Sarah McKenzie

My paintings capture architecture and the built environment in a state of flux. Past series have depicted suburban sprawl, construction sites, and abandoned, decaying homes and factories. My current body of work explores the architecture of exhibition space: art fair tents, minimalist gallery interiors, and video-screening rooms. These are spaces designed to accommodate the temporary, accepting change and transition as a constant state. These white-walled rooms are at once austere and lavish; makeshift and highly controlled; impersonal and sacred. I am interested in the notion of spectacle and the role that architecture plays in orienting the viewer's experience of a work of art. My paintings also bring up issues of access and audience. As with all my past work, human occupants are notably absent from the gallery spaces I depict; this forces the viewer to consider his or her own position relative to the image.

With an emphasis on geometry, pattern, and surface, my paintings hover in a zone between stark realism and abstraction. Playing with the materiality of paint, I apply both oils and acrylics to a single canvas and juxtapose various painting “styles,” deliberately undermining the illusion of depth and the unity of the completed image. My work often appears photo-realistic when seen in reproduction, but–seen in person–the painted surface asserts itself forcefully, and the viewer is able to determine the process by which the image was made. This is important to me. I care deeply about making paintings–physical objects with which the viewer will have a direct, visceral relationship and response.

Sarah McKenzie's work has been exhibited at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Yale School of Architecture, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the Aspen Art Museum and at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art. McKenzie recently completed a residency at Ucross Foundation (Clearmont, WY) and she received a Colombel-Soros Printmaking Edition Award and Residency at Zygote Press in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2012 McKenzie received a Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant. Her paintings have been featured in Art in America, The New York Times, The Denver Post, The Huffington Post, Dwell magazine, and New American Paintings. McKenzie received her MFA in 1998 from the University of Michigan, and her BA in Film Studies from Yale. McKenzie lives and works in Boulder, Colorado.

  • Sarah McKenzie Suspension (Yale University Art Gallery with Sol Lewitt and Joel Shapiro, 2018) Sarah McKenzie
    Suspension (Yale University Art…
  • Sarah McKenzie Spectacle (Indianapolis Art Museum with William Lamson, 2016) Sarah McKenzie
    Spectacle (Indianapolis Art Museum…
  • Sarah McKenzie Frieze Sarah McKenzie
    Frieze
  • Sarah McKenzie Landscape 4, Upper East Side (Met Breuer) Sarah McKenzie
    Landscape 4, Upper East…
  • Sarah McKenzie Projection (James Cohan with Bill Viola, 2018) Sarah McKenzie
    Projection (James Cohan with…
  • Sarah McKenzie Entry (Mitchell-Innes & Nash) Sarah McKenzie
    Entry (Mitchell-Innes & Nash)
  • Sarah McKenzie Vitrine (White Cube, Mason’s Yard with Haim Steinbach, 2013) Sarah McKenzie
    Vitrine (White Cube, Mason’s…
  • Sarah McKenzie Vacancy (lithograph) Sarah McKenzie
    Vacancy (lithograph)
  • Sarah McKenzie Study (L.E.S.) Sarah McKenzie
    Study (L.E.S.)
  • Sarah McKenzie Barrier (Frieze Masters, 2013) Sarah McKenzie
    Barrier (Frieze Masters, 2013)
  • Sarah McKenzie Exhibition Catalogue: White Walls Sarah McKenzie
    Exhibition Catalogue: White Walls
  • Sarah McKenzie Exhibition Catalogue: Transitional Sarah McKenzie
    Exhibition Catalogue: Transitional