Keith Wilson is an artist, curator, educator, and cultural producer whose work spans sculpture, printmaking, participatory installation, and international exhibition making. Trained at Oxford and UCL, Wilson’s artwork combines the pragmatic with the playful, employing industrial design and creative placemaking to encourage novel interactions with historical spaces, social environments, and with familiar objects. Similarly, his curatorial and production practice have served to sculpt social spaces, connecting not only people but also materials and ideas across space and time. From 2017 to 2022, Wilson served as the director of the Center for the Humanities at the City University of New York Graduate Center, where he oversaw numerous cultural programs, including an international collaboration with Wellcome that resulted in artist residencies, screenings and events, as well as exhibitions on the themes of contagious disease and mental health that took place across the globe.
In the UK, Wilson’s projects have included landscape-scaled public works from Steles at London 2012 Olympics to more recently building a sculpture park at the Park Hill estate in Sheffield, as well as permanent outdoor sculpture commissions for clients ranging from Barratt Homes (2019) to Leeds University (2014). His curatorial ventures include Modern British Sculpture at the Royal Academy (2011), and The Object Sculpture at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds (2002). He produced Wellcome Collection’s first public gathering exhibition in a project entitled Things (2010), a project re-imagined for the exhibition Calendar at the MAC Belfast (2016), and forming the basis for his ongoing Object Library project. He retains an affiliation with Sheffield Hallam University as a research professor of Sculpture.
After leaving artschool in 1990 I was based in London for over 20 years, with studios in Hoxton, then Bermondsey and finally Haggerston, before five years in Sheffield with a studio at S1 Artspace. I moved to New York in 2016 and currently my studio is in Red Hook. Everything I do is through the studio. It allows me to think sculptural thoughts and make sculptural works. My studio is a sociable place for objects and people, where bodies and materials come and go like the tide, a space for thinking and entertaining all-comers.
Keith Wilson is a New York–based British sculptor. He has had solo exhibitions at the MAC Belfast, Camden Arts Centre and Milton Keynes Gallery. He was featured in British Art Show 7 and was co-curator (with Penelope Curtis) of Modern British Sculpture at the Royal Academy in 2011. He was a trustee of Whitechapel Art Gallery and Camden Arts Centre for many years and was involved in major building projects at both venues.
Interested in the cultural status of sculpture and the extent to which sculpture can play a part in social transformation, his outdoor works range from transforming the interior of the Park Hill estate in Sheffield (Europe’s largest listed structure) into a public sculpture park for Sculpture Park Hill, to Steles, 35 buoyant sculptures commissioned for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, which now serves as both event reminder and river infrastructure.
Wilson’s projects are an enquiry into the contingency of meaning, specifically in relation to the public function of sculpture. An exploration of the power relations inherent in everyday human interactions, his sculptures are often dramatized by passersby, who must navigate around his seemingly authoritative pieces of highly ordered sculptural material. By simultaneously channelling bodies and ordering abstract ideas, the works encourage interpretative resistance and imaginative reordering of the encounter according to the visitor’s own agency—their individual perversity of mind.