Since the early 1990s, Diana Thater has created pioneering film, video, and installation-based works. Her primary emphasis is on the tension between the natural environment and mediated reality, and by extension, between tamed and wild, and science and magic. Drawing on a wide variety of sources, including literature, animal behavior, mathematics, chess, and sociology, her evocative and sometimes near-abstract works interact with their surroundings to create an intricate relationship between time-based and spatial dimensions. She frequently transforms the exhibition venue into a hybrid space between sculpture and architecture, using color and light alongside her installations.
Born in 1962 in San Francisco, Thater studied Art History at New York University, before receiving her M.F.A. from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.
Since 1993, the artist's work has been represented by David Zwirner. In 2015, Science, Fiction marked her eighth solo exhibition at the gallery in New York. Previous shows include Chernobyl (2012), Between Science and Magic (2010), Here is a text about the world… (2008), New Work (2005), the sky is unfolding under you (2001), China, Crayons & Molly Numbers 1 through 10 (1996), and Late & Soon (Occident Trotting) (1993).
Currently on view at the Borusan Contemporary in Istanbul is A Runaway World, a solo exhibition of Thater’s recent work (through February 18, 2018).
In 2015, a comprehensive mid-career survey of Thater's work, The Sympathetic Imagination, was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The show traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Over the past decade, her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions that include the The Mistake Room, Los Angeles (2017); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado; San Jose Museum of Art, California (both 2015); Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2011); Santa Monica Museum of Art, California (2010); Kunsthaus Graz, Austria; Natural History Museum, London (both 2009); Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany; Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Germany (both 2004); Dia Center for the Arts, New York (2001); and the Secession, Vienna (2000).
In 2014, Thater was awarded a California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists. Other notable awards and fellowships include a 2011 Award for Artistic Innovation from the Center for Cultural Innovation, Los Angeles, as well as a James D. Phelan Award in Film and Video (2006), a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2005), and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1993).
Work by the artist is represented in museum collections worldwide, including The Art Institute of Chicago; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin. Also a prolific writer, educator, and curator, Thater lives and works in Los Angeles.