If Gretchen Bender’s pioneering moving-image and photographic works had faded to some degree into obscurity, her art is now impossible to ignore. Last year, Bender’s art was surveyed at New York’s Red Bull Arts space in a solo show that became one of 2019’s most lauded; months later, a newly restored video installation from the 1980s figured prominently in the Museum of Modern Art’s rehang. Now, with Bender having a posthumous moment, her estate has picked up New York gallery representation.
Metro Pictures, the venerated New York space in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood, will now represent the Gretchen Bender estate. In a way, the representation is a homecoming of sorts for the estate—the gallery held one of Bender’s most important New York exhibitions, back in 1988.
Like Louise Lawler, Robert Longo, and Cindy Sherman, all of whom Metro Pictures represents, Bender is often considered a member of the Pictures Generation, a loose consortium of New York–based artists who, during late ’70s and early ’80s, began meditating on the ceaseless flow of photographic images in mass media. Bender’s concern was often how these pictures denigrated women and promoted violence. MoMA is currently showing her 1984 video installation Dumping Core, which appropriates logos from TV networks like CNN and MTV, as well as graphic imagery from films and television shows, and spreads her rhythmically edited clips across 13 screens.
Despite having directed music videos for famed bands like New Order and R.E.M., Bender, who died in 2004, has remained under-known. An appearance in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, via an installation that was remade by artist Philip Vanderhyden, helped spur a newfound interest in Bender’s work in the years following her death.
The Bender estate is the second addition that Metro Pictures has made since to its roster this year. Latifa Echakhch, who was chosen to represent Switzerland at the Venice Biennale in 2021, also recently joined the gallery’s slate.