Gregory Coates American, b. 1961


Gregory Coates’ work explores the possibility and nature of unorthodox materials. Beginning in the 1980s, Coates juxtaposed various mediums such as steel plates, cardboard, rubber hoses, duct tape, twine, and paint into amalgams of texture and color. Seducing these mediums through color and texture decision making, he later began focusing more on the formal materiality of his work. His 2019 exhibition “Actual and Implied,” at Monica King Contemporary, consisted of scrub brushes transformed into large-scale, mostly monochromatic works. His 2015 exhibition “Minutes” at the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art featured a of collection of large and midsize works using feathers.


Much of Coates’ work is about opposites---- refined/raw, slow/fast, sophisticated/street, traditional/non-traditional, all of which are indicative of his Washington, D.C. upbringing. In his youth, he embraced Washington, D.C.’s Go-Go”and “D.C. Hardcoremusic scenes. This explains his constant search and fluctuation between the wide margins of his artistic pursuit for balance, which, in recent years, has expanded into site-specific sculpture. His work “Fences” was installed at the top of a Swiss glacier in Verbier, Switzerland. Another work titled “Twenty” at Kamigamo Shrine, Kyoto Japan, made Coates the first American to install work at this UNESO world heritage site.


Coates studied at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. He has held numerous residencies that informed his work, such as Gasworks in London, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Triangle Workshops in Cape Town, South Africa, Pine Plains, New York, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation in New Orleans. He also spent several months in Berlin as an artist in residence at Tacheles and in his student years in Düsseldorf Germany. 


Coates’ artwork is included in museum collections such as the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, The Virginia Museum of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Paul Pozzoza Museum in Düsseldorf, Germany, the City of Obama in Japan, and many corporate and private collections.  A large commissioned piece is installed at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.  Coates is a Joan Mitchell Foundation and New York Foundation Fellow and was awarded the Pollock-Krasner- and Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation (Emergency) Grant.


Coates currently lives and works in Allentown, PA.