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Petra Cortright

(Santa Barbara, California, 1986 - )

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Petra Cortright (Santa Barbara, CA, 1986) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She has studied fine art at Parsons The School of Design, New York, NY (2008) and the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA (2004).

Selected exhibitions include: the “4th Ural Industrial Biennial Of Contemporary Art,” Ekaterinburg and other cities of the Ural region, Russia; “RUNNING NEO-GEO GAMES UNDER MAME,” City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (solo) (both 2017); "Electronic Superhighway,” Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK; "Shift, Stretch, Expand: Everyday Transformations,” Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, CA (both 2016); “The Metabolic Age,” MALBA, Buenos Aires, Argentina; "On YouTube. Kunst und Playlists aus 10 Jahren,“ Kunsthaus Langenthal, Switzerland; “Im Inneren der Stadt,” Künstlerhaus Bremen, Germany; "NIKI, LUCY, LOLA, VIOLA,” Depart Foundation, Los Angeles, CA (solo) (all 2015); "Art Post-Internet,” Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing, China (2014); Frieze Film, Frieze London, UK; and the 12th Bienniale de Lyon, France (both 2013.)

Petra Cortright creates and distributes digital files—videos, GIFs, and jpegs—using consumer or corporate software and platforms. She rose to prominence with her performative self-portrait videos first uploaded to YouTube in 2007, which she produced using her computer’s webcam and default video effects tools. The titles of her work are inspired by web searches and subject headings of spam email. Often described as a net or post-Internet artist, Cortright extends her practice beyond those categories to engage in histories of gestural painting and installation. “The internet and digital tools are completely present in my work,” explained Cortright, “because I grew up using these tools. But I also think about making art in terms of color and space and imagery.”

Recently, Cortright has been making digital paintings that recall the genres of landscape, still life, and abstraction by cobbling together visual content sourced online to construct a new visual language. Using Photoshop, she breaks apart pictures, icons, videos, GIFs, games, and pornography into hundreds of layers of patterns, marks, shapes, and images, which she then transforms into tangled webs of scribbles, swoops, and swipes. Recognizable images often emerge from her densely layered compositions: sculptures, antiques, vases, flowers, and animals, merging digital culture with nature and material culture. Her high-resolution “mother” files result in a number of related works, including two-dimensional paintings printed on rag paper, Belgian linen, and aluminum, as well as “painted” videos that reveal their multi-layered process of creation.

This would be the first two works by Cortright to enter into the collection.

Born in 1986 in Santa Barbara, Petra Cortright received a BFA from California College of the Arts, San Francisco in 2004 and MFA from Parsons School of Design, New York in 2008. She received the Future-Proof award from Rhizome in 2015. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally and is in the collections of Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Cortright lives and works in Los Angeles. (acquisitions meeting November 6, 2017)

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