Thomas Lawson


In October 1981, Thomas Lawson published an essay in ArtForum titled ''Last Exit: Painting.''

In it he declared that photo-based painting could be just as relevant as other forms of appropriation art, and championed the work of Jack Goldstein and David Salle, among others.

Associated with the Pictures Generation, Thomas Lawson (b. 1951, Glasgow) is invested in the politics of painting. His painterly experiments disrupting image, perception, palette, temporality calls meaning into question. Portraits render mythological and recent historical events and figures in Neo-Surrealist ways.  He has shown paintings at Metro Pictures in New York, Anthony Reynolds in London, and David Kordansky Gallery (2012), Richard Kuhlenschmidt and Rosamund Felsen galleries in Los Angeles.


Lawson has been the subject of solo exhibitions that include the Dallas Biennial (2014); Participant Inc (2009); LAXART, Los Angeles (2007); Third Eye Centre, Glasgow and Battersea Arts Centre, London (1990); and the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, California (1987). Recent group exhibitions include Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and The Broad Art Foundation, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2013); Made in L.A. 2012, organized by the Hammer Museum and LAXART, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2012); and The Pictures Generation: 1974 - 1984, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2009). His work is in the public collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and Tate, London, among other museums. Lawson lives and works in Los Angeles and is the Dean of the School of Art at CalArts, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of East of Borneo.


Thomas Lawson is an artist with a diverse, project-driven output. He has exhibited paintings in numerous galleries and museums around the world, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, to the Hammer Museum and MoCA in Los Angeles, to Magasin in Grenoble, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. Surveys of his work have been organized by the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art at La Jolla, the CCA in Glasgow, and the Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas. He has created temporary public works in New York, New Haven, Glasgow, Newcastle and Madrid. He has written extensively about contemporary art for various publications, including Artforum, Flash Art, and Afterall, and an anthology of his writing.