Charles Gaines

“I do believe that there is such a thing as intuition and there is such a thing as imagination. I just think these are concepts, that they’re culturally realized. What we come to understand is, knowledge and meaning are not pure products of our genius but are built into the structure where we reside.” —Charles Gaines, “Systems & Structures,” Art21 Extended Play, December 14, 2022

Charles Gaines is a pivotal artist in the field of conceptual art who has bridged early conceptual artists with subsequent generations and continues to push the limits of conceptualism. For this compelling Tuesday Evenings presentation, Gaines concentrates on three stirring aspects of his epic undertaking, The American Manifest—a public work that unfolds in three parts over two years and spans three locations. Sharing the concepts and processes exercised in realizing such a project, Gaines focuses on Moving Chains (2022), Manifestos 4 (2021), as well as new elements and an edit from the performance in Times Square. In his remarks for the Times Square event, Gaines explained, “When I started the project, the Black Lives Movement and Ferguson, started hitting the news and I wanted to explore the core or the problem that makes these things persevere.” For an October 7, 2022 article in The New York Times, Gaines observed that “Art can legitimately inform culture as much as any other discipline, rather than being this sort of pleasure, or way of escaping society,” noting, “I’m really invested in the idea of the power of art in relation to the public.”

Charles Gaines (b. 1944, Charleston, South Carolina) engages formulas and systems that interrogate relationships between the objective and the subjective realms. He lives and works in Los Angeles where he recently retired from the faculty of CalArts School of Art after over 30 years, having established a fellowship to provide critical scholarship support for Black students in the MFA Art program. Gaines has been the subject of numerous exhibitions in the United States and around the world, most notably at Dia Beacon, New York; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; his work was also presented at the 1975 Whitney Biennial and the Venice Biennale in 2007and 2015. Gaines’s work is included in prominent public collections such as the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tate, England; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Tuesday Evenings