Then and Now: 10 New American Paintings Alumni Who Became Art Stars

On our 25th anniversary of New American Paintings, we take a look back at some of the NAP artists who have made it big.

 

Amy Sherald
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama
2018
oil on linen
72 x 60 inches

photo courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

 

1.  AMY SHERALD (b. Columbus, GA 1973) has been a name on all of our tongues this year; In a historic and widely-covered event, chosen by Michelle Obama, she became the first artist of color to reveal a First Lady portrait at the National Portrait Gallery.  The event took place on February 12, 2018. Sherald appeared in New American Paintings South Issue #88 in 2010.  Sherald lives and works in Baltimore, MD and since her appearance in New American Paintings, she has garnered an extensive record of institutional presence with exhibitions at the California African American Museum (Los Angeles, CA), Studio Museum (Harlem, NY), Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (Washington, D.C.), Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City, MO), and National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, D.C), among others.

 

THEN:

 

Amy Sherald
THE RABBIT IN THE HAT
2009
oil on canvas
54 x 43 inches

photo courtesy of the artist

 

Amy Sherald
THEY CALL ME REDBONE, BUT I’D RATHER BE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAK
200
oil on canvas
54 x 43 inches

photo courtesy of the artist

 

NOW:

 

Amy Sherald
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama
2018
oil on linen
72 x 60 inches

photo courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

 

Amy Sherald
SHE ALWAYS BELIEVED THE GOOD ABOUT THOSE SHE LOVED
2018
oil on canvas
54 x 43 inches

photo courtesy of the artist

 

2.  JORDAN CASTEEL (b. 1989, Denver, CO) was featured in New American Paintings Northeast Issue #116 in 2015. Since the issue – in a span of only three years – she has participated in numerous esteemed (and downright impressive) exhibitions and residencies, earning her place in major institutions including MoCA, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA), The Studio Museum (Harlem, NY), and Mass MoCA (North Adams, MA).  Casteel will present her first museum solo exhibition with the Denver Art Museum (Denver, CO) in February of 2019. Currently a New York resident, her most recent body of work has embodies the sights and scenes of Harlem, NY.

 

THEN:

 

Jordan Casteel
Jerome
2014
oil on canvas
54 x 74 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Jordan Casteel
Sterling
2014
oil on canvas
54 x 72 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

NOW:

 

Jordan Casteel
Takedown
2018
oil on canvas
35 x 60 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Jordan Casteel
Twins
2017
oil on canvas
72 x 54 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

3.  NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY (b. 1983, Enugu, Nigeria) appeared in New American Paintings MFA Issue #93 in 2011.   On the heels of her New American Paintings debut, Akunyili Crosby started her residency with the Studio Museum in Harlem and has seen an already tremendous amount of success.  Since the residency, she has participated in exhibitions all around the world, including the National Portrait Gallery, London (London, England), the Pera Museum for the Istanbul Biennial (Istanbul), The Drawing Center (New York, NY), Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY), and Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco, CA).  This year, Akunyili Crosby broke auction records with the winning bid for her work, Bush Babies, landing over $2.5 million over the estimate at Sotheby’s. Born in Nigeria, Akunyili Crosby’s work focuses on global connection and history, as well as the contemporary cultural, transnational terrain.  

 

THEN:

 

Njideka Akunyili Crosby
The Rest of Her Remains
2010
acrylic, charcoal, ink , collage and Xerox transfers on paper
7 x 9 feet

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Njideka Akunyili Crosby
In the Wake of
2010
acrylic and collage on canvas
36 x 48 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

NOW:

 

Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Home: as You See Me
2017
acrylic, transfers, colored pencil, charcoal, collage and commemorative fabric on paper
7 x 7 feet

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Garden Thriving (Right Panel)
2016
acrylic, transfers, colored pencil and collage on paper
7 x 9 feet

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

 

4.  SHARA HUGHES (b.1981 Atlanta, GA) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Her work was featured in New American Paintings South Issue #58 in 2005. This year, Hughes completed her largest work to date- a giant mural on the building at Dewey Square Park, Boston, MA.  Recent solo exhibitions include Lincoln Center (New York, NY), Contemporary Art Center (Atlanta, GA), American Contemporary (New York, NY), Museum 52 (London, England),  the Newport Art Museum (Newport, RI), Gallery Met at the Metropolitan Opera (New York, NY), and Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (Atlanta, GA). Hughes was a stand-out painter at the 2017 Whitney Biennial, inciting the museum to add her work to their permanent collection. The interiors featured in NAP almost appear as landscapes - the carpet is grass or stone and the rug is a river.  It’s no surprise that Shara is now focusing on paintings of outdoor scenes and experiences.

 

THEN:

 

Shara Hughes
Untitled
2005
oil, acrylic and pencil on canvas
48 x 47.9 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist and artsy

 

Shara Hughes
Untitled
2005
oil, acrylic and pencil on canvas
50 x 53.9 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist and artsy

 

 

NOW:

 

Shara Hughes
Narnia
2017
oil and acrylic on canvas
78 x 70 inches (198.1 x 177.8 cm)

Photo courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery

 

Shara Hughes
Glow In The Dark
2017
oil and acrylic on canvas
68 x 60 inches (172.7 x 152.4 cm)

Photo courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery

 

 

5.  BRIAN CALVIN (b. 1969 Visalia, CA) was featured in New American Paintings Midwest Issue #11 in 1997.  That’s right -- #11. If you are a long-time reader, you might remember Calvin’s 1990’s earth-toned, darkly humorous takes on historical paintings and pop culture gracing the NAP pages.  His more recent (and sometimes controversial) paintings still pack a referential punch, but have evolved into the brightly-colored, hauntingly stagnant paintings we now know. He currently lives and works in Ojai, CA and his work has been featured at numerous heavy-hitter galleries, such as Corbett vs. Dempsey (Chicago, IL), Anton Kern (New York, NY), Almine Rech Gallery (Paris, France; Brussels, Belgium; New York, NY).

 

THEN:

 

Brian Calvin
Sorry So Sloppy
1996
acrylic on canvas
24 x 32 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Brian Calvin
Crossing the Potomac
acrylic on canvas
54 x 72 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

NOW:

 

Brian Calvin
Duet (I)
2018
acrylic on canvas
70 x 56 inches

Photo courtesy of Anton Kern Gallery

 

Brian Calvin
In The Distance
2017
acrylic on canvas
60 x 48 inches

Photo courtesy of Anton Kern Gallery

 

 

6.  SARAH CAIN (b. 1979 Albany, NY) now lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She was featured in New American Paintings Pacific Coast Issue #73 in 2007, within a year after her summer at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (Skowhegan, ME). In her NAP we got to see the beginnings of what has become a large part of Cain’s practice - a site specific installation, essential to her painting practice. In one of the recent photos from this last year, we see Cain’s large outdoor installation on the outside of the ICA Los Angeles.  Recent group exhibitions include Pizzuti Collection (Columbus, OH), Honor Fraser (Los Angeles, CA), Armory Art Fair (New York, NY), CCA Wattis Institute (San Francisco, CA, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (San Diego, CA), San Antonio Museum of Art (San Antonio, TX), LACMA (Los Angeles, CA), and Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery (Saratoga Springs, NY).

 

THEN:

 

Sarah Cain
Take heed take heart
glass beads, coral beads, string, cardboard, metallic black thread, color copy, gouache, latex, beva, holifax on canvas
20.5 x 16 x 3 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Sarah Cain
It will go down like a dark ship
latex, gouache and spray paint on wall
dimensions variable (installation view)

photo courtesy of the artist

 

NOW:

 

installation view: Sarah Cain, Now I’m going to tell you everything, 2018, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA

photo courtesy of Honor Fraser

 

Sarah Cain
sight and light
2017
acrylic and oil bar on canvas
60 x 48 inches

Photo courtesy of Honor Fraser

 

 

7.  EDDIE MARTINEZ (b. 1977 Groton, CT) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.  He was featured in New American Paintings Northeast Issue #68 in 2007.  In the past 11 years we have seen Martinez delve deeper and dirtier into his practice; the forms have become bolder and more abstract and the paint and application have become blatantly unapologetic. The works featured in NAP Martinez has had solo exhibitions at Drawing Center (New York, NY), Davis Museum at Wellesley College (Wellesley, Massachusetts), Peres Projects (Berlin, Germany), Half Gallery (New York, NY), The Journal Gallery (Brooklyn, NY) and ZieherSmith (New York, NY). This year Martinez has an upcoming solo exhibition with the Bronx Museum.  

 

THEN:

 

Eddie Martinez
WILD PILGRIMS
acrylic on panel
36 x 48 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Eddie Martinez
UNTITLED
ca 2006
mixed media on paper
6 x 7 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

NOW:

 

Eddie Martinez
Future passed
2018
silkscreen ink, oil paint and spray paint collaged canvas and thumbtacks on canvas

Photo courtesy of Mitchell-Innes & Nash

 

 

Eddie Martinez
Love Letter #15 (Fine Ants)
2017
silkscreen ink, oil, spray paint and enamel on canvas
296 x 75 inches

Photo courtesy of Mitchell-Innes & Nash

 

8.  LOIE HOLLOWELL (b. 1983 Woodland, CA) had her New American Paintings debut in the MFA Issue #93 in 2011. In Soporific, the folds and wrinkles are Trompe-l'œil - a precursor to the illusions and deep understanding of manipulation of light and surface, soon to develop further in her recent body of work.  These visual effects paired with the integration of female bodily forms are what give us the iconogrto aphically yonic works of today. She is currently represented by PACE Gallery and has been featured in exhibitions with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AK), Anton Kern Gallery (New York, NY) Andrehn-Schiptjenko (Stockholm, Sweden), White Cube Bermondsey (London, England), and Rental Gallery (East Hampton, NY).

 

THEN:

 

Loie Hollowell
inverse
ink on cotton denim
18 x 22 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Loie Hollowell
Soporific
ink on cotton denum
18 x 22 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

NOW:

 

Loie Hollowell
From the Beginning (inversed)
2017
medium, sawdust, high density foam on linen over panel
48 x 36 x 2 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Loie Hollowell
Point of Entry (lingam between teal circles)
2017
oil, acrylic medium, sawdust, high density foam on linen over panel
48 x 36 x 3.5 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

 

 

9.  MATTHEW DAY JACKSON (b. 1974 Panorama City, CA) appeared in New American Paintings MFA Annual in 2001. Jackson’s current body of work is strikingly different from his paintings in NAP, but we can see some hints in the early paintings of what was soon to come; In MASTER, there is a large black square, maybe a blank screen, and symbol of a failed digital eutopia- a theme consistently explored and dissected in Jackson’s recent work.  His work has been shown with Drents Museum Assen (Assen, Netherlands), Van Goghhuis (Zunden, Netherlands), Museum Kranenburgh (Bergen, Netherlands), Firstsite (Colchester, England), Yorkshire Sculpture Park (West Bretton, UK), Hauser & Wirth (New York, NY), and ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art (Karlsruhe, Germany).  

 

THEN:

 

Matthew Day Jackson
Servant
oil on panel
24 x 24 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Matthew Day  Jackson
Master
oil on panel
24 x 24 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

NOW:

 

Matthew Day Jackson
Destroyed by Fire (The Park at Arles with the Entrance Seen through the Trees)
2017
scorched wood on panel, powder coated stainless steel frame
41 1/4 x 37 x 3 in

Photo courtesy of GRIMM

 

Matthew Day Jackson
A Stoneware Vase of Flowers
2017
Formica, silkscreen, acrylic paint on epoxy, resin on panel, stainless steel frame
61.5 x 48 x 2 inches

Photo courtesy of Hauser & Wirth, the artist, and Matthew Kroening

 

 

10.  SUMMER WHEAT (Oklahoma City, OK) has been featured in New American Paintings twice: Northeast Issues #98 and #104.  Wheat first became known for her portraits of women, piling and layering paint to the point of relief. Recently, she has expanded the scene, keeping the texture, but focusing on line and shape more than ever before. Rather than smearing the paint on the surface, she has started to push the paint through metal mesh from the back.  Exhibitions have been presented by Andrew Edlin gallery (New York, NY), Smack Mellon (Brooklyn, NY), Braverman gallery (Tel Aviv, Israel), Henry Museum of Art (Seattle, WA), Oklahoma Contemporary (Oklahoma City, OK), ICA Boston (Boston, MA), and Steven Zevitas Gallery (Boston, MA), and Samson (Boston, MA), among others.

 

THEN:

 

Summer Wheat
Moldy Brain Eater
2010
acrylic and oil on canvas
16 x 20 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

Summer Wheat
Banka and Borth
2011
acrylic and oil on canvas

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

 

NOW:

 

installation view, Summer Wheat, Inside the Garden, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY, March 10 – April 22, 2018

photo courtesy of the artist

 

Summer Wheat
Swamp Hunters
2018
acrylic on aluminum mesh
68 x 144 inches

Photo courtesy of the artist