Gillian Wearing (b. 1963, Birmingham, UK) studied at the Chelsea School of Art and Goldsmiths’ College in London. She lives and works in London.
Over her three-decade career, Wearing has focused equally on her own self-portraiture and on the depictions of others, testing the boundaries between the private and public, questioning fixed notions of identity, and frequently anticipating the cultural transformations wrought by social media. Throughout her works, masks serve as both literal props and metaphors for the performances each of us stage every day as individuals and as citizens.
Wearing has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including Gillian Wearing: Wearing Masks, Guggenheim Museum, New York, (2021); Life: Gillian Wearing, Cincinnati Art Museum (2018); Gillian Wearing – Family Stories, National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen (2017–2018); Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask, National Portrait Gallery, London (2017); Gillian Wearing, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (2015–2016); Gillian Wearing, Whitechapel Gallery, London; traveled to K20, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, and Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2012–2013); A Real Birmingham Family, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2011); Confessions / Portraits, videos, Musée Rodin, Paris (2009); Gillian Wearing: Living Proof, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne (2006); Gillian Wearing: Mass Observation, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; traveled to Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania (2002–2003); and Gillian Wearing, Serpentine Gallery, London (2000); among others.
Wearing was awarded the Turner Prize in 1997, and elected a Royal Academician by the Royal Academy of Arts in 2007. She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2011, and received a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2019.
Monographs and publications on her work include Gillian Wearing: Wearing Masks (Guggenheim Museum, 2021); Gillian Wearing: Family Stories (Hatje Cantz, 2017); Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask (National Portrait Gallery and Princeton University Press, 2017); Gillian Wearing: Living Proof (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, 2006); Gillian Wearing: Mass Observation (Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Merrell Publishers Limited, 2002); Gillian Wearing: A Trilogy (Vancouver Art Gallery, 2002); Gillian Wearing: Sous Influence (Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2001); Gillian Wearing: Unspoken (Kunstverein Munich, 2001); Gillian Wearing (Serpentine Gallery, 2000); Gillian Wearing (Phaidon, 1999); and Gillian Wearing (Kunsthaus Zürich, 1997).
Works by Wearing are held in the permanent collections of art institutions worldwide including CAPC musée d’art contemporain, Bordeaux; Hamburger Kunsthalle; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; IVAM, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern; Kunsthaus Zürich; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; National Portrait Gallery, London; National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate Britain, London; and Vancouver Art Gallery; among many others.