McArthur Binion American, b. 1964


McArthur Binion is an American painter who has developed a unique style of action painting which places personal memory in dialogue with visual elements of Modernism. For content, Binion sources narratives of his African American experience in rural America and his presence in the white dominated heyday of American Modernism in New York City. 


Wax crayon is Binion’s primary medium. His method involves intentional physicality: crayon is first ground up and then rubbed into wood and aluminum panels, a process that produces abstract, mono or duo-chromatic color fields. In other projects, Binion juxtaposes these abstract surfaces with repetitive Xerox imagery taken from his personal life, which is then coated in multiple layers of ink.


The images Binion utilizes in his works include photographs of him as a child and his mother in a crop field set alongside documents such as his birth certificate and pages from his address book—a record jotted with names such as Jean-Michael Basquiat andMary Boone, documenting his time in New York City’s 1970s art scene. Binion’s historical contributions to Abstract Expressionist and Post-Minimalist movements position him as an influential figure within contemporary African-American art discourses. During the inaugural year of the infamous Artists Space, Bionion’s work was curated into an exhibition by Carl Andre, Sol Lewitt and Ronald Bladen. Additionally, Binion was curated by, and collaborated with, artist David Hammons repeatedly during the 1970s.


Major recent solo exhibitions include Seasons at Kavi Gupta Chicago | Washington Blvd. (2016); Re: Mine, Galerie Lelong, New York (2015); DNA Study at Kavi Gupta CHICAGO | Elizabeth (2014); Ghost: Rhythms at Kavi Gupta CHICAGO |Washington Blvd. (2013); and Perspectives 177: McArthur Binion, Contemporary Art Museum, Houston (2012). Recent group shows include Invitational Exhibition of VisualArts, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York (2016); Piece by Piece: Building a Collection at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City (2015); Prospect.3: Notes for Now in New Orleans; Another Look at Detroit: Parts 1 & 2 at the Marlborough Chelsea and Marianne Boesky Galleries, New York; Ice Fishing at the Max Wigram Gallery, London; Above and Below the Surface: Eight Artists at the Berggruen Gallery, SanFrancisco; When the Stars Begin to Fall: Imagination in the American South at the Studio Museum, New York; Black and the Abstract, Part 2: Soft Curves/Hard Edges at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; and Outside the Lines at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (2014). His work is in the collections of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, NY, the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY, the Cranbrook Museum of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI, the Detroit Institute of Art in Detroit, MI, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Binion’s work has been reviewed in such periodicals as Artforum International, Art in America, and the Huffington Post. He received his Bachelors of Art from Wayne State University, and later became the first African American to graduate from the Cranbrook Academy of Art with a Master of Fine Arts. Binion lives and works in Chicago.