I want there to be things in my work that people can access, but also hidden secrets.
—Jim Shaw



Jim Shaw was born in 1952 in Midland, Michigan, in the northeast of the United States. He lives and works in Los Angeles and Milford. From 1971 to 1974, Jim Shaw studied Fine Art at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. There he met Mike Kelley, with whom he became friends and collaborated regularly. In 1974, he co-founded the proto-punk band Destroy All Monsters with fellow artists and filmmakers Mike Kelley, Cary Loren and Niagra.

In 1978, he graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from CalArts (the California Institute of the Arts) and became part of the emerging Californian scene alongside artists such as Georganne Deen, Mike Kelley, John Miller, Tony Oursler, Raymond Petitbon, Mitchell Syrop, Megan Williams, and Robert Williams. Jim Shaw worked for many years in the film industry as a draughtsman and special effects artist in order to finance his artistic production, doing so until the latter became his main occupation in the mid-1980s. He mainly worked on horror, science fiction, and fantasy films such as Tree of Life (2011), The Abyss (1989), A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988), Hidden (1987), Earth Girls Are Easy (1988), The Forbidden Zone (1980) and Tron (1982), but also on numerous commercials.

In 2015, the New Museum, New York (USA) held a major retrospective of his work, entitled The End is Here. Other solo exhibitions have been held at the Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles (USA); the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams (USA); the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (UK); Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (Netherlands); CAPC, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux (France); at MoMA PS1, New York (USA); Magasin, Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble (France); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (UK); and at the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva (Switzerland). His work has been shown in group exhibitions at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (USA); the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA); the New Museum, New York (USA); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (USA); the Centre Pompidou, Paris (FR); and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (USA). He also took part in the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.


(c)Jim Shaw - photo: M HKA, 2024