Deborah Kass, American (1952 - )

Deborah Kass (born 1952) is an American artist whose work explores the intersection of pop culture, art history, and the self.

Deborah Kass received her BFA in Painting at Carnegie Mellon University, and studied at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and the Art Students League of New York. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Jewish Museum (New York); Museum of Fine Art, Boston; Cincinnati Museum of Art; New Orleans Museum; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute; Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums; and Weatherspoon Museum, among others, as well as numerous public and private collections.

In 2012 Kass's work was the subject of a mid-career retrospective "Deborah Kass, Before and Happily Ever After" at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. An accompanying catalogue published by Rizzoli, included essays by noted art historians Griselda Pollock, Irving Sandler, Robert Storr, Eric Shiner and writers and filmmaker Brooks Adams, Lisa Leibmann and John Waters.

Kass's work has been shown nationally and internationally including at the Venice Biennale, the Istanbul Biennale, the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, the Museum of Modern Art, The Jewish Museum, New York, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A survey show, "Deborah Kass, The Warhol Project" traveled across the country from 1999-2001. She is a Senior Critic in the Yale University M.F.A. Painting Program.
Kass is represented by Vincent Fremont and the Paul Kasmin Gallery.


1974 BFA (Painting), Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
1972 Whitney Museum Independent Studies Program, New York, NY
1968-70 Art Students League, New York, NY


2007 Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY
2001 Weatherspoon Art Gallery, University of North Carolina at Greensboro,
Greensboro, NC, “Deborah Kass: The Warhol Project “
2000 University Art Museum, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara,
CA, “Deborah Kass: The Warhol Project”
Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, Houston, TX, “Deborah Kass: The Warhol
1999 Newcombe Art Gallery, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, “Deborah Kass: The
Warhol Project (traveling, catalogue)
1998 Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, LA
1996 Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Kansas City, MO, “My Andy:
a retrospective” (catalogue)
1995 Jose Freire Fine Art, New York, NY, “My Andy: a retrospective” Arthur Roger
Gallery, New Orleans, LA
1994 Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston, MA
1993 Jose Freire Fine Art, New York, NY, “Chairman Ma” Arthur Roger Gallery, New
Orleans, LA
1992 fiction/nonfiction, New York, NY, “The Jewish Jackie Series and My Elvis”
Simon Watson, New York, NY, “The Jewish Jackie Series”
1990 Simon Watson Gallery, New York, NY
1988 Scott Hanson Gallery, New York, NY (catalogue)
1986 Baskerville and Watson Gallery, New York, NY
1984 Baskerville and Watson Gallery, New York, NY
1982 Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, IL
1972 Barnhardt Gallery, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

Art History Paintings 1989–1992
In Kass’s first significant body of work, the Art History Paintings, she combined frames lifted from Disney cartoons with slices of painting from Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, and other contemporary sources. Establishing appropriation as her primary mode of working, these early paintings also introduced many of the central concerns of her work to the present. Before and Happily Ever After, for example, coupled Andy Warhol’s painting of an advertisement for a nose job with a movie still of Cinderella fitting her foot into her glass slipper, touching on notions of Americanism and identity in popular culture.

The Warhol Project 1992–2000
In 1992 Kass began The Warhol Project. Beginning in the 1960s, Andy Warhol’s paintings employed methods lifted from mass production to depict iconic American products and celebrities. Using Andy Warhol’s technical and stylistic language to represent figures in many cases no less iconic, Kass nevertheless turned Warhol’s ambivalent relationship to popular culture on its head by choosing subjects that had an explicitly personal and political relationship to her own cultural interests. Kass painted artists and art historians that were her “heroes”, like Cindy Sherman and Elizabeth Murray, Robert Rosenblum and Linda Nochlin, in the vein of Warhol’s celebrities. In The Jewish Jackie Series she painted Barbra Streisand, a celebrity with whom she closely identifies, after Warhol’s paintings of Jackie Onassis and Marilyn Monroe. Her My Elvis series speak to gender and ethic identity by replacing Warhol’s Elvis with Barbra Streisand from Yentl: a 1983 film in which Streisand plays a Jewish woman who dresses and lives as a man in order to receive an education in the Talmudic Law. Kass’s Self Portraits as Warhol nod to the act of drag performed in her all appropriation of Warhol’s work.

Feel Good Paintings for Feel Bad Times 2002–present

In 2002, Kass began a new body of work, feel good paintings for feel bad times, inspired, in part, by her reaction to the Bush administration. In 2007 and in 2010, she presented the work at Paul Kasmin Gallery in two solo shows to great critical acclaim. These works combine stylistic devices from a wide variety of post-war painting, including Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and Ed Ruscha, along with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Laura Nyro, and Sylvester, among others, pulling from popular music, Broadway show tunes, the Great American Songbook, Yiddish, and film. The paintings view American art and culture of the last century through the lens of that time period’s outpouring of creativity that was the result of post-war optimism, a burgeoning middle class, and democratic values. Responding to the uncertain political and ecological climate of the new century in which they have been made, Kass’s work looks back on the 20th century critically and simultaneously with great nostalgia, throwing the present into high relief. Drawing, as always, from the divergent realms of art history, popular culture, political realities, and her own political and philosophical reflection, the artist continues into the present the explorations that have characterized her paintings since the 1980s in these new hybrid textual and visual works.


2006 “The Eighth Square”, The Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany, curated by
Kasper Konig and Frank Wagner
2005 “American Art: 1960-Present, Selections From the Permanent Collection”,
Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC
“Appropriate Appropriation”, Gray Kapernekas Gallery, New York, NY
“Artists Pick”, Larissa Goldston Gallery, New York, NY
“Co-Conspirators: Artists and Collectors, The James Cottrell and Joe Lovett
Collection”, Chelsea Museum, New York, NY and Samuel Dorksy Museum, New
Paltz, NY, curated by Sue Scott
“Likeness: Artists’ Portraits of Artists by Other Artists”, Institute of Contemporary
Art, Boston, Boston, MA, curated by Mathew Higgs
“Trade”, White Columns, NY, NY, curated by Matthew Higgs
“Upstarts and Matriarchs: Jewish Women Artists and the Transformation of
American Art”, Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, Denver, CO
“Very Early Pictures”, Arcadia University Art Gallery, Glenside, PA traveling to
Luckman Gallery, California State University, Los Angeles, CA
2004 “Open House: Working in Brooklyn”, Brooklyn Museum of Art. Brooklyn, NY,
curated by Charlotta Kotik and Tumelo Mosaka
“Likeness: Artists’ Portraits of Artists by Other Artisits”, California College of Arts
and Crafts, San Francisco, curated by Mathew Higgs, traveling
“Disturbing the Peace”, Danese Gallery, New York, NY
“Muse”, Leslie Tonkonow Gallery, New York, NY
“Co-Conspirators: Artists and Collectors, The James Cottrell and Joe Lovett
Collection”, Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL, curated by Sue Scott
2003 “Influence, Anxiety and Gratitude”, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA.
curated by Bill Arning
“Crimes and Misdemeanors: Politics in U.S. Art of the 1980’s” Cincinnati
Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, OH, curated by Thom Collins
“The Recurrent Haunting Ghost, Reflections of Marcel Duchamp in Modern and
Contemporay Art”, Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, New York, NY
2002 “Queer Visualities”, Stony Brook University Art Gallery, Stony Brook, NY, curated
by Carl Pope
2001 “A Family Album: Brooklyn Collectsù, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
“Voice, Image, Gesture: Selections from The Jewish Museum’s Collection. 1945-
2000”, The Jewish Museum, New York, NY
“Contemporary Art and Celebrity Culture”, Betty Rymer Gallery, School of the Art
Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
“Recasting the Past: Beneath the Hollywood Tinsel”, Main Art Gallery, Cal State
University, Fullerton, CA
2000 “Revealing and Concealing: Portraits and Cultural Identity”, Skirball Museum, Los
Angeles, CA, (cat.)
“Deja vu: Reworking the Past”, Katonah Museum, Katonah, NY, curated by
Barbara Bloemink
1999 “Fifteen”, curated by Walter Robinson for New York Foundation for the Arts,
Deutsche Bank, NY, NY
“The Perpetual Well: Contemporary Art from the Collection of the Jewish
Museum”, The Jewish Museum, New York, NY (traveling to Harn Museum Of Art,
University of Florida Gainesville, FL, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery and Sculpture
Garden, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, Parrish Museum, South Hampton,
NY, and Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV), (cat.)
“Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey”, The Jewish Museum, New York,
“A.R.T. Press Portfolio,” David Adamson Gallery, Washington, D.C.
1998 “In Your Face”, The Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA
“Conversation: Patricia Cronin and Deborah Kass”, Art Transfer Resouce, New
York, NY
“5729-5756: Contemporary Artists Welcome the New Year—The Jewish
Museum List Graphic Commisssion”, The Jewish Museum, New York, NY
“Art on Paper” The Weatherspoon Gallery of Art, Greenboro, NC
1997 “The Prophecy of Pop”, New Orleans Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans,
LA, curated by John Goode
“Identity Crisis: Self Portraiture at the End of the Century”, Milwaukee Art
Museum, Milwaukee, WI, curated by Dean Sobel, traveling to Aspen Museum,
Aspen, CO (cat.)
1996 “Too Jewish?: Challenging Traditional Identities”, The Jewish Museum, New
York, NY, curated by Norman Kleeblatt (traveling to The Jewish Museum,
Philadelphia, PA; The Contemporary, Baltimore, MD; The Jewish Museum, San
Francisco, CA; UCLA at the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural
Center, Los Angeles, CA - catalogue)
“NowHere: Incandescent”, curated by Laura Cottingham, Louisiana Museum of
Art, Humlebaek, DENMARK (cat.)
“Real Fake”, Neuberger Museum of Art, SUNY Purchase, Purchase, NY
“Gender, Fucked”, Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA
1995 “In a Different Light”, University Art Gallery, University of California at Berkeley,
Berkley CA, curated by Nayland Blake and Lawrence Rinder (cat.)
“Face Forward: Self-Portraiture in Contemporary Art”, John Michael Kohler Arts
Center, Sheboygan, WI, curated by Maureen Sherlock
“Pervert”, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, CA, curated by Catherine Lor
“Imperfect”, Herter Art Gallery, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst,
MA, curated by Jerry Kearns (traveling to Tyler School of Art, Temple
University,Philadelphia, PA - cat.)
“Semblances”, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
1994 “2 X IMMORTAL: Elvis + Marilyn”, McDaris Exhibition Group, Memphis, TN,
curated by Wendy McDaris (traveling to Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston,
MA; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte,
NC; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; The Philbrook Museum f Art,
Tulsa, OK; Columbus Museum of Art, OH;Tennessee St. Museum, Nashville, TN;
San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA; Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu,
HA - cat.)
“Democratic Vistas: 50 Years of American Art from Regional Collections”, State
University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY (cat.)
“Stonewall 25: Imaginings of the Gay Past, Celebrating the Gay Present”, White
Columns, New York, NY, curated by Bill Arning
“Pride in Our Diveristy”, Colonial House Hotel, New York, NY, curated by Ronny
“Absence, Activism & The Body Politic”, Fischbach Gallery, New York, NY,
curated by Joseph R. Wolin
“Exhibition and Sale for ICI’s 20th Anniversary”, Sonnabend Gallery, New York,
NY, curated by Dan Cameron
“Working Around Warhol”, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA, curated
by Murray Horne
“Bad Girls West”, Wight Art Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles, CA,
curated by Marcia Tanner and Marcia Tucker (cat.)
1993 “Ciphers of Identity”, University of Maryland, Baltimore / Baltimore County Fine
Arts Gallery, Cantonville, MD, curated by Maurice Berger (traveled: Ronald
Feldman Gallery, New York, NY; Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA;
Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta, GA, University of Califomia at Irvine, Irvine, CA;
Kemper Museum of Art and Design, Kansas City, MO - cat.)
“Regarding Masculinity”, Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, LA
“Collecting for the 21st Century: Recent Acquisitions and Promised Gifts”, Jewish
Museum, New York, NY
“I Love You More Than My Own Death, A Melodrama In Parts By Pedro
Almodovar”, Zitelle Guidecca, The Venice Biennial - Slittamenti, Venice, ITALY,
curated by Christian Leigh
“Cutting Bait”, Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, IL
“I Am The Enunciator”, Thread Waxing Space, New York, NY, curated by
Christian Leigh
1992 “The New American Flag”, Max Protech Gallery, New York, NY
“Shapeshifters”, Amy Lipton Gallery, New York, NY
“Fear of Painting”, Arthur Roger Gallery, New York, NY, curated by Dan
“In Your Face: Politics of the Body and Personal Knowledge”, A.C. Project Room,
New York, NY
“Painting Culture”, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
“Selections”, Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, LA
1991 “Painting Culture”, fiction/nonfiction”, NY
“Rope”, Galeria Fernando Alcolea, Barcelona, SPAIN, curated by Christian Leigh
“Out Art”, Saint Lawrence University, Saint Lawrence, NY, curated by Nan
“Someone or Somebody”, Myers / Bloom Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
“Something Pithier and More Psychological”, Simon Watson Gallery, NY, NY
“Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?”, Hyde
Museum, Glenns Falls, NY, curated by Dan Cameron (cat.)
1990 “The Last Laugh: Irony, Humor, Self-Mockery and Derision”, Massimo Audiello
Gallery, New York, NY, curated by Collins and Milazzo
“Fragments, Parts and Wholes: The Body in Culture”, White Columns, New York,
NY, curated by Saul Ostrow
1989 “Young New York”, Bellarte, Helsinki, FINLAND (traveled: Turku, FINLAND)
“The Mirror in Which Two Are Seen as One”, Jersey City Museum, Jersey City,
NJ, curated by Andrea Belag
“Painting Between the Paradigms-Part One: Between Awareness and Desire”,
Galerie Rahmel, Cologne, GERMANY, curated by Saul Ostrow
“Erotophobia: A Forum on Contemporary Sexuality”, Simon Watson Gallery, New
York, NY
1988 “Meaningful Geometry”, Postmasters Gallery, New York, NY
“Five Corners of Abstraction”, Jacob Javits Center, New York, NY, curated by Bill
“Combination Prints”, New Jersey Center for the Visual Arts, Summit, NJ
“Gallery Selections”, Scott Hanson Gallery, New York, NY
1987 “Dreams of the Alchemist”, Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, OH
“Romantic Science”, One Penn Plaza, New York, NY, curated by Stephen
“Suzanne Joelson, Claudia Hart, Deborah Kass, Pat Steir”, Four Walls, Hoboken,
“Major Acquisitions, Small Appliances”, Solo Gallery, New York, NY, curated by
D. Cameron
1986 “A Radical Plurality”, Ben Shahn Galleries, William Patterson College, Wayne, NJ
“Two-Person Exhibition”, Turnbull Lutjeans Kogan Gallery, Costa Mesa, CA
1985 “Six Painters”, Zilka Gallery, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, curated by
Jean Feinberg
1984 “The New Expressive Landscape”, Sordoni Gallery, Wilkes College, Wilkes-
Barre, PA
“Fantastic Landscape”, Exit Art, New York, NY
“Two-Person Exhibition”, Turnbull Lutjeans Kogan Gallery, Costa Mesa, CA
1982 “Two-Person Exhibition”, Baskerville and Watson Gallery, New York, NY
“Red”, Stefanotti Gallery, New York, NY
“Landscape / Cityscape”, Josef Gallery, New York, NY, curated by Carole Ann
“Nature As Image and Metaphor”, Greene Space, New York, NY (under the
auspices of the Women’s Caucus for Art)
“Critical Perspectives”, P.S.1 Museum, Long Island City, NY, curated by Ronny
1981 “Black Paint / Dark Thoughts”, Pratt Manhattan Center, New York, NY, curated
by Ellen Schwartz
“Drawings at the Mudd Club”, The Mudd Club, New York, NY, curated by Kenny
Scharf and Keith Harring
“Drawing Show”, Stefanotti Gallery, New York, NY
1980 “First Person singular: Recent Self Portraiture”, Pratt Manhattan Center, New
York, NY Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, curated by Ellen Schwartz and Paul
1979 “Artists by Artists”, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY


1996 Art Matters Inc. Grant
1992 Art Matters Inc. Grant
1991 New York State Foundation for the Arts, Fellowship in Painting
1987 National Endowment for the Arts, Painting


Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Chemical Bank, New York, NY
Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH
First Bank of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN
Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN
Glickenhaus Company, New York, NY
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
The Jewish Museum, New York, NY
La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA
McCrory Corporation, New York, NY
Mobil Oil Corporation, New York, NY
Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
New Museum, New York, NY
New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
The Norton Family Foundation, Santa Monica, CA
Pacific Bell, Los Angeles, CA
The Progressive Corporation, Cleveland, OH
Prudential Bache, New York, NY
The Prudential Life Insurance Company of America, NJ
Salomen Brothers, New York, NY
The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick, NJ
The Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of NC at Greensboro, Greenboro, NC
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

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