Roski Talks: Keith Mayerson


Virtual talk with USC Roski
Art Professor Keith Mayerson

Feb, 24, 2pm



Reservations required to receive the Zoom link here.
Call-in instructions will be distributed to guests the day prior to the event. 

Keith Mayerson (b. 1966, Cincinnati, OH) is inspired by symbols of American history and pop culture, and depicts familiar figures who have impacted the country’s consciousness, in addition to personal scenes and his abstract “iconscapes”. His work allegorizes themes of resilience, determination, and the “American dream.” Iconic images, heroes, places, and events are rendered luminous and transcendent through Mayerson’s micro-managed brushwork and coloring. His subjects are often selected for their backstories and cultural impact; in Mayerson’s paintings, they embody contemporary national feelings and sentiments. While his formal features hint at a French Impressionist influence, his images could be seen to recall the work of Symbolists, in their spiritual components, cultural commentary and review, in addition to being inspired by the more visionary aspects of American Modernists and the Old Masters. Mayerson’s paintings are informed by his immersion into his subjects. Like a method actor, he listens to albums, biographies, or other audio materials on the figures in question while painting them. The entrenched conceptual investment and consideration behind his practice imparts an earnest, emotive resonance. His exhibitions are often installations of images that create larger narratives. Each work is imbued with allegorical content that relates to the world, yet allows through its formal nuances for the transcendent and sublime. The works stand on their own for form and content, but like a prose poem of images on walls, experienced in context the images as a series, the viewer creates the ultimate meaning for the installations. Since the George W. Bush era, his long running non-linear narrative “My American Dream” has been presented in separate exhibitions as “chapters” and the ongoing series continues through today.


Keith Mayerson studied Semiotics and Studio Art at Brown University and received an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. Mayerson’s work was prominently featured in the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art with a solo show My American Dream, the 2014 Whitney Biennial, and the Whitney Museum’s inaugural downtown show, America is Hard to See. His graphic novel Horror Hospital Unplugged, a collaboration with the writer Dennis Cooper, is well known among graphic artists. A graphic novel biography of James Dean is forthcoming, to be published by Fantagraphics, and is editing a book on the outsider cartoonist Frank Johnson, also for Fantagraphics to be published soon.


His recent solo exhibitions include the Elaine de Kooning House Foundation, East Hampton (2019); Marlborough Gallery, New York (2019); and the Bridge, Bridgehampton (2019). He will be having solo exhibitions of painting and drawing at KARMA Gallery NYC, forthcoming this September, 2021. Keith Mayerson's work is featured in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Columbus Museum of Art, The Davis Museum of Art of Wellesley College, MA, American University Museum, Washington, D.C., the RISD Museum and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami.