Sam Anderson

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What is My Work about?

My practice is predominately sculpture. Figurative sculpture often reactualizes characters from literature and myths. I am particularly interested in fables, as they are quick and cruel, and come with a deliberate lesson attached. Animals and objects replace human needs and desires, on top of which centuries of interpretive translations and various editions have obfuscated the morals. Not the lesson itself, but the way in which the lesson is designed to teach or espouse is crucial to my work. Supposedly there’s a transcendent poetry to sculpture, which contradicts the practicality, limitations, and restrictions of materials that ultimately cannot successfully be transcended. In the process of making, I catch myself trying to rise above physical constraints, and reprimanding myself for believing in that possibility. I like to use sculpture in the way a musician constructs a song to be familiar, without needing explanation. There is no truth beyond entertainment, but the anxiety and panic involved in finding this supposed truth are real. For me sculpture includes both panic and enjoyment.


Artist Statement

I make sculptures whose narratives are always personal and specific, funny or sad, out of everyday objects and limited art materials. When grouped in a large installation, the works function like a map of overlapping monologues, an emotional lattice of moods and tones, or a musical composition. I look at the work of Morton Feldman, Joan La Barbara, Anthony Braxton, and Robert Ashley for example, for their use of language and rhythm. Though narratives are insular and autonomous to each sculpture, like a person sitting on a park bench, or one of several standing in line at a bank, the overall tonality of the bank or the park is what is most compelling to me. I make figurative sculptures performing various activities. They function like character actors, or ‘extras’ isolated from a larger unknown narrative. I like character actors more than leading ladies or men, because like personalities in fables, they have a more nuanced relationship to language in forms of advice, wisdom, or comic relief. Instead of following a plot, these minor characters lurk around a landscape, waiting for protagonists to pass by and interact with them. With little context, they quickly appeal to an audience to be loved, hated, feared, etc. Colloquial/filmic language reveals unexpected nuances of the person speaking it. I am interested in how small behavioral signposts for emotions evolve, how strongly people trust in them, and to what extent people subconsciously absorb and recycle them. I include popular 20th century display methods in my work that use light and sound projection over figurative sculpture. Archives from world’s fairs, trade shows, and educational museum displays, like the many mise en scènes located throughout the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, are specifically appealing to me. In these educational contexts scale is irrelevant, and suspension of disbelief is expected. Sculptures cannot move but can be activated and cinematically altered by light and sound.

My work includes multiple representations of animals and anthropomorphized objects. The way we project speech on animals is a common method of applying social conventions and lessons. I sometimes use animal skeletons or reproductions, suggesting how maybe an organism can perform a version of itself. A frog skeleton positioned on a rock as if climbing is pointing to the narrative of a living frog doing something frog-like, yet the narrative of the skeleton is changed as it is humanized by my placement. By making visual models or topographies from these ideas, and because of my own limitations, I look to understand the implications of the difference between truth and truism, perception and desire. My installations are physically organized in grid-like patterns reminiscent of city planning, public smoking areas, playgrounds, gardens, or cafes. I like to consider the subtext of a dinner seating chart, for example; the process and ego involved in placing one individual beside another at a table. Because I use various objects that don’t match, a constant scale shifting is suggested. More than a manipulation of size relationships, my work is concerned with framing and formatting viewpoints; an always cinematic positioning of the mind that switches out multiple genres of comprehension.




Born Los Angeles, Califorina, 1982

Lives and works in New York


2010     MFA Yale University, New Haven, CT

2008     BFA School of Visual Arts, NY



(upcoming), Rowhouse Project, Baltimore, Maryland


(upcoming), Tanya Leighton, Berlin, Germany

Greater New York, Ps1, Long Island City, New York

Everybody Knows, Martos Gallery, New York

Talley’s Folly, mother’s tankstation, Dublin

All back in the skull together, Maccarone, New York

Looking Back: White Columns Annual, White Columns, New York


The Mound Builders, Off Vendome, Düsseldorf, Germany

In Free Circulation, mother’s tankstation, Dublin

Warm side of Zero, Overduin & Co, LA

Die Geister, die ich rief werd’ ich nun nicht los, Cookie Butcher, Antwerp, Belgium

International Woman’s Day, Night Gallery, LA

That Singing Voice, Marta Cervera Gallery, Madrid, Spain

Morning and Evening Asylum, Tanya Leighton/Off Vendome, Berlin/Dusseldorf, Germany

Objects of Thin Air, Foxy Production, NY


Now Showing: Sam Anderson, Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY

Flowers and Money, Chapter NY, New York, NY

Under the BQE, M/L Artspace, Brooklyn, NY

Shuffle Puck Café, Bed-Stuy Love Affair, Brooklyn, NY

Black Cake, Team Gallery, New York, NY


How’s Your Wall? Artist Curated Projects, Los Angeles, CA

Group Show, West Street Gallery, New York, NY

Dream Chasers Never Sleep, Night Gallery, Los Angeles, NY

Halo Africa, Gallery D.O.R., Brussels, Belgium

You Told Me The Other Night, West Street Gallery, New York, NY

First Among Equals, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA

Video Screening Part 2, West Street Gallery, New York, NY


Chat D’Oeuvres Part 2, Anthology Film Archives, New York, NY

Touchy Feely, Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA

At the Sign of the Pulsating Heart, West Street Gallery at NADA Hudson, Hudson, NY

Employment, Primetime, Brooklyn, NY

Heads with Tails, Harris Liebermann, New York, NY

The Golden Ass, Annie Wharton, Los Angeles, CA

Screening with Michel Auder/Sam Anderson & Michael Stickrod, Soloway, Brooklyn, NY

Proposal For A Floor, 1500 Broodway, New York, NY



Untitles, Newman Popiashvili, Gallery New York NY

New Insight, Art Chicago, Chicago IL

Salt Mine, Primetime, Brooklyn NY

MFA Thesis, Green Hall Gallery, New Haven CT



Chat D’Oeuvres Part 1, Anthology Film Archives, New York NY

Performance Night, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven CT



MFA First Year Show, Green Hall Gallery, New Haven CT

Poetry Club, curated by Fia Backström, White Columns, New York NY





Keegan, Matt, ‘Sam Anderson + Daniel Boszhokov’ and ‘Sam Anderson + Uri Aran’, ==#2, Capricous Publishing

Smith, Roberta, ’15 Group Shows Not To Miss’, The New York Times (Jan)


Boolen, Christopher, ‘Interview with Andrew Russeth’,


Russeth, Andrew, ‘The Year in, and Beyond, the Galleries’, Gallerist NY (Dec)

Russeth, Andrew, ‘Sam Anderson: Flowers and Money’, Gallerist NY (Dec)

Blagojevic, Bosko, ‘Sam Anderson: Flowers and Money’, Critic’s Picks, Artforum (Nov)

Saltz, Jerry, ‘To Do’, New York Magazine (Nov)

Russeth, Andrew, ‘Sam Anderson, Shuffle Puck Cafe at Bed-Stuy Love Affair’, 16 Miles of String (Jul)


Winant, Carmen, ‘First Among Equals’, Critic’s Picks, Artforum (May)


Tuck, Geoff, ‘Touchy Feely at Human Resources’, Notes on Looking (Sep)

‘Heads With Tails’, The New Yorker (Sep)

‘West Street Gallery Closes Out the Summer at Harris Lieberman in Chelsea’, NY Observer (Aug)

Hudnutt, Jesse, ‘Proposal for a Floor: An Art Show and Unlikely Reason to Visit Times Square’, Opening Ceremony (Mar)

Osburn, Chris, ‘Zabludowicz Collection: Six Weeks in New York’, Whitehot Magazine