Pae White

American, b. 1963

Pae White was born in Pasadena, USA (1963) and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Her sculptures and installations are often site specific, utilizing the intent of the architecture and allowing it to set the tone of a spatial narrative.

We have been following the artistic endeavors of Pae White for years. We remember her installation in Venice (2009), her work in the Whitney Biennial (2010), and have consistently been following her exhibitions and cheering on her accolades as she is a constant source of inspiration to our practice.

Pae White, Smoke Knows, 2009. Cotton and polyester, 114” X 258”
Image courtesy of The Whitney. Acquired by SF MoMA in 2010.

Ignoring traditional boundaries between the applied and fine arts, Pae White encourages viewers to take a deeper look at familiar encounters and ordinary objects. In 2006, White began creating tapestries with photographic images of crumpled aluminum foil and plumes of smoke, staging what White describes as the cotton’s “dream of becoming something other than itself” by contrasting an image of something immaterial with the physicality of fabric. This vision of an ephemeral moment suspended in space—the slight and fleeting unfurling of smoke monumentalized in the heroic tradition of tapestries—transforms an everyday image into a seductive evocation of transience and longing. In 2010 this artist created a similar work, Still, Untitled, a nearly 40-foot long tapestry that was featured in the Whitney Biennial.

Pae White, Stage curtain, Oslo Opera Theater, 2008
Image courtesy of 1301PE

Pae White utilized a computer assisted loom to create a woven opera curtain of scanned images of aluminum foil for Oslo’s Opera House. “Metafoil takes advantage of the captive gaze of the audience, introducing a foil, a false reflection, an illusion of depth…everyday and iconic.” [Feel Guide, 2011]

Pae White at Galerie Perrotin via Daily Art Fair © Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli, Courtesy the artist and kaufmann repetto, milano

The core of Pae White’s practice is based in the desire to insert the domestic in the space of art, two worlds that in Pae’s practice overlap with playful and poetic vision. Her production of tapestries allude to this constant oscillation between art and design, function and form, revealing a painterly, trompe-d’oeil quality that often confuses the real nature of their medium. Here, opaque, flat surfaces become lustrous and layered images where mysterious, ephemeral spirals of smoke weave through space, much like the weave of the tapestry itself, and imprints of aluminum foil build up like sculptural layers. [Courtesy: Perrotin]



Pae White’s installation in the Arsenale at the Venice Biennale (2009) was a birdcage, flattened under its own weight. We encountered large chandeliers of birdseed amidst the sounds of bird calls.

Images courtesy of designboom

Le Stanze Del Vetro unveiled a new large-scale commission by Pae White in May 2017 on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Qwalala is the Pomo indigenous American word for the flow of the Gualala River in Norther California. The 3,000 bricks are clear and colored, handmade in Italy and stretch to nearly 250 feet long.

Images via Instagram, courtesy of 1301 P.E. and designboom

Pae White is known for her installations of ceramic sculptures with either gold or platinum centers that are fashioned into amorphic “popcorn” shapes. Her popcorn is made by two trusted ceramic artisans in Lithuania, a testament to her expertise in sourcing and managing skillful producers. {via Glenn Adamson}

Images courtesy of 1301 P.E. via MyModernNet and Instagram