Russell Young

British-American, b. 1959

Russell Young was born in Yorkshire on 13 March 1959, he went into foster care and at four months was adopted. During his bleak, harsh childhood the family migrated across northern England, compounding his sense of being an outsider in a dark world, and drawing him towards the idealised drama of the American Dream. Young loved football, with its chants and tough terrace culture, and a music scene that took in the Sex Pistols and Joy Division. He was talent-spotted in his teens by Jack Straw, director of Chester Art College, and in 1974 Young secured a place at the college to study drawing, graphic design, photography, and film. The youngest student there, he completed a four-year programme in just two years, followed by a course at Exeter College of Art and Design.

With an unstoppable urge to launch his career, Young moved to London three weeks before his graduate show. This tough time, living rough on the Embankment and in a series of squats, with casual work in record shops and a tailoring business, was formative, developing his ideas about social inequality, popular culture, the music industry, fashion, and materials. The opportunity arose to assist the photographer Christos Raftopoulos, who introduced Young to fresh concepts of intense detail and light. He embarked on projects of his own, taking photographs at the live club shows of Bauhaus, REM, and The Smiths, which led on to magazine commissions and sessions for record companies. In 1986, he shot the sleeve imagery for George Michael's album Faith, which was to sell over 25 million copies. After this Young was launched into the limelight and produced portraits of such musicians as Morrissey, Björk, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan and many sports and political celebrities. He diversified into music videos, directing 100 during the heyday of MTV. In 1992, he moved to Hollywood, where he met and married the actress Finola Hughes.

During the 1990s Young began looking beyond the limits of the photograph and started to paint seriously. In 1998 he relocated to New York, rented a studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and worked on a series of Combine Painting experiments, making assemblages of collage, found objects and street graffiti. His first solo exhibition, in Los Angeles in 2003, was an anti-celebrity series of Pig Portraits. Its uncomfortably large monochrome silkscreens, based on low-grade police booking photographs, record moments when the rich and famous fell foul of the law. However, in turning the tables on his former career they achieve a more penetrating beauty and iconic status. Established as a painter, Young, and his family moved back to the California coast, where he focused on 'action by reflection', developing ideas. The powerful, eclectic Fame+Shame series followed in 2005, documenting the fallout of cultural excess from the previous three decades - a gritty, Pop Art cocktail of America seen through the eyes of a marginalised immigrant from northern England.

Young began to use diamond dust in 2007, pressing crystals into paintings he called Dirty Pretty Things. He was drawn to the opulence of the light shimmering off the multi-faceted glass, the famous faces lost in abstract flickers of light only to re-emerge. His American Envy paintings (2009) revisit the country's counterculture but go deeper into a vortex of rebellion, hope, violence, and madness.

In 2010 Young was struck down by swine flu with severe complications. In a coma for eight days, he was not expected to survive. After a lengthy stay in hospital, he emerged from this near-death experience; during the process of recovery, he explored the effects of trauma on both the individual and the cultural psyche. 2011 saw a seminal shift in his work, embracing a more visceral artistic process Young produced the magnificent Helter Skelter series.

Young's artistic output embraces painting, screenprinting, sculpture, installations, and film. Most important to him are the titles, the crops, and the progression from darkness to light, reflecting his transition from painful early years in northern England to warmth, growth and fulfilled potential under the sunny skies of America. As his art evolves, the darks become darker, the lights bigger and brighter.

In January 2016 Young and Hughes received the Spirit of Elysium award from Dame Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler in recognition of their charitable enterprises using art as a catalyst for social change. Young's work is represented in the collections of the Polk Museum of Art in Florida, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, the Saatchi Collection, Barack Obama, the Qatari royal family, Liz Taylor, Kate Moss, David Bowie, and Brad Pitt. Young has exhibited in museums and galleries in London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Tokyo, Singapore, New York, Detroit, Miami, and Los Angeles.

Exhibitions of Young's major series include Pig Portraits (2003), Fame + Shame (2005), Horsepower (2007), Diamond Dust (2008), Dirty Pretty Things (2009), Diamonds are Forever (2010), American Envy (2011), Only Anarchists Are Pretty (2012), Dreamland (2013), The Fight of the Paso del Mar (2013), Helter Skelter (2014), Lost Angels (2014), his debut solo exhibition at Halcyon Gallery, London, Superstar (2016), American Landscapes (2016), Femme Fatale (2017) and NY Grenades (2018).

In late 2018, Superstar, a landmark retrospective of Young's work, opened at Modern Art Museum, Shanghai, allowing his audience to reflect on the development of a remarkable body of work spanning almost two decades of practice. Russell Young was the first American contemporary artists to ever be exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, with his work being met with critical acclaim by its Chinese audience as well as the rest of the world with over 15,000 visitors viewing the exhibition in the opening week. 

Due to demand, multiple events where organised by the Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai for Superstar. This included a private guided tour by the artist, a one-off silkscreen printing workshop, and private talks given to students of the prestigious Donghua and Tongji Universities where Young was able to meet and inspire a future generation of Chinese artists. 

Chester Art College
Exeter College of Art and Design

2020 FAME, Halcyon Gallery New Bond Street, London
2020 ICONS, 'Art at Harrods' by Halcyon Gallery, Harrods 3rd Floor, London
2018 Superstar Retrospective - Museum of Modern Art Shanghai
2018 Grenades, Art Angels, Los Angeles, California
2018 Dimond Dust, Art Angels, Los Angeles, California
2018 Lotusland, Lotusland Gardens, Montiecito, California
2018 Dimond Dust, Taglialatella Gallery, Paris
2018 Russell Young Pop Art, 212 Gallery, Aspen, Colorado
2018 Dimond Dust, Art Angels, Los Angeles, California
2018 NY Grenades, Taglialatella Gallery, New York
2017 Vertes Modern, Neo Pop, Zurich
2017 Dimond Dust, San Francisio Art Miami, ZK Gallery, San Francisco, California
2017 20th Century Icons, ZK Gallery, San Francisco, California
2017 Femme Fatale, Art Angels, Los Angeles, California
2017 Femme Fatale, Taglialatella Gallery, New York
2016 American Landscapes, Heather James Fine Art, Palm Desert, California
2016 Superstar, Halcyon Gallery, London
2015 Forever Young: A Retrospective, Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, Florida
2015 Wanted Dead or Alive, 212 Gallery, Aspen, Colorado
2015 Jackie O, Tagliatella Gallery, New York
2015 Rock n' Roll Works on Paper, Long-Sharp Gallery, Indianapolis, Indiana
2015 Young, Burkhard Eikelmann Galerie, Dusseldorf and Galerie Hafenrichter, Nurnberg
2014 SUPERSTAR, Long-Sharp Gallery, Indianapolis, Indiana
2014 Spring Show 2014, Mead Carney Fine Art, London
2014 Wild at Heart, Imitate Modern, London
2013 Dreamland, Bankrobber, London
2013 The Fight of the Paso Del Mar, Bankrobber, London
2013 Kate Moss, Collectors Contemporary, Singapore
2013 Suicide, Bankrobber, London; Galerie G. Hartinger Fine Arts, Vienna and Vertes Modern Art, Zurich
2012 Russell Young, Vertes Modern Art, Zurich
2012 Entertainment for Men, the Playboy Club, London
2012 Private Show, Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas, Texas
2012 A Working Class Hero is Something To Be, Long-Sharp Gallery, Indianapolis, Indiana
2012 A Retrospective, Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas, Texas
2012 Only Anarchists Are Pretty, Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas, Texas
2012 The Queen is Dead, Guy Hepner, Los Angeles, California
2012 The Last Picture Show, Galerie G. Hartinger Fine Arts, Vienna and Long-Sharp Gallery, Indianapolis, Indiana
2011 The Last Picture Show, Guy Hepner, Bal Harbour, Florida and Guy Hepner, Los Angeles, California
2011 American Envy III, Long-Sharp/Curis Modern + Contemporary
2011 American Envy I, Scream Gallery, London
2011 Diamond Dust, Galerie G. Hartinger Fine Arts, Vienna
2011 Icons, Galerie de Bellefeuille, Montreal
2010 Russell Young, Tagliatella Gallery, Paris
2010 Icons & Iconoclasts, Karl Hutter Fine Art, Beverly Hills, California
2010 Pig Portraits, Guy Hepner, Los Angeles, California
2010 Russell Young, Robinsons Art Gallery, Knokke-Zoute, Belgium
2010 Diamond Dust, Russeck Gallery, San Francisco, California
2010 New Paintings, Guy Hepner, Los Angeles, California
2010 Dirty Pretty Things, Collectors Contemporary, Singapore; Scream Gallery, London and Tagliatella Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida
2010 Selected Works, Karl Hutter Fine Art, Beverly Hills, California
2010 Fame+Shame, Aberson Exhibits, Tulsa, Oklahoma
2010 Russell Young, Doyle Devere, London
2009 Dirty Pretty Things, Guy Hepner, Los Angeles, California; Valentino, New York; Russeck Gallery, San Francisco, California and Nikolai Rukaj Gallery, Toronto
2009 The Last Picture Show, Sims Reed Gallery, London
2008 Russell Young, Karl Hutter Fine Art, Beverly Hills, California
2008 Rebel Rebel, Art of Elysium at Milk Gallery, New York
2008 Russell Young, Collectors Contemporary, Singapore
2008 Punk+Graffiti, Milk Gallery, New York
2007 Russell Young, Altermann Modern, San Francisco, California
2007 Horsepower, Milk Gallery, New York
2007 Works on Paper, Sims Reed Gallery, New York
2007 Storm, Vanina Holasek Gallery, New York
2007 Fame+Shame, Bankrobber, London
2007 Los Angeles, Galerie Adler, Paris
2006 White Rabbit, The Art of Elysium, Beverly Hills, California
2006 Russell Young, Sims Reed Gallery, London
2005 Fame+Shame, Vanina Holasek Gallery, New York and The Art of Elysium, Los Angeles, California
2003 Pig Portraits, SP Gallery, London and The Art Of Elysium at Don O'Melveney Gallery, Los Angeles, California

2016 Icons, Plataforma 91, São Paulo, Brazil
2016 Shift, Stretch, Expand: Everyday Transformations, Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara, California
2015 POP, Halcyon Gallery, London
2015 The British Are Coming, Long-Sharp Gallery, Indianapolis, Indiana
2015 Pelé: Art, Life, Football, Halcyon Gallery, London
2015 Heroes and Villains, Halcyon Gallery, London
2014 Lost Angels, Mead Carney Fine Art, London
2014 POP-FICTION, 212 Gallery, London
2014 Giant, Collectors Contemporary, Singapore
2014 The Shock of the New, Mead Carney Fine Art, Porto Montenegro
2014 Marilyn, Tagliatella Gallery, Paris
2014 Kunst, Vertes Modern, Zurich
2014 Grafix 14, Vertes Modern, Zurich
2013 Rethinking the American Dream, Long-Sharp Gallery, Indianapolis, Indiana
2013 Works on Paper, The Cat Street Gallery, Hong Kong
2013 David Bowie, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
2013 Icons and Irony, Long-Sharp Gallery, Indianapolis, Indiana
2013 Rock, Tagliatella Gallery, Paris
2013 The Art of Elysium, Los Angeles, California
2012 The Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Rocking the Art World: a Celebration of The Rolling Stones, The Broome Street Gallery, New York and Symbolic London, London
2012 The Image is One Thing, Collectors Contemporary, Singapore
2012 Summer Exhibition, Scream Gallery, London
2012 Marilyn: 50 Years, Guy Hepner, Los Angeles, California
2012 Marilyn, Tagliatella Gallery, Paris
2011 POP and Contemporary American Art, Tagliatella Gallery, Paris
2011 New York, Tagliatella Gallery, Paris
2011 Arts for a Better World, Tagliatella Gallery, Miami, Florida
2011 It's A Wonderful Life, Collectors Contemporary, Singapore
2011 Pop Pop, Collectors Contemporary, Singapore
2011 Scream Now, Scream Gallery, London
2011 Hueless, Mallick Williams Gallery, New York
2011 Works on Paper, Whisper Fine Art, London
2011 Heaven Gala, Art of Elysium, Los Angeles, California
2011 Printer Proofs, Bertrand Delacroix Gallery, New York
2010 Diamonds Are Forever, Scream Gallery, London
2010 The Art of Giving, The Saatchi Gallery, London
2009 Christmas Show, Scream Gallery, London
2009 Urban Legends, Collectors Contemporary, Singapore
2009 Pop, Liberty, The Sims Reed Gallery at Liberty of London, London
2009 Works on Paper, Sims Reed Gallery, New York
2008 Ink, Sims Reed Gallery, Miami, Florida
2008 ICONS, 108 Fine Art, Harrogate, United Kingdom
2007 Pop!, Collectors Contemporary, Singapore
2007 Giddy Up, Newzones Gallery, Calgary
2007 Eros, Galerie Adler, Paris
2007 Modern Master Prints, Sims Reed Gallery, London
2007 Works on Paper, Sims Reed Gallery, New York
2006 Aid for Aids, Windemere Gallery, Los Angeles, California
2006 Who's That Girl, Vanina Holasek Gallery, New York
2006 Boilermaker, Stellan Holm Gallery, New York
2006 Modern Master Prints, Sims Reed Gallery, London
2006 Beast and the Beauty, Vanina Holasek Gallery, New York
2005 Outlaws, Vanina Holasek Gallery, New York
2001 Art Heals, Twin Towers Orphan Fund, New Museum of Art and Technology, New York

2015 SCOPE, Miami, Florida
2015 Masterpiece, London
2015 Art Miami, New York
2015 Spring Masters, New York
2014 SCOPE, Miami, Florida
2014 CONTEXT Art Miami, Miami, Florida
2014 Art Southampton, New York
2014 Masterpiece, London
2014 Art Monaco, Monaco
2014 Art Wynwood, Miami, Florida
2013 Masterpiece, London
2013 Art Basel, Basel
2012 Art Basel, Miami, Florida
2012 Art KYIV Contemporary, Kiev
2012 The San Francisco Fine Art Fair, San Francisco, California
2011 SCOPE Miami, Miami, Florida
2011 Art Toronto, Toronto
2011 Moniker Art Fair, London
2011 LA Art Show, Los Angeles, California
2011 Art Stage, Singapore
2010 Art Basel, Miami, Florida
2010 Art Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
2009 Fountain Art Fair, Miami, Florida
2009 The London Original Print Fair, The Royal Academy of Arts, London
2009 Cologne Art Fair, Cologne
2008 SCOPE, Miami, Florida
2007 Art Basel, Miami, Florida
2007 SCOPE, Basel
2006 Art Basel, Miami, Florida

Liz Taylor, Los Angeles, California
Kate Moss, London
The Estate of Marilyn Monroe
David Bowie, New York
Albertina Museum, Vienna
The Saatchi Collection, London
The Benetton Foundation, Italy
The Polk Museum of Art, Florida
The Core Club, New York
President Barack Obama, White House, Washington DC
The Qatari Royal Family
Mohammed VI of Morocco

2016 The Spirit of Elysium, Los Angeles, California

2016 Superstar exhibition catalogue (Halcyon Gallery)
2015 Pelé: Art, Life, Football exhibition catalogue with essays: Brian Winter, 'Why Pelé Still Inspires Us'; Dr. Bernard Vere, 'Andy Warhol, Pelé, and the "Athletes" Series' (Halcyon Gallery)
2005 The Art of Elysium presents Russell Young: fame, shame, and the realm of possibility

Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
Atmospheric image Atmospheric image
Atmospheric image Atmospheric image