Nonas’ six decades-long career developed a body of sculpture that engaged with the perception of space, place, and time.
Born in New York in 1936, he studied literature and then social anthropology at the University of Michigan, Lafayette College, Columbia University and the University of North Carolina. Following his education, Nonas worked as an anthropologist for 10 years, doing field-work on American Indians in Northern Ontario, Canada, and in Northern Mexico and Southern Arizona. He turned to sculpture in the mid-1960s at age 30. His anthropological work left a deep imprint that affected his sculptural practice.
In the 1970s, Nonas and a group of intrepid artists began creating and showing works in alternative spaces, including the Clocktower and 112 Greene Street. Nonas was at the heart of this pivotal rethinking of how art could be shown and experienced.
In recent years, Nonas has exhibited worldwide with Fergus McCaffrey, New York, Tokyo, St. Barth; Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna; OV Project, Brussels; Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris; P420 Galleria d’Arte, Bologna, Italy; Hill Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan; Galerie Pietro Spartà, Chagny, Bourgogne, France; and Galerie Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf, Germany.
"Sculpture—the object I make—is the way I define my own existent reality, the reality I try to communicate to you. It is how I grasp the contradictions of my world, find its submerged edges and discover the forces that hold it together at the same moment that they rip it apart. Sculpture is how I attempt to open the world for us both to see.”
—Richard Nonas, 1992