Deb Sokolow’s partially fictional, text-driven drawings and collages come from serious research and comical speculation into the details of shadowy histories, organizational brainwashing, the foibles of heads of state and the trope of the male genius. Recent topics include Frank Lloyd Wright’s troubles with secretaries, an alternate career trajectory for would-be master illusionist David Copperfield, Kenneth Noland’s uninhabited orgasms inside a Reichian Therapy box, and the CIA’s failed assassination attempts on Castro. John Yau on Hyperallergic reviewed her 2016 solo show at Western Exhibitions; an excerpt:
Sokolow’s interest in the well-known illusionist David Copperfield, who once made the Statue of Liberty briefly disappear, an act which purportedly interested Putin, reminds us that everything we see, especially in politics, may in fact be an illu sion, a form of deception, a cover-up – all of which appeals to anyone who has ever entertained a conspiracy theory. For all the deadpan humor running through Sokolow’s work, along with a sharply attuned fascination with human foibles, one also senses her utter amazement: can people really be serious about these things? Are they really that important? If you find the answers disturbing, you are not alone.
Deb Sokolow is an artist and writer. Her work has been included in the 4th Athens Biennale in Greece and in other group exhibitions at the Drawing Center in New York, Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen in Germany, Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. Solo exhibitions include the Abrons Art Center in New York, Museum of Contemporary Art and Western Exhibitions in Chicago, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Institute of Visual Arts in Milwaukee and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, in which Sokolow’s 2013 MATRIX exhibition, “Some Concerns About the Candidate,” was reviewed in the New York Times. Her work has been reproduced for Creative Time’s Comics project, for Swedish art magazine, Paletten, and in Vitamin D2, a survey on contemporary drawing. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction and the Thomas J Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. Sokolow is a recipient of an Artadia award and residencies at Art Omi and Nordic Artists’ Centre in Norway. She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004. She is represented by Western Exhibitions and lives and works in Chicago.