Keith Tyson


Keith Tyson : biography

23 August 1969 –

The results of the Artmachine became the basis of Tyson’s earliest exhibited artworks; indeed, his first solo exhibition in 1996 at Anthony Reynolds Gallery in London was entitled From the Artmachine.

The Artmachine Iterations, as these works became known, established Tyson’s reputation in the UK and internationally as an original artist and thinker, and by 1999 he had mounted solo exhibitions in London, New York, Paris and Zürich, as well as contributed to group shows throughout Europe, North America and Australia.

From The Artmachine to the Turner Prize: 1999 – 2002

From 1999, Tyson’s interests practice turned from the Artmachine towards an artistic approach which explored the same thematic terrain, but this time directly by his own hand. The first such body of work was entitled Drawing and Thinking. Many of these works were installed in the international exhibition in the 2001 Venice Biennale, and contributed substantially to Tyson’s winning the Turner Prize the following year.

The exhibition in Venice included one of Tyson’s most celebrated artworks, The Thinker (After Rodin). The large hexagonal monolithic black structure, which intentionally echoed the structure seen at the beginning of the Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey, hummed with the banks of computers concealed inside.

In 2002, Tyson mounted what might be considered his breakthrough solo museum show, Supercollider at South London Gallery and then the Kunsthalle Zürich in Switzerland. The name of the exhibition, derived from the popular name for the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva, indicated the significance of scientific ways of seeing and thinking about the world to Tyson’s art at this time.

In December 2002, Tyson was awarded the British visual arts award, the Turner Prize. The other shortlisted artists that year were Fiona Banner, Liam Gillick and Catherine Yass. The Turner Prize was notorious that year not so much for the controversial nature of the work of the shortlisted artists as in previous years, but because of the comments of then Culture Minister Kim Howells. His comments that the Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain consisted of "cold, mechanical, conceptual bullshit" were greeted with both approval and criticism in the media.

Recent Work

Tyson’s first exhibition in the UK after winning the Turner Prize was Geno/Pheno Paintings in London’s Haunch of Venison Gallery in 2004. The title and concept of the series of diptychs which constitute this body of work were borrowed from biological science; each pair of artworks featured a genotype work (a generative system, formula or situation), and a phenotype (one possible expression, manifestation or consequence of the genotype). That same year in Galerie Judin in Zürich, Tyson mounted an exhibition of The Terrible Weight of History, which featured The History Paintings, which is one of the clearest and most minimal artistic expressions of Tyson’s interest in unpredictability and its representation, and his questioning of how works of art are originated.

Keith Tyson’s, Large Field Array, 2006, PaceWildenstein Gallery, New YorkIn 2005, Tyson was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Brighton. The following year, Tyson first exhibited his most monumental and ambitious work to date, Large Field Array, in the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, which then travelled to the De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art in the Netherlands and The Pace Gallery in New York. His most recent exhibition in London was in December 2007, when Tyson showed at Haunch of Venison Ten Years of Studio Paintings, 1997 – 2007. Tyson has referred to these drawings as: The drawings Tyson created on his studio wall collectively act like a kind of sketchbook for the paintings and the larger multimedia installations that have characterized Tyson’s later career. In 2009 Tyson’s work was shown at the Hayward Gallery as part of the group exhibition "Walking in My Mind". This is to be followed by a solo exhibition at Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, entitled "Cloud Choreography and Other Emergent Systems", opening in mid September. Set up as an exploration of Tyson’s practice, rather than as a mid-career survey, the exhibition will focus on the systems and processes that inform the creation of his work.

Personal life

In his personal life, Keith Tyson has admitted to having experienced a gambling addictionJonathan Romney, , The Independent, 13 September 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2012. at various times during his adult life, which he confronted just before he won the Turner Prize in 2002.

His favourite gambling method was roulette, which he described as: The roulette table is one of the inspirations behind his acclaimed History Paintings series, and other motifs from gambling and betting recur throughout his work. The University of Brighton awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Letters in summer 2005.