Hasted Kraeutler


Artist Biography


Awol Erizku

Working seamlessly across a wide range of mediums including photography, sculpture, and video installation, Awol Erizku (b. 1988) references and remixes disparate artistic movements and traditions, from the photorealist still lives of Dutch Masters to spare, Minimalist constructions, giving them distinctly 21st century updates. Throughout all of his work, the Ethiopia-born, New York-based artist strives to mollify what he perceives as a marked absence of people of color throughout the canon of art history, integrating contemporary fabrics, styles, and symbols with a provocatively allusive sensibility and aesthetic.

Erizku's stark, masterfully lit photographs reference classical artworks, while replacing their protagonists with models of color in order to emphasize and draw attention to the lack of racial diversity throughout the canon of art history. In his striking image Girl with a Bamboo Earring, 2009, for example, Johannes Vermeer's Dutch sitter for Girl with a Pearl Earring (ca. 1665) has been substituted by a contemporary African-American woman, who gazes out of the frame with confidence and grace. For his most recent body of work, New Flower, Erizku traveled to four different cities in Ethiopia on the Alice Kimball English Traveling Fellowship from Yale University. Working with local sex workers, he created a strikingly powerful body of photographs that reinterpret the controversial pose of Manet’s Olympia.

Just as the formal elements of Erizku’s images resist the limited parameters of historical portrait photography, their moods and psychological presences are equally distinct, illuminating the individual characteristics and personal style of every subject. To that end, he doesn’t employ models for hire, instead choosing his subjects from the world around him—passersby on the street, a man or women sitting near him in the subway car. It’s an intuitive process, often inspired by an energy he finds appealing, a “striking, undeniable beauty,” or a feature he experiences as expressive.

His interest in engaging art history while subjecting it to critical scrutiny extends to his work in other mediums, as well. A new work titled Oh what a feeling, Fuck it I want a Trillion cleverly alludes to Donald Judd’s famed series of “Stacks,” in which painted iron boxes are installed vertically on a wall, projecting nearly three feet and climbing like rungs of a ladder from floor to ceiling. In Erizku’s sculpture, those sleek, smooth, minimalist objects have been replaced with basketball hoops, a symbol of urban youth culture and a reference to his childhood on the courts of New York City.

Born in Ethiopia, Awol Erizku received his B.F.A. From The Cooper Union in 2010, and his M.F.A from Yale in 2014. His exhibition debut in New York City was in the critically acclaimed exhibition, Art•, which placed his work alongside Duane Michals, Roe Ethridge, Richard Prince, and Roy Lichtenstein at The FLAG Art Foundation in 2011.




Awol Erizku

The Only Way is Up
Jun 19 - Aug 15, 2014

Awol Erizku

Jun 14 - Jul 20, 2012


Time LightBox

How the Past Shapes Modern Photography
Oct 04, 2014


Awol Erizku : "The Only Way Is Up"
Oct 01, 2014


Top 10 Emerging Contemporary Artists
Sep 30, 2014


Forces of Nature: 28 Afropunk Hair Portraits by Artist Awol Erizku
Aug 26, 2014


Artist Awol Erizku on Creating a New Way to Look at Race in Art
Aug 07, 2014


The Best Art Exhibitions to See This Month
Aug 06, 2014

Whitehot Magazine

Awol Erizku: The Only Way Is Up
Aug 05, 2014

Huffington Post

Awol Erizku's Eight-Track
Jul 21, 2014


Awol Erizku Brings the Street Into the Gallery in “The Only Way Is Up”
Jun 20, 2014


Jun 12, 2014


Awol Erizku Curates First Show of Yale MFA Artists of Color
Apr 18, 2014


Yale University Is Having Its First All-Black Art Show
Apr 17, 2014


Beyond Basquiat : We shouldn't use "black artist" as a code for "other".
Mar 13, 2014

Harvard Gazette

Art, Turned on Its Ear
Feb 04, 2014

Chinese Photography

Awol Erizku and His Works Inspired by the History of Art
Dec 01, 2013

Installation Magazine

20+20 Photography Issue
Mar 01, 2013

Huffington Post

Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know
Feb 26, 2013


Girl with a Hoop Earring: Fun with Vermeer
Feb 14, 2013


Interview with Awol Erizku
Sep 01, 2012


Rising Star Awol Erizku Immortalizes NYC’s New Black Creative Elite With Art-Historical Flair
Jul 25, 2012


Striking Photos That Cleverly Remix Classic Works of Art
Jul 19, 2012


Erizku Takes Photos With A Positive Exposure
Jul 03, 2012

Huffington Post

Awol Erizku’s Remixed Classics Hit Hasted Kraeutler Gallery
Jun 22, 2012


Powerful Urban Portraiture by Awol Erizku
Jun 20, 2012

Guest of a Guest

Interview: Awol Erizku Talks About His New Solo Show at Hasted Kraeutler
Jun 19, 2012

Jungle Gym Magazine

Recap: Awol @ Hasted Kraeutler
Jun 16, 2012

PictureDept : A Tumblr by Newsweek and Daily Beast Photo Editors

Awol Erizku at Hasted Kraeutler Gallery
Jun 14, 2012

Art Photo Collector

Awol Erizku
Jun 13, 2012

New Things

One on One : Awol Erizku, Fine Artist
Jun 07, 2012

Milk Made

May 11, 2011


Marc Dennis, Awol Erizku & Martin Schoeller

Hasted Kraeutler artists included in Shaquille O'Neal's booth at Expo Chicago
Sep 08, 2014

Awol Erizku

The Only Way is Up, Artist's Reception
Jun 19, 2014

Awol Erizku

Jun 12, 2014

Awol Erizku

Exhibiting in DEEP END, Yale MFA Photo 2014
May 27, 2014

Written on Skin: Posing Questions on Beauty

Lecture at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Mar 25, 2014