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Laura Owens, the artist who busted myths about Vincent Van Gogh

2 min read  · 02 Jun 2023

Installation view, “Laura Owens & Vincent Van Gogh” (2021). Image courtesy of Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, Arles

Laura Owens is on the HENI News radar as the Los Angeles-based artist’s exuberant paintings are in demand at auctions and she busts a few myths about Vincent Van Gogh.

The Los Angeles-based artist, who was born in 1970, has seen a remarkable 144% surge in her HENI Score—a unique artist sentiment—boosted by a typically exuberant take-over of the Fondation Van Gogh and a major public art commission in New York.

A prolific artist who first made her mark in the late 1990s, Owens' auction track record is impressive. Her colorful, often humorous abstract and figurative paintings have totaled $6m in sales over the past two years, led by large-scale untitled work from 2013, which sold for $1.8m at Sotheby’s, its estimated price.

Another large untitled painting from 2013 recently sold for $571,500, its estimate, also at Sotheby’s. The work featured in Owens’ mid-career survey show at the Whitney Museum in 2017, which traveled to the Dallas Museum of Art and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the following year.

The artist, who worked with the now closed Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, is represented by London’s Sadie Cole HQ and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne. Her paintings have been presented at major art fairs, including editions of Frieze and Art Basel, by her dealers.

Owens was one of the three co-founders of 356 Mission, a hyperactive, artist-run space in east Los Angeles that grew out of her studio and ran for five years until 2018.

Owens' works draw on an eclectic range of sources from high and pop culture. They often begin life on a computer. Her status as an artist who mixes figuration and abstraction in an original way is underscored by her inclusion in the sprawling group show “To Bend the Ear of the Outer World” organised by Gagosian in its London spaces in 2023.

Laura Owens, I [Pizza Slice] NY (2020) Public Art Fund commission, LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B. Courtesy of the artist, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, Sadie Cole, and Galerie Gisela Captain, Cologne. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging

Travellers passing through LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B can enjoy Owen’s bright and breezy ceramic mural, her largest work so far. A Public Art Fund commission, I [Pizza Slice] NY (2020) features a blue sky and giant white clouds along with an array of well-loved symbols of New York.

In 2021, Owens hung paintings by Van Gogh on flamboyant wallpaper she had designed in an immersive show at the Fondation Van Gogh in Arles. The patterns were inspired by the work of a little-known British female designer and an unknown French artist. “The anonymity of these artists is a counterpoint to the myth of Van Gogh,” she told Frieze magazine. Her take-over of the Dutch artist’s work stressed how instead of wild gestures: “His painting is—I hesitate to use the word—anal. It’s very tight; it’s very precise.”

To get a deeper understanding of Laura Owens' career visit her HENI Dashboard; a unique graphical data tool illustrating an artist’s auction sales, shows, profiles, mentions and their HENI Score. You can search for any one of the 100,000 Artist Dashboards to quickly appreciate their trajectory as well as sharing via email, text and WhatsApp.


Laura Owens

Los Angeles