Divola is an American contemporary visual artist. He currently lives and works in Riverside, CA. Divola works in photography, describing himself as exploring the landscape by looking for the edge between the abstract and the specific.
Since 1975, Divola’s work has been featured in more than eighty solo exhibitions in the United States, Japan, Europe, Mexico, and Australia, including Galerie Marquardt, Paris, 1990; Laura Bartlett Gallery, London 2012: Kunstverein Freiburg, Germany; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2013; Wallspace Gallery New York, 2014.
His work has been included in more than two hundred group exhibitions in the United States, Europe, and Japan, including: “Mirrors and Windows,” The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, 1978; “1981 Biennial Exhibition,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York. 1981; “Photo Binennale, Enschede (Obsessions. From Wunderkammer to Cyberspace),” Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enchede, Netherlands. 1995 “Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity 1900-2000, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, , 2000; “Architecture Hot and Cold,” The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2000, and “Los Angeles 1955-85,” Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2006:; “Under the Big Black Sun,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angles, Ca., 2012, “Images Moving Out Onto Space,” Tate St. Ives, UK, 2015.
Although the physical subjects that John Divola photographs range from buildings to landscapes to objects in the studio, his concerns are conceptual: they challenge the boundaries between fiction and reality, as well as the limitations of art to describe life. John Divola is from Southern California, and his imagery often reflects that locale by including urban Los Angeles or the nearby ocean, mountains, and desert.
Divola grew up in the San Fernando Valley, which he credits as having an impact on his development as an artist. He earned a BA from California State University, Northridge in 1971 and an MA from University of California, Los Angeles in 1973. In college, the new art movements that inspired him–Minimalism, Conceptualism, and Earthworks–were often not easily accessible, but encountered through photographic documentation. “I came to the conclusion that [photography] was the primary arena of contemporary art,” Divola has said, “and that all painting and sculpture and performance was, from a practical point of view, made to be photographed, to be re-contextualized, and talked or written about.” After earning an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1974, Divola developed his own combination of performance art, sculpture, and installation, with photography at its conceptual core.
One of Divola’s earliest projects, Zuma (1979), brought him critical acclaim. Zuma is a photographic record made over time of a beachfront property that was being used intermittently by the fire department for fire-fighting practice. As Divola observed the building over the course of two years, it was ravaged by fire, vandalism, and the artist’s own graffiti. These acts of human “intervention,” as he saw them, became integrated with the inevitable natural processes of decay. Isolated Houses, Divola’s vivid color photographs of one-room dwellings in the desert area around Twentynine Palms, California, emerged out of his longstanding interest in the Southern California landscape. At the center of each square image is a square house-sometimes shown close up, other times, at a distance. The physical relationship between each man-made structure and its immediate surroundings blur visual distinctions between what is natural and what is artificial. Another recent project is Dogs Chasing My Car in the Desert (2004). Divola lives in Riverside, California and teaches at the University of California.
Selected public collections include:
Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia
Berkeley Art Museum, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris
Carnegie Institute, Detroit
Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Chicago Art Institute, Chicago
Denver Art Museum, Denver
Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Fotomuseum Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland
Hammer Museum, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
High Museum of Art, Atlanta
The International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY
Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Art, Tokyo
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
Philadelphia Art Museum, Philadelphia
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York