Richard Jackson, Little Girl’s Room, 2011. Fiberglass, steel, stainless steel, mdf, acrylic on canvas, wood, rubber, motor, acrylic paint, 190 x 288 x 312 inches. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Installation view, David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles CA, 2011 Photo: Fredrik Nilsen © Richard Jackson

(Sacramento, CA - UPDATED April 26, 2019) The Crocker Art Museum is pleased to announce the April 28 opening of the exhibition “Big Ideas: Richard Jackson’s Alleged Paintings”, a show of fourteen works by the artist, who is known internationally for upending contemporary art traditions with his unconventional approach, trademark humor, and sharp wit.

Influenced by Abstract Expressionism and action painting, Jackson is recognized for his unusual methods. He often paints by activating his own meticulously-engineered, sculptural machines, which spurt, splatter, and spray liquid pigments on gallery walls, pedestals, and floors.

In what he describes as alleged paintings, Jackson draws inspiration from domestic environments, universal human functions and activities, and what he sees as hallmarks of American life such as hunting, sports, and consumerism. The exhibition primarily consists of works created during the past two decades.

Portrait of Richard Jackson, 2017. Image courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Born and raised in Sacramento in 1939, Jackson was fascinated with building and engineering concepts and activities in his youth. He studied art and engineering at Sacramento State College from 1959–1961 and held his first solo exhibition at the Crocker Art Museum in 1961. Jackson moved to Los Angeles in 1968, and taught sculpture at UCLA from 1989–1994. His work has been shown at museums and venues around the world.

In some of his earlier works, Jackson used stretched canvases as tools, loading their surfaces with paint and smearing the canvas faces against the wall to create colorful arcs. He also stacked the canvases like blocks, using paint as mortar to create an enormous wall. Examples of these “historic” pieces are included in the exhibition, but the artist has moved on. For him, the fun of his work is in trying new things.

"Pump Pee Doo" is one of several large installations in the exhibition in which the artist applies liquid pigment that is meant to suggest bodily fluids. Its title is a pun intended to sound like the name of the French institution in which the work was first shown: Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Added to this witticism, several bears are standing at urinals and some have urinals for heads, as both share a similar profile. This reference to Dada artist Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 "Fountain" (a urinal turned into a readymade artwork) illustrates Jackson’s appreciation for the debate Duchamp triggered regarding what constitutes art.

Photo: Crocker Art Museum
Installation view
Richard Jackson, Pump Pee Doo, 2004–2005. Fiberglass, pumps, buckets, acrylic paint, MDO, 132 x 240 x 240 inches. Courtesy Rennie Collection, Vancouver. © Richard Jackson
Background (right):
Richard Jackson, Big Girl (Yellow), 2008. Aluminum, color, 135 7/8 x 47 1/4 x 53 1/8 inches. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth © Richard Jackson

In another installation, Museum visitors can peer into "Little Girl's Room" to see a red-headed girl smiling as she clutches an upturned pink unicorn atop a spinning platform. Surrounding the centerpiece is a colorful room outfitted with a hobby horse, a baby doll with bottles filled with various colors of paint, and an enormous jack-in-the-box with an emoji-like head. The unicorn has marked its territory and sprayed the room with primary colors. Jackson’s recurring use of these colors is not arbitrary, but rather a reference to celebrated works from the past such as Piet Mondrian's "Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow" and Barnett Newman’s iconic series “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue.” Jackson's alleged painting is enormous, taking up more room than most residential spaces.

Jackson’s appreciation for some of the legends of art history extends to Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock, whose drip paintings continue to inspire countless artists. “He’s one of my heroes," said Jackson. "That’s how I got interested in art … because of this film of Jackson Pollock making a painting outside, and I just decided, WOW this is really great. … He put these old shoes on and just started making a painting. I was intrigued by the activity. … I liked the physical part of the whole thing.”

Richard Jackson, Untitled (Wall Painting for Crocker Art Museum), 2019. Acrylic paint, wood, canvases. Variable dimensions. © Richard Jackson Photo: Crocker Art Museum

In addition to paintings and sculptural works in various media, the exhibition includes a video of the creation of a 2012 painting where Jackson flew a radio-controlled, paint-filled model plane into a wall. The exhibition is organized by the Crocker Art Museum in collaboration with Hauser & Wirth. It is curated by the Crocker's associate curator Kristina Perea Gilmore.

Richard Jackson will give a talk at the Crocker Art Museum on May 5. More information on this special event is available here:

High-resolution images, video of the exhibition installation, and an exhibition checklist are available to members of the media upon request.

Karen Christian
Media Relations & Communications Associate
Crocker Art Museum
(916) 808-1867


  • Members-only Tour (5/5/19)
  • Artist Talk featuring Richard Jackson (5/5/19)
  • ArtMix Makeshift (5/9)
  • Art of Parenting: Allegedly Inappropriate Behavior (5/19)
  • Hatch: Danceworks in Progress (5/30)
  • Look & Learn (6/4 & 6/27)
  • Classical Concert (8/11)
  • Capital Storytelling (8/15)
  • Baby Loves Art! Colors Edition (8/17)

For more detailed information visit

Through engaging, innovative, and life-changing interactions with art, the Crocker Art Museum provides meaningful opportunities for people of divergent backgrounds to find common ground. Founded as a public/private partnership in 1885, the Crocker features the world’s foremost display of California art and is renowned for its holdings of master drawings and international ceramics, as well as European, Asian, African, and Oceanic art. The Crocker serves as the primary regional resource for the study and appreciation of fine art and offers a diverse spectrum of exhibitions, events, and programs to deepen visitor’s understanding of art, including films, concerts, studio classes, lectures, and an array of activities for families and children. More information about exhibits and programs can be found at