Joel Shapiro

United States of America  born 1941

Joel Shapiro was born in New York on 27 September 1941. He studied at New York University between 1962 and 1964 for his BA, followed by an MA from 1967 to 1969. He held his first solo exhibition at the Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, in 1970, and came to prominence during the 1970s with small-scale sculptures strategically sited within the expanse of the gallery space. Shapiro was included in The Small Scale in Contemporary Art, Art Institute of Chicago, 1975, and Critical Perspectives in American Art, Fine Arts Center Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1976, which travelled to the American Pavilion at the 37th Venice Biennale.

Shapiro was the subject of major solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1976, and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1980, with a mid-career retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York in 1982–83. In the 1980s the artist turned his attention to the human figure with the exploration of larger-scale work leading to a number of public commissions during the 1980s and 1990s. These developments in Shapiro’s sculpture were surveyed in the touring exhibition Tracing the Figure organised by the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, in 1990. He lives and works in New York. Shapiro has received numerous awards, and was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1998.

See more works by this artist in the NGA collection

Joel Shapiro Untitled (chair) 1974 © Joel Shapiro. ARS/Copyright Agency Purchased 1974 Learn more