Chloe Piene

Expand Expand
Courtesy of Highpoint Center for Printmaking. © Highpoint Center for Printmaking
Born 1972, Stamford, Connecticut

Speaking at Vienna’s Albertina museum when her work was on view in “Drawing Now: 2015,” Chloe Piene specified that she has never painted. She draws. “As a toddler I was always drawing, always drawing figures,” she says.1 Now those figures are often charcoal on vellum, unclothed, and shift between skin and skeleton. Peter Schjeldahl, art critic at the New Yorker, compared her “snarling line” to that of Egon Schiele.2 “All the best pieces that I make, they really just come out by themselves,” Piene has said. “It is as if I get consumed by the action of doing it.”3 There is a sense with Piene’s marks, writes critic Joshua Mack, “that the process is extending beyond the drawing, that the creature is about to vanish or appear fully, leaving an uneasy kind of feeling that there is something more; something that you can almost, but not quite, grasp.”4 Piene’s characteristically frenetic line is on display in the lithographic drawings and print she made at Highpoint (2010).

Expand Expand
Courtesy of Highpoint Center for Printmaking. © Highpoint Center for Printmaking

She invests herself deeply in her videos and performances. To better understand darkness for her video Black Mouth (2003), she spent a few months in a cabin with no amenities except a generator. For 11 Octogenarians (2012), she had men in their eighties read aloud from her personal journal. Familienaustellung (Family Constellation, 2016) consisted of a dialogue among her living and dead relatives. She prefaced the performance by stating, “I have always felt that my friends are my real family, whereas my blood family are distant, shadowy specters unable to reach or see me.”

Piene received a BA in art history, concentrating in the Northern Renaissance, from Columbia University in New York (1993), and an MFA from Goldsmiths, University of London (1997). In addition to the “Drawing Now: 2015” show, she has participated in “Crossing Borders: Collecting for the Future” (2020–21), Residenzschloss, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden; “Egon Schiele: The Jubilee Show—Reloaded” (2018), Leopold Museum, Vienna; “Chloe Piene” (2017), Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin; “Drawing: The Bottom Line” (2015), SMAK (Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst), Ghent, Belgium; “Compass in Hand” (2010), Museum of Modern Art, New York; “Chloe Piene/Jeppe Hein” (2007–8), Carré d’Art Musée d’Art Contemporain, Nîmes, France; and Whitney Biennial (2004), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. Her work appears in the publications A Passion for Drawing: The Guerlain Collection from the Centre Pompidou (Prestel, 2019); Drawing People: The Human Figure in Contemporary Art (Thames and Hudson, 2015); Contemporary Drawing: From the 1960s to Now (Tate Publishing London, 2014); and Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing (Phaidon Press, 2005). Piene is based in New York and The Hague.

—Marla J. Kinney


  1. “Why Drawing Now – At the Albertina Museum: Chloe Piene,” Albertina Museum, Vienna, video, 15:02, November 15, 2015, produced by KA21/Cast Your Art, ↩︎

  2. Peter Schjeldahl, “What’s New,” New Yorker, March 22, 2004. ↩︎

  3. “Why Drawing Now,” Albertina Museum. ↩︎

  4. Joshua Mack, “Chloe Piene,” Modern Painters, November 2005, p. 63. ↩︎