Jim Shaw: Thinking the Unthinkable

Thinking the Unthinkable documents Jim Shaw’s inaugural exhibition with Gagosian and features an essay by Jessica Beck, new fiction from Jonathan Lethem, and a conversation between the artist and Rachel Kushner.

For over three decades, Jim Shaw has found inspiration in comics, pulp novels, album covers, and amateur paintings. His densely layered and humorous works span painting, drawing, and sculpture, and juxtapose images of friends, family, and dreams, with world events, pop culture, and alternative realities.

Published to coincide with Thinking the Unthinkable (2023) in Beverly Hills, Shaw’s first exhibition with Gagosian, this expansive and vibrantly illustrated catalogue delves into the secret histories of psychedelic therapy, Hollywood legend, and nuclear war—themes that all coalesce in the artist’s recent works.

An essay by Gagosian director Jessica Beck discusses Shaw’s hallucinogenic depictions of Cary Grant, Esther Williams, and Jeff Chandler. A conversation with author Rachel Kushner ranges from the artist’s formative years to the early weaponization of LSD. In Jim Shaw Kills, new fiction written by Jonathan Lethem, a miniaturized version of Shaw is dispatched into the comatose body of an ex-president.

About The Author

Jim Shaw (b. 1952) lives and works in Los Angeles. He has had exhibitions at museums including CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux, France; MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA; and New Museum, New York. His work is held in the collections of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museo Jumex, Mexico City; and Centre Pompidou, Paris, amongst others.

Jessica Beck is a director at Gagosian. Formerly, she was the Milton Fine curator of art at the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, where she curated many projects, most notably Andy Warhol: My Perfect Body (2016).

Rachel Kushner is the author of Telex from Cuba (2008), The Flamethrowers (2013), and The Mars Room (2018). She won the Prix Médicis Etranger (2018), was a Guggenheim Fellow (2013), and the recipient of the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2016).

Jonathan Lethem is a novelist, essayist, and short story writer. He is the author of The Fortress of Solitude (2003), Chronic City (2009), The Feral Detective (2018), and The Arrest (2020).

  • Publish Date: March 12, 2024
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Art - Individual Artists - Monographs
  • Publisher: Gagosian / Rizzoli
  • Trim Size: 9-1/4 x 12-1/2
  • Pages: 120
  • US Price: $80.00
  • CDN Price: $110.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-7394-4