Walead Beshty

Untitled, 2009

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Walead Beshty, Untitled, 2009

Walead Beshty

(British, b. 1976)

Untitled, 2009
signed with the artist’s initials and numbered WBC02009SSP on the reverse
cyanotype on paper
20 by 15.5 cm.
Unique cyanotype from a series of 100.

Side Street Projects, Pasadena Private Collection, United States

AUD $ 2,500

Payment over 10 months with Art Money available

Key Points

  • Walead Beshty’s photographic practice is amongst the most original engagements with the medium
  • His interest in photography without a camera positions historical techniques such as the cyanotype in a contemporary context
  • His work has been collected by prestigious institutions around the world and exhibited at the Venice Biennale and Whitney Biennale, amongst others

In Context

Born in the United Kingdom and based in Los Angeles, Walead Beshty’s work has received critical acclaim across the world and has been included in prestigious exhibitions such as the Biennale of Venice and the Whitney Biennale in New York. His work is collected by the world’s most important museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate Modern in London and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.

“I’m not interested in a grand definition of a particular medium— some sort of ontological construction – but in the particular expression of a set of relations within specific contexts. I think I’m most interested in the translation of abstract ideas – from abstraction in general to the materially specific.”

– Walead Beshty

Although working across a variety of mediums, Walead Beshty is best known for his work in sculpture and photography. In his most acclaimed series, he has introduced the physical movement of the artwork as it travels around the world as an intrinsic part of the work, best illustrated in his body of Fedex boxes. These geometric boxes made of copper and glass over time accumulate handling marks, with cracks in the glass and fingerprints on the copper, and both covered with Fedex stickers that document their journey.

“Beshty has frequently experimented with photography’s deadpan recording ability, using the mechanics of its preservation of information about objects and places in specific moments of time”

– Jeffrey Kastner

The artist’s approach to photography is equally experimental, as in his series of Travel Pictures and Transparencies, in which photographic paper is exposed to the x-ray machines at airports, resulting in colourful abstract compositions. His cyanotypes, such as Untitled, are based on one of the oldest photographic techniques, using a chemical emulsion exposed to the famous Los Angeles sunlight that creates a bright blue imprint.

Walead Beshty in his studio

This technique of photography without a camera represents the most literal interpretation of the word, which translates from Greek as ‘writing with light’. The appearance of Untitled is dictated by the folds created by crumpling photo-sensitive paper, which is then exposed to sunlight. The resulting photogram becomes simultaneously the object, as well as a representation of that object: the folds are represented photographically, but also actually there. This complicates the traditional understanding of photography as a passive medium that merely represents an external reality, and highlights the creative potential inherent in the photographic medium itself.

Works in Institutions

Walead Beshty, Three Colour Curl, 2008, c-print, 250 by 127 cm.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Walead Beshty, Three Sided Picture, c-print, 75 by 65 cm.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Walead Beshty, Three Colour Curl, 2008, c-print, 248 by 130 cm.
Museum of Modern Art, New York

The market

Walead Beshty, Untitled, 2009, cyanotype on paper, 19.8 by 14.7 cm.
Sold for GBP 2,750 (AUD 5,000)
Christie’s London, September 2011

Walead Beshty, Amphetamine Salts 10 mg, 2015, chromogenic print, 50.5 by 40.3 cm. ed. 15.
Gallery price: USD 3,000 (AUD 4,000)
Walead Beshty, Three-Sided Picture, 2020, chromogenic print, 35.6 by 27.9 cm.
Gallery price: USD 10,000 (AUD 13,500)
Petzel Gallery, New York


Selected solo exhibitions
2020 Kunst Museum Winterthur
2020 MAST Foundation, Bologna
2019 Petzel Gallery, New York
2019 Musee d’Art Moderne, Geneva
2019 Rodolphe Janssens, Brussels
2018 Thomas Dane, Napels
2018 Regen Projects, Los Angeles
2017 Rat Hole Gallery, Tokyo
2016 Eva Presenhuber, Zurich
2014 Barbican Center, London
2013 Power Station, Dallas
2011 Ullens Center, Beijing
2009 Hirschhorn Museum, Washington
2006 Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles
2004 P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York

Selected group exhibitions
2020 City Gallery, Wellington
2019 Aichi Triennale, Japan
2019 Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach
2018 Tate Modern, London
2017 Whitechapel Gallery, London
2017 Los Angeles County Museum of Art
2016 The Art Institute of Chicago
2016 Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
2016 Camden Arts Centre, London
2015 La Biennale di Venezia
2015 Artspace, Sydney
2015 Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
2015 Jewish Museum, New York
2009 Tate Triennale, London
2008 Whitney Biennale, New York

Selected collections
Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Art Institute of Chicago
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore
Hirshhorn Museum, Washington
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles
Miami Museum of Art, Miami
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Pérez Art Museum, Miami
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Tate, London
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

ILEANA at Explore Sydney Contemporary

Walead Beshty, Dorian Büchi, Melissa Gordon, Louise Lawler, Tony Lewis, Sol LeWitt, Tim Maguire, Takesada Matsutani, Edda Renouf, Bridget Riley, Peter Schuyff, Stansfield/Hooykaas, Wang Guangyi, Christopher Wool

Presented at Explore Sydney Contemporary (11-21 November 2021)

All artworks © the artist.