Skip to content
James Little - Artists - Petzel Gallery

James Little (b. 1952, Memphis, TN)

Little holds a BFA from the Memphis Academy of Art and an MFA from Syracuse University. He is a 2009 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for Painting. In addition to being featured prominently in the 2022 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, NY, his work has been exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions around the world, including at MoMA P.S.1, New York, NY; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO; and the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC. His work has been included in The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver and traveling to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, with catalogue forthcoming. Recent solo exhibitions include Homecoming: Bittersweet, at Dixon Gallery & Gardens: Art Museum, Memphis, TN, with an accompanying catalogue, and an upcoming  exhibition at Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL, in November  2022. In 2022, Little will also participate in a historic collaboration for Duke Ellington's conceptual Sacred Concerts series at the Lincoln Center, New York, NY, with the New York Choral Society at the New School for Social Research and the Schomburg Center in New York, NY. His paintings are represented in the collections of numerous public and private collections, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; The Menil Collection in Houston; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Maatschappij Arti Et Amicitiae, Amsterdam, Holland; Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis; Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse; New Jersey State Museum, Trenton; Tennessee State Museum, Nashville; Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock; and Newark Museum, Newark.

James Little, Thespian Stories, 2022, Oil on linen, 39 x 46 inches

James Little, Thespian Stories, 2022, Oil on linen, 39 x 46 inches

My intention is to eliminate predictability and not be repetitive. Music can be repetitive, but there is always change, chords, syncopation, rhythm. I try to accomplish something similar in my art, something that is more than a pattern or a set of regulations. I prefer to not have music playing while I’m working because painting with liquified wax is nothing to play around with. I love looking at each finished painting with music so I can actually focus and listen.

James Little in Artforum

Career Highlights

James Little - Artists - Petzel Gallery

James Little at the Alternative Museum, New York, ca. 1984.

1952 Born in Memphis, Tennessee

1974 Graduates with a BFA in Fine Art from Memphis Academy of Art

1976 Earns his MFA at Syracuse University

1980 Little's work is included in the exhibition "Afro-American Abstraction" at MoMA PS1

1982 Alternative Museum in New York hosts James Little's first NY solo exhibition

1987 Exhibits new paintings with Liz Harris Gallery in Boston

1988 Begins working with June Kelly Gallery with two exhibitions

1990 Debuts tondo and oval paintings in New York

1992 Returns to Syracuse Univeristy with a selection of works over the past decade

James Little - Artists - Petzel Gallery

Installation view, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, 2007.

1998 Participates in traveling institutional group exhibition, including De Beyerd Center for Contemporary Art and the Frans Hals Museum

200New York group exhibitions at The Painting Center and Smack Mellon Studios

2002 Group exhibitions continue throughout the US at The Station in Houston

2004 Painting acquired by The Studio Museum in Harlem is exhibited in group exhibition

2005 Solo exhibition at G. R. N'Namdi Gallery accompanied my catalogue and essays

2007 Installs solo institutional exhibition at Station Museum of Contemporary Art

2009 Third solo exhibition at June Kelly Gallery

 

James Little - Artists - Petzel Gallery

Installation view, The Shape of Abstraction, Saint Louis Art Museum, 2019

2010 Traveling exhibition of American abstract paintings at the University of Maryland and University of Dlaware

2011 Fourth solo exhibition with June Kelly Gallery in New York

2012 Participates in survey of Southern Abstraction at the Mobile Museum of Art

2015 Institutional group exhibition at the Newark Museum

2016 Debut solo exhibition in Los Angeles with Louis Stern Fine Arts of "Dots and Slants" paintings

Included in show on painting in the 1970s at The Studio Museum in Harlem

2020 Painting from permanent collection of Saint Louis Art Museum included in The Shape of Abstraction

James Little - Artists - Petzel Gallery

Installation view, Whitney Biennial 2022, New York.

2021 Begins working with Kavi Gupta in Chicago

Participates in traveling museum exhibition "The Dirty South" at the Virginia Museum of Fine arts and Crystal Bridges, Arksansas

2022 Begins working with Petzel Gallery in New York

Included in The Whitney Biennial 2022

Group exhibition at the Albright-Knox

Solo exhibition at Kavi Gupta, Chicago

2023 Included in group exhibition "An Apartment of Ghosts" at Petzel, New York

Installation view, Whitney Biennial 2022, New York

Installation view, Whitney Biennial 2022, New York

Installation view, Whitney Biennial 2022, New York

Installation view, Whitney Biennial 2022, New York

Installation view, Whitney Biennial 2022, New York

Installation view, Whitney Biennial 2022, New York

Installation view, The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2021

Installation view, The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2021

Installation view, The Shape of Abstraction: Selections from the Ollie Collection, Saint Louis Art Museum, 2019-2020

Installation view, The Shape of Abstraction: Selections from the Ollie Collection, Saint Louis Art Museum, 2019-2020

Installation view, Circa 1970, The Studio Museum in Harlem, 2016

Installation view, Circa 1970, The Studio Museum in Harlem, 2016

Installation view, Aimé Mpane, James Little, & George Smith, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, 2007-2008

Installation view, Aimé Mpane, James Little, & George Smith, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, 2007-2008

Installation view, Aimé Mpane, James Little, & George Smith, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, 2007-2008

Installation view, Aimé Mpane, James Little, & George Smith, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, 2007-2008

Installation view, Seeds and Roots: Selections from the Permanent Collection, The Studio Museum in Harlem, 2004

Installation view, Seeds and Roots: Selections from the Permanent Collection, The Studio Museum in Harlem, 2004