1944 · United States
Allan McCollum is a contemporary American artist, who works in the areas of sculpture, photography and drawing. His work follows specific structures and applies the strategies of typologies and mass production to objects that are handmade. He presents small objects in large numbers to create large-scale installation works which draw on ideas of mass production and the act of creation.
McCollum was born in 1944 in Los Angeles, California to an artistic family. After dabbling in a culinary career he began to train himself as an artist in 1967, and was influenced by the writings of the Fluxus and structuralist movements. He learned quickly, and soon rented studio spaces in the Venice Beach area, and exhibited his work regularly at the Nicholas Wilder Gallery and the Claire Copley Gallery in the early 1970s. In 1975 he moved to New York where he currently lives and works.
McCollum’s work deals greatly with ideas surrounding typography, and classifying objects on mass into set systems. Throughout his career which has spanned over 50 years, McCollum has explored the ideas surrounding how objects achieve meaning in both personal and public contexts, and the differences between connotations given to handmade and mass produced objects. For example, in his 2006 piece ‘Shapes Project’ he designed a system which produced and tracked unique graphic emblems for each person on earth. As an extension of this piece, McCollum created the project ‘Shapes of Maine’ from 2005-2008, which consisted of over 2220 unique handcrafted items, each of which represented a craftsperson working in the state.
Throughout his prolific career, McCollum has had over 130 solo exhibitions, including retrospectives at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Lille, France (1998), the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany (1995–96), the Serpentine Gallery in London (1990) and Portikus in Frankfurt, Germany (1988). He has produced numerous public art projects in the United States and Europe, and his works are held in more than 90 art museum collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.