Kevin Clarke




Kevin Clarke

Kevin Clarke was born in New York City in 1953. In 1976, he completed studies in sculpture at Cooper Union in New York with Hans Haacke and Christopher Wilmarth. He then spent four years in Switzerland and Germany working on conceptual photographic projects and exhibitions. During Documenta 6 he participated in the Free University directed by Joseph Beuys.

In 1980 he published the illustrated book “Kaufhauswelt” with Schirmer and Mosel, a sociological study in black-and-white photographs of the employees of the KadeWe in what was then West Berlin, for which he won the Kodak Book Award.
This was followed in 1984 by “The Red Couch. A Portrait of America,” published by Alfred van der Marck Editions/Harper & Row. With this project, in which Clarke portrayed well-known and unknown Americans on a red couch, he achieved worldwide fame. “The Red Couch” comprises around one hundred color photographs and presents a profile of the American population in all its heterogeneity. Each sitter had to sit on the same red couch, which Clarke transported across the continent for this purpose. The red couch as a recurring motif creates a comic, almost surrealistic effect reminiscent of Buster Keaton. The photo series was exhibited and published many times, and as a motif it was cited in advertising and the media.
At the end of the 1980s, Clarke came into contact with the company Applied Biosystems in California, which was currently working on the scientific development of the human genome analysis process. Clarke asked the geneticists to develop a non-comparative, individual-specific sequencing process. They decided to visualize the polymorphic HLA-DQA-1 alpha region and used Clarke’s blood for these experiments. Inspired by this, he realized a self-portrait in 1988 by fusing the graphic representation of his DNA sequence in the form of sequences of letters with a photograph to create a montage.
He dedicated the 1992 photo series “From the Blood of Poets” to American artist friends, such as John Cage, Jeff Koons and Richard Milazzo.

He got the idea while reading a book about Picasso’s life, which describes the habit of artists to meet together in the studio after completing a new work of art to describe the new work over a glass of wine.
Clarke’s portraits do not depict a photographic image of the sitter, but rather intuitively chosen motifs – landscapes and cityscapes, still lifes, and objects that Clarke associated with the “sitter.” Clarke combined these motifs with the graphic representation of the DNA sequence of the respective person, depicted in the form of sequences of letters or rhythmic curves. Clarke additionally alienated this photomontage by reproducing it using the color reversal process.
This was followed by the project “The Invisible Body,” exhibited at the Museum Wiesbaden, in which he created two series of thirteen portraits each of various people from New York and Wiesbaden.
Clarke’s last New York project focused on the attacks of September 11, 2001. “Mikey Flowers 9/11” is based on photographs of the operator of a flower store of the same name, who was one of the first to take pictures on site of the collapsing World Trade Center and nearly lost his own life in the process. Clarke links these shots to the DNA structures of survivors, creating an optimistic counter to that other application of DNA analysis used to identify the over three thousand victims of the barbaric act of terrorism.
Kevin Clarke’s work has been shown internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions. These include the Frankfurter Kunstverein in 1980, the Tampa Museum of Art, Florida in 1990, the Museum Wiesbaden in 1999, and the Chateau de la Treyne in France in 2013.


Born in New York

Degree Cooper Union School (BFA)

„Pyramiden“ – Zusammenarbeit mit Yoko Ono

Participant of the Free International University in Kassel (documenta 6)
Encounter with Joseph Beuys
Co-editor of “Art and Media

„Reise nach Mauritius“, Co-Operation with Jochen Gerz


„Die rote Couch, ein Porträt Amerikas“

„Ehrfürchtiges Staunen“

First self-portrait with DNA sequence

„Vom Blut der Poeten“

„Der unsichtbare Körper“




„Genetic Moments“ Galerie Rubrechtcontemporary, Wiesbaden

„Conceptual Portraits“ Galerie Barbara von Stechow, Frankfurt am Main

“Portraits, Kevin Clarke”. Chateau de la Treyne, France.

“The Portrait Studio” Galerie Michael Sturm, Stuttgart

“NewCircles” Galerie Rothamel, Frankfurt am Main

“Becoming Human”. Sara Tecchia Roma-New York. NYC. Gallery
“Dust To DNA.” Installation. Sara Tecchia Roma-New York. NYC

“Genetic Reveries” Janos Gat Gallery, New York. Catalog.
“Kevin Clarke- Portraits of the Future” Hecksher Museum of Art, NY.

“Dust to DNA, Kevin Clarke and Mikey Flowers 9/11” International Center of Photography, New York.
“Kevin Clarke” Galeria de Arte Pillar Parra, Madrid and Photo Espagne ‘02
“Kevin Clarke” B-W Bank, Stuttgart, Germany
“Kevin Clarke” art Frankfurt. Galerie Michael Sturm
“Frankfurt Meets New York” Mayor’s Honor at Beethoven Hall, NY

“Fantasia in the Key of Berger, Opus ATCG” Tribes Gallery, New York
Atrium project: 6 Portraits. B-W Bank Stuttgart, Permanent installation.

“Kevin Clarke”, Galerie Michael Sturm, Stuttgart


“The Invisible Body,” Museum Wiesbaden, Germany.

“Drawing (blood)” Karlstrasse Studio, Wiesbaden, Germany

“Vernal Passage,” Grand Salon, New York.

“From the Blood of Poets,” Curt Marcus Gallery, New York

“The Red Couch,” Tampa Museum of Art, Florida


“The Apotheosis of the Couch,” Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York

“The Red Couch,” Fotoforum in Leinwandhaus, Frankfurt Germany

“The Red Couch” Represented U.S. photography at the Ampitheater, Summer Rencontres, Arles, France
“The Red Couch,” Galleria Il Diaframma, Milan, Italy
“The Red Couch,” Galerie Lanterna Majika, Stockholm, Sweden

“The Red Couch,” International Center of Photography, Bookstore
“The Red Couch,” Harris Gallery, Houston, Texas

“The Red Couch,” The Photographer’s Gallery, London
“The Red Couch,” Galerie RZA, Dusseldorf, Germany

“Kaufhauswelt,” Frankfurter Kunstverein in “Steinernes Haus” Germany


“Love and Life. Portraits of Women from the Klöcker Collection”. Lehmbruck Museum Duisburg, Germany.
“KONZEPT. 20 Years Collection DZ Bank Frankfurt.” Art Foyer Gallery. Frankfurt.

Biennial Beijing: Super-Organism. Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing, China.
“FAME” DZ Bank Art Foyer Gallery. Frankfurt.

“EXPosition of Mythology. Electronic technology” Nam June Paik Art Center, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

“REAL” Photographic Works from the Collection of the DZ Bank. Stadel Museum Frankfurt
“Twisted Into Recognition: Clichés of Jews and Others”. Spertus Museum, Chicago
“typisch! Klischees von Juden und Anderen” Jewish Museum Berlin. Catalog.

“Portrait. The View Behind” Galerie Robert Drees, Hannover

“Happy Birthday Nam June Paik” Nassauische Kunstverein, Wiesbaden, Germany

“Touché” Galerie Michael Sturm, Stuttgart

“A Promise of Photography” Moscow House of Photography, Russia.
“Franz von Lenbach and the Art of Today” Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen
“Art is not Untouchable” Pablo’s Birthday, N.Y.
“Relating to Photography. Highlights from private Collections” Fotografie Forum International, Frankfurt.

“How Human? Life in the Post-Genome Era” ICP, New York,
“From Code to Commodity”, NY Academy of Science,
“Face To Face, Masterworks From The Collection of the DZ Bank.” Galerie der Stadt Stuttgart. Germany.
Fotosommer Stuttgart, Galerie Sturm .
“Four Plus: Writing DNA “ Wellcome Trust, London
“Paradise Now” Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
“Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution” Tulane U., New Orleans, LA

“American Photography” Museum for Concrete Art, Ingolstadt, Germany
Berlin Art, Art fair, Arco Madrid. Art fair, Art Frankfurt. Art fair
“Paradise Now” Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
“Return of Beauty” Kristen Fredrickson Contemporary Art, New York

“Blood: Power, Politics, and Pathology” Schirn Kunsthalle and Museum for Applied
Art, Frankfurt.
“Under the Skin- Biological Transformations in Contemporary Art” Stiftung Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg
“Genomic Art: Portrait of the 21st Century” UC Santa Cruz
“Paradise Now” Tang Art Museum, Saratoga, N.Y.
“The Promise of Photography” Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany

“Paradise Now” Exit Art, N.Y. Catalog.
“Do We Know Each Other?” Kunsthalle Nuremberg, Germany
“Bridget Reiley and Kevin Clarke” Brussels Art Fair, Galerie Sturm

“Gene Worlds,” Portrait of John Cage, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, Germany. Catalog.
“Power by Consent,” artcenter of South Florida, Miami Beach, Fl.

“Multiple Identities,” Nexus Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta
“Willem de Kooning, The Late Paintings, The 1980’s” Museum of Modern Art, NY

“Body of Work,” Genaro Ambrosino Gallery, Florida
“The Portrait Now,” Elga Wimmer Gallery , Madrid Art Fair, Spain

“Group Exhibition,” Curt Marcus Gallery, New York
“The Portrait Now,” Elga Wimmer Gallery, New York

“Gene Culture,” Fordham College at Lincoln Center, New York

“Out Into Space.” Condeso/Lawler Gallery, NY

“New Color Photography” Brooklyn Museum, New York
“Private Treasures,” San Antonio Art Museum, Texas

“Kaufhauswelt,” Diverse Works, Houston, Texas
““Willem de Kooning, Retrospektiv” Akademie der Kunst, Berlin.

“POOL” Artist’s Space, New York Catalog.

“Journey to Mauritius,” collaboration with Jochen Gerz

“documenta 6,” 100 days Freie Universitaet, Joseph Beuys

“Pyramids”, Collaboration with Yoko Ono, New York & Yucatan, Mexico
“Das Kollektiv” Exhibition and Happenings, Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, Permanent Archive, Washington, DC
Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York
International Center of Photography, New York
The Wellcome Trust, London
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
Tampa Museum of Art, Florida
San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas
Museum Wiesbaden
Cold Spring Harbor Lab, New York
Vitra Museum, Weil am Rhein
Pitney Bowes Collection, New York
Georg von Holtzbrinck Verlag, Stuttgart
Coca Cola Collection, Atlanta, Georgia
B-W Bank, Stuttgart
DZ Bank, Frankfurt
Howard and Janet Stein, JGS Foundation, New York and Santa Barbara
A & B Moeckel, Frankfurt

William N. Copley Estate Connecticut
Estate of John Cage, New York
Lothar Schirmer, München
Hartmut and Heike Schwesinger, Bad Homburg
H.+ I. Bergmann, Bad Homburg
Gegia Adinolfi, Rom, Italien
F. + E. Heintzeler, Stuttgart
H.+ K. Dauster, Stuttgart
Dr. M. Thriemer, Stuttgart
Ann & Jim Harithas, New York, Houston
Ute & Michael Berger, Wiesbaden
Lahl Collection, Wiesbaden
Detmar Westoff, Dusseldorf
Martin Kunz, Schweiz
James D. Watson, Cold Spring Harbor, New York
James Bernstein, Maryland
Dr. Thomas Duhnkrack, Frankfurt am Main
Maria Lucia and Ingo Klöcker, Bad Homburg