Brenna Youngblood (b. Riverside, CA; based in Los Angeles, CA) is often classified as an assemblage artist among the ranks of Noah Purifoy, George Herms, John Outterbridge and Betye Saar, though Youngblood’s practice defies one specific categorization. Her ability to strip the art-historical canon of assemblage of any ambiguity further bolsters her dedicated practice of collecting society’s discarded fragments to spin them into highly charged cultural critique.
Originally trained as a photographer, Brenna Youngblood borrows photomontage and collage techniques to build the surfaces of her paintings, to address the aesthetics and politics of abstraction. Additionally, Youngblood acknowledges the tradition of assemblage in her use of these objects “to make something new out of something old.” Later pieces show her version of abstraction with a slight nod to reality in painterly, gestural work, grounded by architectural and social cues and referred to her as “landscapes.” Her work at times deals with political subjects and social issues as she explores Black American identity and representation, referencing historical moments in Black history.
Youngblood received her BFA from California State University, Long Beach in 2002 and her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2006 where she studied with artists John Baldessari, Catherine Opie and James Welling. She has exhibited widely and her work has been included in museum exhibitions including Made in L.A., the Los Angeles Biennial organized by the Hammer Museum and LA><Art (date) and Fore at the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY (2012); the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2013 and 2016-2017); the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX (2014); Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, GA; Art + Practice, Los Angeles, CA (2016); Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO (2017). Solo institutional exhibitions include Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA (2020); Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA (2015); Pomona College Museum of Art, Pomona, CA (2015); the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO (2014) and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2006). In 2016, she was the recipient of the Seattle Art Museum’s Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence Prize.
Youngblood’s works are held in private and public collections, including the Fundación/Colección Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY.