Laura Bruce is an American artist who has lived in Berlin since 1990. She studied for her MFA at the Slade School of Art in London. Her work explores the relationships between nature and myth. Her images burst with blobs and the bubbles break down the barriers between the landscape and another impossible world. Her paintings, drawings and sculpture represent transitions between the real world and another plane. Her large paintings take this further and she creates complex layers, working on large wood panels. She likes the way the brushes “scratch” the hard surface, allowing her to draw with paint. Her amazing colour palette enhances the fantasy element of her landscapes that explore a virtual kingdom, on the edge of abstraction. Her sculptures have a childlike “model” quality, a roughly hewn approach to narrative. Like immature “toy” sets for a play we have never seen, the objects are painted and cluster on work-horse like trestles and tell a linear story, like a Chinese scroll. Although Laura Bruce works primarily as a painter, video artist and sculptor, she has for the last 5 years, concentrated on exploring drawing itself, concentrating on the basics of black and white and everything in between. Her method of drawing with graphite, or sometimes graphite with colored pencil, stems from an innate desire to be as direct, uncomplicated, and immediate as possible. Her drawings morph between reality and fantasy. Their abstraction examines narratives of domesticity, nature, and the precariousness of life. They give nature itself a complete life of its own, a type of parallel life that we are not aware of.
Laura Bruce Overview by Gregory Volk 2017
In complex and varied work largely accomplished over the past 20 years while she has lived as an American expatriate in Berlin, Laura Bruce has explored and excelled at paintings, sculptures, videos and performances. Over the past several years large black and white graphite drawings on paper have also become an important part of her oeuvre. Bruce’s mesmerizing drawn suburban “snapshots ” are based in part on her native suburban New Jersey and exurban Atlanta. In them you see houses, yards, people outside of those houses, and circumscribed nature (a few leafy trees, manicured lawns, small patches of forest) which is exceptionally powerful and majestic, but also threatening and unnerving. With their backyard wonderment and neighborhood sublimity, Bruce’s 21st century drawings—which have been exhibited widely to considerable acclaim—have echoes of 19th century European Romantic painting and Hudson River School painting in the U.S.
While intently focusing on drawing, Bruce has also expanded her oeuvre to include striking architectural installations/interventions. Jane (2010), one of her two works in the Fokus Lodz Biennial in Poland, was a stunning painting installation for which Bruce first restored and repaired the former restaurant/bar in a once grand, but later decrepit, building. Using special colors made by mixing fluorescent hues in white wall paint, she then painted the walls and ceiling blue, the floor a light green, cupboards pale purple, and lamps bright yellow, resulting in a highly mediated interior version of the outside at dusk, including the sky, clouds, grass, and stars. Derelict (2010), also in Poland, featured a swirling charcoal drawing that climbed up one wall and angled across the ceiling, while a fluorescent pink painted form swept across the floor and spread up part of a neighboring wall. These installations led to De Sepentrione ad Austrum (2015) in Aschersleben, Germany, one of Bruce’s signature projects: a permanent wall mural made of color pastel on green school board paint. Bruce’s bedazzling and engrossing site-specific drawing is based on a 1649 map by Adam Olearius, an explorer and an illustrious citizen of Aschersleben who ventured to Persia and the Caspian Sea, among many other places. With its mesh of hand drawn lines and subdued yet vibrant colors, Bruce’s work evokes distant, marvelous lands and also hints at the intricacies of Persian carpets.
Bruce has also expanded her approach to drawing, to include handwritten textual drawings, sculptures which seem in part like three-dimensional drawings, and a series of graphite and color pencil drawings (eventually there will be 85) based on Goya’s print series Los Caprichos (1797-98). In Bruce’s drawing North (2008), a man routinely walks his dog down the street, but the familiar environs have morphed unpredictably. Small trees and their cast shadows (and the small trees appear to be spinning like cyclones), huge leaning trees overhead, houses that are perhaps smoldering, a tumultuous sky overhead, and in the middle of it all what could easily be the funnel of a tornado make the whole scene at once awe-inspiring and dangerous. In the handwritten, yet visually eventful drawing Follow the Train Tracks (2016), a local excursion doubles as a complex and mysterious voyage of discovery. In Rush (2012), a sculptural tableau made of painted wood atop a wood sawhorse, a small human figure outdoors seems wary of, but also enchanted by curving and looming cloud-like or perhaps wave-like forms, one yellow and the other black. At once playful and severe, whimsical and alarming, this highly mediated version of a sublime experience in nature is altogether compelling. While accomplished in different mediums and painstakingly made, Bruce’s works function as transportive forces, conjuring moments of revelation and surprise when one’s whole orientation is suddenly altered, challenged, and intensified.
1959 born in East Orange, New Jersey, United States
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany
1995-97 MFA sculpture: The Slade School of Fine Art, London, UK; 1980-83 BFA painting: State University of New York at New Paltz, New York; 1980 Foundation Courses: Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York; 1995-99 lived and worked in London
2012 Losito Kunstpreis; 2010 Projektstipendium/project grant Senatskanzlei - Kulturelle Angelegenheiten/Senate for Cultural Activities, Berlin; 2009 Residency, Schloss Balmoral, Germany 2008 Workshop-Stipendium, Künstlerhäuser Worpswede; Käthe Dorsch Project Grant 2004 catalog grant, Kunstfonds, Germany; residency, Schloss Wiepersdorf, Germany; 2003 Käthe Dorsch Foundation Grant, Berlin; residency, Art Omi, New York, USA; catalog grant Berlin Senate for Cultural Activities; 2002 work grant for Film und Video, Berlin; 2001 residency, “Die Höge”, Högenhausen; 2000 work grant Stiftung Kulturfonds, Berlin
2011, Steady, Vattenfall Foundation, Berlin; Whippersnapper, Fahnemann Projects, Berlin, 2008, The Hunt, fruehsorge contemporary drawings, Berin; 2007 Night Twist, Delikatessenhaus, Leipzig; 2006 Landowners, Galerie Pankow, Berlin; 2005 Big Sky, Galerie Ulrike Buschlinger, Wiesbaden 2004 The Wide, Büro für Kunst, Dresden, Germany (catalog), 1-100 in Four Rooms, The Tankhalle, Schloss Wiepersdorf, Wiepersdorf 2003 Domestic Blur, Floating IP, Manchester, UK; 2002 Grasslands, Eyewash, Brooklyn, NY; Jane’s Dilemma, Büro für Kunst, Dresden (brochure); 2001 The Rainy Season, Sparwasser, Berlin; 2000 Maryanne by the Water, Galerie im Parkhaus, Berlin
2014 „Vanity Case“, Galerie Amel Bourbouina, Berlin; „Painting Was a Lady“, WK, NYC; „A Line is a Line is a Line“ , Galerie Pankow, Berlin; „SOLO II“, Ozean, Berlin; „Paperworlds“ Me Collectors Room, Berlin; „Latent“ Kreuzberg Pavillion, Berlin, „Criss-Cross“, Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Berlin; „Brennpunkt“, Galerie Forum Amalienpark, Berlin"Gossip," Trafo Center of Contemporary Art, Stettin; "paperworlds," me collectors room Berlin;
2013 „On Paper,“ Eigen & Art LAB, Berlin; „Die Kunst der Zeichnung“, Kunstverein Ingelheim; „BERLINER SALON / PART II,” Kunsthaus Meiningen; „Darkness, Baby;“ Schaufenster, Berlin; „The Pleasure House is about to Burn Down,“ Galerie Jaap Sleper, Utrecht, Holland; „Ganz im Vorübergehen“ Galerie Harthan, Stuttgart; “Hinter den Dingen”, Galerie Heike Strelow, Frankfurt
2012 Biennial of Drawing, Kunstverein Eislingen; Kühllabor, Krakau Ebene, Austria; "I Wish This Was a Song" Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, 2011 On Paper, Galerie Fahnemann, Berlin; Synecdoche, Galerie Amel Bourounia, Berlin; Discover and Escape, Orth, Offenbach; Outdoor Excursions, Burlington Contemporary Arts, Vermont; 2010 Fokus Lodz Biennale, Lodz, Poland; "Drawings II," Fahnemann Projects, Berlin; "Reading Room #4 – FUKT MAGAZINE ," Nomas Foundation, Rome; “Awake Forever in a Sweet Unrest,” Cream Contemporary, Berlin; “City Beats,” curated by Berit Fischer, BankArt, Yokahama, Japan; “km 500 2,” Kunsthalle Mainz (cat.); “Blend,” Arp Museum, Rehmagen; “Pollyfizzyboisterous Seas,” Galerie Hartwich, Sellin auf Rügen; Fokus Lodz Biennale 2010, Lodz, Poland
2009 “The Carnival Within,” curated by Gregory Volk and Sabine Russ, Uferhallen, Berlin; “City Beats,” curated by Berit Fischer, Dorsky Gallery, NY 2008 “City Beats,” curated by Berit Fischer, Zendai MoMA, Shanghai; Linie08, DINA4 Galerie, Muenchen; Menschen und Orte, Kunstverein Konstanz, Konstanz
2007 “American Beauty”, Galerie Baer, Dresden
2006 “Even the Drawers are Winners”, Klara Wallner Galerie, Berlin
2005 “Schönheit, Der Sprung im Spiegel”, Städtische Galerie Traunstein 2004 Künstler der Galerie, Galerie Ulrike Buschlinger, Weisbaden, Germany; “Size Does Matter”, eyewash@ Boreas Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; “The Medium is the Tedium”, The Collective Gallery, Edinburgh;
2003 “Pierogi Flatfiles“, Carlsbad Museum, New Mexico; “Expand“, Volkart Stiftung, Winterthur, Switzerland (catalog) (travels to Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen); “Art Cubicle“, Projektraum Mathias Kampl, Berlin; “Wheeling“, curated by Marcus Sendlinger, Galerie Jette Rudolph, Berlin (travels Post Gallery, LA; Cell Project Space, London);
2002 “Stardust Deluxe“, Lisa Lounge, Berlin; “Wachsernde Identitäten”, Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin; "Over the Moon", Kunstamt Kreuzberg, Berlin; “Private Affairs”, Kunsthaus Dresden (catalog); “Thin Skin”, AXA Gallery (catalog), New York, curated by ICI NY, (travels until 2004 to Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, AZ; Gemeentemuseum Helmond, The Netherlands; International Museum of Art and Science in McAllen, McAllen, TX ; Chicago Cultural Center, IL; Boise Art Museum, ID Texas,) 2001 “What’s Wrong?”, Trade Apartment, London; Kunst+Brief”, Galerie im Parkhaus, Berlin (catalog); “If we were Kings”, Adlershof, KMZ, Berlin, Adlershof; “Berlin_London_2001”, ICA, London
2000 “The Old News”, PS 122, New York; “no vacancies”, curated by Angelika Richter and Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin (CD Rom); “John, I’m only Dancing...’ part 2, The Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland; Non Plus Ultra, F M Schwarz, Köln; We’re not in Kansas Anymore, Poplar Baths, London; John, I’m Only Dancing..., Margaret Harvey Gallery, University of Hertfordshire, St. Albans, England
"I Wish This Was A Song" and "The Dangerpony Project" with Loushy Art and Projects, Tel Aviv
2013 Neue Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin
2012 “I Wish This Was A Song”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo; “Missklang,” West Germany, Berlin
2010 Picture disk vinyl release, West Germany, Berlin
2009 “The Carnival Within,” Uferhallen, Berlin
Berlinische Galerie, Video Forum NBK, Kupferstichkabinett Berlin, Vattenfall Foundation, Kunstsammlung des Landes Rheinland-Pfalz, and private collections in Europe and abroad
2013 Catalog „ungesehen und ungehört: Künstler reagieren auf die Sammlung Prinzhorn“, Sammlung Prinzhorn, Heidelberg; Catalog „Die Kunst der Zeichnung“, Kunstverein Essenheim / Altes Rathaus Ingelheim.; 2012 Catalog "I Wish This Was a Song" Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo; Catalog "Biennial of Drawing", Kunstverein Eislingen
2011 "Laura Bruce," Fahnemann Projects 2010 Catalog “Laura Bruce: The Castle Drawings”; ”Helmut Germer and Thomas Neeser, The First Dimension (Basel: Birkhauser, 2010),
2009 Catalog “The Carnival Within,” Uferhallen, Berlin; Catalog “Fully Booked,” Hotel Beethoven, Bonn; Catalog “Was ist dass?” espace artcore/JTM Gallery, Paris
2008 Catalog, “The Hunt” fruehsorge contemporary drawings
2007 “Drunk on Dreams,” FUKT Magazine and exhibition catalog; Review, “Grüne Propheten im Heiligen Zorn,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 22 May
2006 “The Animation Issue,” FUKT Magazin; Catalog, “Landowners,” Galerie Pankow; “Über das Schwarzweiss Zeichnerischer Selbstbestimmung” (“The Black and White of Drawn Self Determination”) 2005 Review, “Endlich glücklich sitzen”, Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, 22. März; Wiesbadener Kurier, Review “Buschlicnger: Arbeiten von Laura Bruce”, 26 März 2004 Catalog “Laura Bruce” Texts by Mark Gisbourne, Uta Grundman, Jan Verwoert; article, “Laura Bruce - The Wide”, Sächsiche Zeitung, PLUSZ, 22 April; article, “The hidden beauty of everyday objects we take for granted”, Scotland on Sunday, 29 Feb; article, “Mind your Language”, The Scotsman, 16 March; article, The List, issue 489; article, The Big Issue, issue 465; 2003 interview, Metro Newspaper, Manchester, 14 Nov; 2002 BBC Open University Television Program on Contemporary Video Art written and narrated by Dave Beech; article, "Kleiner Abwasch in Zwickau: eine Küchenrevolution", Katje Uhlemann, Freie Presse, 4.12.02; brochure, Laura Bruce, Büro für Kunst, Dresden; catalog, “Private Affairs”, Kunsthaus Dresden; catalog, “Thin Skin”, Independent Curators International, New York City, New York; catalog, “Wachsernde Identitäten”, Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin; article, Jens Bisky, Wachs noch einmal, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 1/2 June; article, Susanne Altmann, “Sensation Intimität”, Tageszeitung, 3 April; article, Susanne Altmann, “Feenland ist Abgebrannt?”, Dresdener Zeitschrift, March; review, Lisa Werner-Art, “Video, Video…und Alltag”, Dresdener Neueste Nachrichten, 22 March; review, “Doppelausstellung privater Affairen, Dresdener Stadtteil Zeitung, March; article, Klara Wallner, "mittendrin und andersartig", Magazine Friedrichstraße, 1/01; 2001 Kunstbrief 2000, Dokumention, Galerie im Parkhaus, Berlin; review, Angelika Richter, “Die Hochzeitsbetrachterin”, www.blitzreview.com; 2000 review, Christian Glöde, “Good Losties”, www.blitzreview.com; review, Jürgen Kisters, “Verlangen nach dem Höchsten”, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger Nr 132, 8 June; review, Sally O’Reilly, “We’re not in Kansas Anymore”, www.londonart.co.uk, May; review, Oliver Koerner, “Loved Ones”, Tageszeitung, 7 March; review, Mirko Driller, “Der schwebende Großvater”, Berliner Morgenpost, 3 March; brochure, Maryanne by the Water, Galerie im Parkhaus, Berlin; 1999 “...ab geht die Post”, documentation, Aktions Galerie, Berlin; Kunstbrief 1999, documention, Galerie im Parkhaus, Berlin; 1997 documentation, The Slade Journal, Volume 1