(American, b. 1978)
Darren Bader is a contemporary American artist, born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1978. As a sculptor, he remains loyal to his interest in form and form in space yet pushes the boundaries that traditionally define sculpture to convey his doubts about the contemporary art world’s terms of engagement. Although his practice is grounded in the multiple facets of art history and art theory that come with his Bachelor’s in Art History from New York University, it is his work in experimental filmmaking that exposed him to the liberating freedom that a lack of narrative structure permits. It is the pursuit of this very freedom, coupled with the permissive culture of the contemporary art world, that propels his career.
Bader’s conceptual work challenges traditional understandings of art and authorship by exposing how art circulates physically, economically, and digitally. In 2014, Bader’s contribution to the Whitney American Museum of Art’s Biennial was an installation of two donation boxes on the Museum’s ground floor. One read, “all donations will go to something”, the other read, “all donations will go to nothing.” Visitors were encouraged to donate accordingly. In 2015, as a contribution to global art dealer Christie’s Post–War and Contemporary sale, Bader asked the public to help him raise money through a crowd funding website. The work auctioned was literally the money he raised—ten thousand five hundred and forty–two dollars. In Bader’s own words, “This is not a joke, it is not a scam—it’s an artwork. I’m not going to make any money off of it; the winning bid is going to charity.” In 2016, at his Such Are Promises exhibition at Sadie Coles HQ, London, Bader sold the rights to restage five chess games he conceived on a large–scale ceramic chessboard for thirty thousand dollars. Bader’s capricious practice takes a vast variety of configurations, yet it consistently questions what art is and how its circulation defines its attributions of authorship.
Bader currently lives and works in New York City. He won the Calder Prize in 2013, and his work has been exhibited in several major art institutions worldwide, including Tate Modern, London; Serralves Museum, Portugal; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome; Kunstverein in Hamburg, Hamburg; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Written by Jill Ingrassia–Zingales, AM