Judith Simonian

Judith Simonian

Fellow: Awarded 2014
Field of Study: Fine Arts

Competition: US & Canada

Cooper Union

Judith Simonian is a painter living and working in New York City. With more than thirty solo exhibitions and site installations, and numerous group shows, her work has garnered critical attention in publications that include Flash Art, Art in America, ARTNews, Arts Magazine, Arts and Architecture, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times. She is represented in New York City by Edward Thorp Gallery alongside highly regarded artists June Leaf, Katherine Bradford, Judith linhares, and Matt Blackwell.

She paints a radiant but unstable world where physical events of landscape and interior spaces are unreliable and change before our eyes. In his Brooklyn Rail review, Shane MacAdams describes how  “she abstracts the concrete, reifies the intangible and in the process, has a way of making her places open to everyone.” Historically rooted in early twentieth-century assemblage methods of disjunctive placement, Simonian is concerned with how the brain can reassemble these fragments in a number of exciting and irrational ways. She agrees with Phillip Guston’s credo that  “it is illegal to understand your own paintings,”  leaving interpretation up to the viewer. In texture and imagery there is a sense of peeling away to reveal earlier narratives that suggests deteriorating surfaces of wall frescoes.

Simonian was born in Los Angeles where she received M.A. and B.A. degrees at California State University, Northridge. When she was invited to join Grandview Galleries (that evolved into Double X, a feminist art coalition) alongside relevant artists such as Miriam Shapiro and Suzanne Lacy it was a major turning point. An art career did not seem out of reach.

She was instrumental in the development of the downtown Los Angeles art scene in the 1980s that spawned numerous gallery and museum shows, installations, and performances in which she was a major participant. These include the San Francisco Museum of Art,  Santa Barbara Museum of Art,  Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art (LAICA ), and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions where she served on the board of directors for two years. Most meaningful for her was the first biennial at the Newport Harbor Museum (curated by Paul Schimmel) where she was given an  entire gallery, adjacent to galleries with two of her art heroes, Charles Garabedian and Mike Kelly.

Once she relocated to New York her participation and contributions continued both in town and internationally. Venues  in New York include the New Museum, Creative Time, a project at P.S.1/MOMA titled Modern Excavation that involved sandblasting into a wall rather than painting with brushes and paint. Internationally  she has shown in Japan, Europe, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and in the 2000 London Biennale that took place in various sites around the city before it migrated to Kai Hilgerman Gallery in Berlin where she filled the room with Wall to Wall Eros.


Her paintings are in the permanent collections of  the Kaufman and Broad foundations  in Los Angeles and in Paris; UCLA/Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Orange County Museum of Art;  Fresno Art Museum;  Palm Desert Museum; and Madison Museum of Art, Wisconsin, among other public and private institutions.

In addition, she has received grants and residency fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Confederation of the Arts, Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, and Fundacion Valparaiso in Spain. She currently teaches at the Cooper Union and has taught at St. Michaels College in Burlington, Vermont, and in California at Otis/Parsons School of Design, Claremont Graduate School, and California State University, Long Beach.

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