among others. Judy Pfaff lives and works in Tivoli, New York.

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