Throughout the past two decades, Gillian Wearing’s films, photographs and sculptures have investigated public personas and private lives. Since the beginning of her career, the artist has drawn from techniques of theater, reality television and fly-on-the-wall documentary-making to construct narratives that explore personal fantasies and confessions, individual traumas, cultural histories, and the role of the media. Anonymity through elaborate masks, costumes and role-play has remained a critical part of Wearing’s practice and influential investigation of the ways in which individuals present themselves to others when the self is temporarily concealed.
Born in 1963 in Birmingham, Wearing present lives and works in London. She received a bachelor of technology degree in art & design from London’s Chelsea School of Art in 1987 and a BFA from Goldsmiths' College, University of London in 1990. An important member of the Young British Artists, Wearing was awarded the Turner Prize in 1997.
In 2012, Whitechapel Art Gallery in London presented a major retrospective of the artist’s work, which traveled to K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf, and to Pinakothek der Moderne’s Museum Brandhorst in Munich in 2013. Wearing's permanent sculpture A Real Birmingham Family opened in 2014 in Centenary Square outside the new Library of Birmingham, UK.
Other important solo presentations include Gillian Wearing at the Pinakothek der Moderne in the Museum Brandhorst in Munich, Germany, Self Made at the 54th BFI London Film Festival (2010), Confessions: Portraits, Videos at Musée Rodin in Paris (2009), Living Proof at ACCA, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne (2006), Snapshot at Bloomberg Space in London (2005), Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki, Finland (2004), and Mass Observation, which opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2002 and traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and to Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal in Canada in 2003.
Her work has also been shown at the Museum of Modern Art & MoMA PS1 in New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre in London, Kunsthaus Zurich in Switzerland, National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, New Museum in New York, George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, NY, and at the Hessel Museum at Bard College in New York.
Her photographs and films are represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate Britain, Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY, Contemporary Art Society in London, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Kunsthaus Zürich, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.