Jack Early

Early was born in 1962 in Raleigh, North Carolina. His ascent to fame began in the late 1980s as one-half of the duo Pruitt-Early. Pruitt-Early’s irreverent work challenged prevailing orthodoxies and blurred the boundaries between low culture and high art.

Their first solo show, Artwork for Teenage Boys, was held in 1990 at 303 Gallery, New York. Pruitt-Early quickly garnered attention, and in 1992 they presented an exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery. Following the Castelli show, which was misunderstood and infamously panned, Early went into a self-imposed exile from the art world. In recent years, Pruitt-Early’s artworks have been reappraised and increasingly hailed by collectors, critics, and museums.

Early began writing songs, which have become integral to many of his new art objects. Since 2009, he has been making objects that explore the breadth of American pop culture. Glenn O’Brien describes Early as a “new sort of bluesman . . . making work that reflects the lonesome road he’s been on, a road that goes through Jesus, Jesus Christ Superstar, John and Yoko, protest movements, and the United Federation of Planets.”

Jack Early graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Recent exhibitions have included Pop Life: Art in a Material World, Tate Modern, London, 2009–10; Mapping the Studio: Artists from the François Pinault Collection, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 2009–11; Jack Early: WWJD, Southfirst, Brooklyn, 2012; Jack Early: Gallery Peace, McCaffrey Fine Art, New York, 2012; Jack Early, Fergus McCaffrey, New York, 2016; and A Better Yesterday, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2017. Opening in February of next year, Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, will include several Pruitt-Early artworks. Jack Early lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Selected Artworks

June 19, 2017

Why Old Women Have Replaced Young Men as the Art World’s Darlings

Artsy Editorial by Anna Louie Sussman

Seeing the retrospective in Paris convinced McCaffrey, the longtime collector and gallerist, that he needed to bring her (Carol Rama) work to the U.S. market. He mounted a show of nearly 50 works from between 1938 and 1945 in September 2016. “Unless you have recognition in the U.S., you don’t really have a market,” he says. “We showed Ramas this time last year in Basel and Americans had no awareness.” This year, his booth at Art Basel in Basel placed Rama alongside the Gutai artist Kazuo Shiraga, as both artists’ work addressed life under totalitarianism by seeking to liberate the body and its functions. Read More
June 16, 2017

Gutai’s spectacular rise—and potential fall

The Art Newspaper by Matthew Wilcox

Crucial in Gutai’s sudden boom, in McCaffrey’s view, was the fact that the group had essentially been ignored in the US since the 1950s. “Look at the market for Italian post-war work, or back to the late 1980s, when the German Neo-Expressionists started to make an impact in the US. There are these discrepancies in information and knowledge that pop up.” Read More