Laura Owens

I am not interested in making people uncomfortable, but at the same time I don't have an interest in paintings that are truly passive. The best paintings are ones that require an active, discerning viewer.

In 2003 Laura Owens was given an exhibition by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles that surveyed the paintings she had done in the nine years since she had left art school. In the catalog, Paul Schimmel wrote that “hers is an art predicated on balancing intuition and intellect, encouraging multiple voices, and leveling hierarchies.” Christopher Knight, reviewing the show for the Los Angeles Times, wrote that “Owens is at the leading edge of a large coterie that has brought painting back to prominence—not through bombast but by dismissing both its pretensions and those of its grandiloquent detractors.”

Born in 1970 in Euclid, Ohio, Owens received a B.F.A. in 1992 from the Rhode Island School of Design and an M.F.A. in 1994 from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. She lives in Los Angeles. In 1994, the year she finished school, Owens was in an exhibition in Las Vegas curated by critic Dave Hickey. A year later, she had her first solo show at the Rosamund Felsen Gallery in Los Angeles. She was in a group exhibition in 1996 at the Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany, She began showing at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in New York in 1997 and was included in Young Americans 2 in 1998 at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

In 1999 she participated in the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. She made specially designed installation paintings for Inverleith House at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2000 and for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 2001. Also in 2001, she was included in Painting at the Edge of the World, organized by Douglas Fogle for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

In 2002 Owens showed a body of work in Drawing Now: Eight Propositions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Crown Point Press published two print projects with Owens in 2004 and 2010. In 2016 the CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco, presented a large solo exhibition, titled Laura Owens: Ten Paintings, of the artist’s most recent work, and in 2017 the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, exhibited a mid-career survey of her work dating from the mid-1990s to present. In 2021 the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles presented, Laura Owens & Vincent Van Gogh, an exhibition bringing together new works by Laura Owens with seven paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, most made in and around Arles.

Laura Owens’ paintings are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. She is represented by Sadie Coles HQ in London and Galerie Gisela Capitain in Cologne.

-Kathan Brown, Crown Point Press


  • Laura Owens at Crown Point Press, 2011 (5 minutes)

    Los Angeles based artist Laura Owens working at Crown Point Press in San Francisco to create two multiple-plate color aquatints in 2011.

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