Roxy Paine USA, b. 1966


Roxy Paine is a conceptual artist whose work expresses the collision of human industries and the natural world.


Paine’s studio practice has mobilized an incredibly diverse range of subjects and materials, including custom-designed machines that create paintings; pristine wood and metal replicas of trees, fungus, weeds, and tools; full-size wooden dioramas of human-built environments such as a fast food restaurant, a security checkpoint, and an electronic control room. The work conveys various conflicts, such as those between industry and nature, control and chaos, and form and theory. Consistent across all of work is an echo of human involvement despite the noticeable lack of human figures.


Among Paine’s most illustrious bodies of work is his series of monumental metal tree sculptures, one of which is permanently installed at the entrance of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. These visually stunning sculptures dominate their surroundings while also mirroring them. They transform the ordinary experience of encountering a tree into an absurd and utterly dehumanized event. As replications of nature they are both exquisite and horrifying.


Another of Paine’s most admired bodies of works is his series of machines that create paintings, contraptions that reflect on the value of mechanized production and critique the human impulse to impose order and control over creative and natural forces. These art-making machines—given such names as the Paint DipperPMU (Painting Manufacture Unit), and the Erosion Machine—juxtapose the constraints imposed by data and the randomness of nature and chance. The products these machines produce are questionable creations full of inefficiencies and idiosyncrasies.


Paine is a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow. His works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA), San Francisco, CA; Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX; St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO; Fundación NMAC, Cadiz, Spain; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, Tilburg, Netherlands; among many others.