Robert Edward Therrien was born on 17 November 1947, in Chicago, Illinois. At the age of five, he moved with his family to the San Francisco Bay Area and subsequently began his formal art education in Oakland at the California College of Arts. Therrien continued his studies at the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, enrolling in 1970, before earning a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. 


Emerging in the late 1970s onto a Los Angeles art scene that was grappling with the legacies of Pop, Minimal and Conceptual art, Therrien appropriated their formal strategies but intermingled them with a personal narrative at odds with the cold, detached aesthetic with which they had become associated. Around this time he began to exhibit in both Los Angeles and New York, where he was represented by Leo Castelli. In 1984, he was the subject of a major solo exhibition, his first, at the then-new Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. This was followed in 1991 by a major survey of his work at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid.


In the 1990s, Therrien’s practice shifted towards questions of scale and perspective, with his sculptures of everyday objects fabricated in monumental sizes verging on immersive installations. In 2000, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art held a major solo exhibition of Therrien’s work, and this has been followed by solo shows and displays at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2007), Kunstmuseum Basel (2008), Tate Modern (2009-2010, 2018), Parasol Unit (2016). Therrien died on 17 June 2019 in Los Angeles.


Therrien’s work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); The Broad, Los Angeles; Kunstmuseum Basel; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent; the Tate Collection, London.


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