Since the early 1990s, Los Angeles–based artist Diana Thater has created pioneering films, videos, and installations, the primary theme of which is the tension between the natural environment and mediated reality, and by extension, between the tamed and the wild. Drawing on a wide variety of sources, including literature, animal behavior, mathematics, chess, and sociology, her evocative and sometimes nearly abstract works interact with their surroundings to produce an intricate relationship between time and space.
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).
In 2018, a solo presentation of the artist’s work was presented at the new ICA Watershed, Boston. In 2017, the solo show A Runaway World was first exhibited at The Mistake Room, Los Angeles and later traveled to Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul and the Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain. 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 Chicago.
Over the past decade, her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions that include the Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2015); San Jose Museum of Art, California (2015); Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2011); Santa Monica Museum of Art, California (2010); Kunsthaus Graz, Austria (2009); Natural History Museum, London (2009); Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany (2004); Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Germany (2004); Dia Center for the Arts, New York (2001); and the Secession, Vienna (2000).
In 2018, the artist was awarded an Art + Technology Lab Grant from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Other notable awards and fellowships include a California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2014), as well as an Award for Artistic Innovation from the Center for Cultural Innovation, Los Angeles (2011), 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; Friedrich Christian Flick Collection at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Also a prolific writer, educator, and curator, Thater lives and works in Los Angeles.