I want to seduce people into thinking – Ellen Harvey

Ellen Harvey is a British-born conceptual artist whose work ranges from guerrilla street interventions like her iconic New York Beautification Project for which she painted miniature landscapes over New York’s graffiti sites to immersive institutional installations and large-scale public artworks. Her work is painting-based but utilizes a wide variety of media and participatory strategies to explore several reoccurring themes such as the social and ecological implications of the picturesque, the revolutionary potential of ornament, the potential detoxification of nostalgia and the role of art and the artist in our society.

Her current project The Disappointed Tourist, for which she has been painting lost sites suggested by members of the public, has formed the centerpiece of a traveling retrospective that has been exhibited at the Butler Gallery (Ireland), Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art (Poland), Museum der Moderne Salzburg (Austria) and Turner Contemporary (UK). The exhibition at Turner Contemporary was selected by Frieze as one of the five best institutional shows in the UK in 2021. 

She has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and internationally, including in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Solo museum exhibitions (other than her recent retrospective) have included the Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia), the Groeninge Museum (Belgium), the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington DC), the Bass Museum (Miami Beach), the Center for Contemporary Art (Warsaw, Poland), the Pennsylvania Academy (Philadelphia) and the Whitney Museum at Altria (New York). 

She has completed large-scale public artworks for the Miami Beach Convention Center, Metro-North’s Yankee Stadium station, New York’s Queens Plaza subway station, Chicago’s Francisco station, Boston’s South Station, the San Francisco Airport, the Philadelphia International Airport, the Andover Internal Revenue Service Offices and the Flemish National Architect, as well as for other venues.

She is the author of the recently reissued New York Beautification Project, and her work has been the subject of four monographs to date. 

She is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program, Yale Law School and Harvard College and attended the Berlin Hochschule der Kunste in Germany. She is the recipient of numerous awards including most recently a Smithsonian Artists Research Fellowship, the Wivina Demeester Prize for Commissioned Public Art and a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. 

Her work is represented in numerous institutional collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Bass Museum of Art (Miami Beach), SMAK (Ghent, Belgium), Berkeley Museum of Art, Bunker Art Space (Palm Beach), Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences (West Virginia), Art Omi, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Princeton Art Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Gwangju Art Museum (Korea), Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea (Santiago de Compostela, Spain), among others.

Ellen lives and works in Brooklyn and is represented by Locks Gallery (Philadelphia) and  Meessen De Clercq (Brussels, Belgium).

Mermaid Eats Artist, Photograph: Thilo Hoffman, 2019