James Nares (artist)

James Nares (born 1953 in London, England) is a British artist living and working in New York City since 1974. Nares makes paintings and films (most notable being the No Wave Cinema Rome 78) and played guitar in the no wave group James Chance and the Contortions and with Jim Jarmusch in the Del-Byzanteens and was a founding member of Colab.

Art education

Nares attended the Chelsea Art School in London from 1972 to 1973. He later studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York from 1974 to 1976.


Nares is best known as a contemporary art painter. His method involves repeated strokes that eventually create a precise representation.

He is known for employing single but intricate gestural brush strokes in most of his works. Grace Glueck, New York Times art critic, described the effect of Nares's paintings as a combination of Japanese calligraphy and the 1960s cartoon works of Roy Lichtenstein.

Nares's paintings have been featured in films and videos focusing on a wide variety of artistic concepts such as, movement, artistic repetition, and rhythm. His work is exhibited in various museums in the United States, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Some of his solo exhibitions include 1976: Films and Other Works at Paul Kasmin Gallery, in New York in 2012, and Mixed Use, Manhattan: Photography and Related Practices 1970s to the present in 2010 at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain.

Nares's other solo exhibitions include New Paintings in 2004 at the Hamiltons Gallery in London, UK, and the New Paintings and Chronophotographs exhibition in 2005 at the Goss Gallery in Dallas, TX. His works were also featured in the Painting and Sculpture exhibition at the Lehman Maupin Gallery in New York City, in 2010. Rizzoli, an American publication, published a monograph dedicated to Nares's works in 2013 that focuses on his contributions to the world of art in the past four decades.

When speaking on his work, Nares once stated:

I try to embody the nature and combine the forms—it's like one and one making three—to expose a metaphor of some kind. It's searching for metaphors, for likeness, like a breeding ground. It seems to me, that's how a language develops. Everything breeds through metaphors.[1]


Nares was accorded artistic recognition by the Anthology Film Archives in 2008 for his film work. He made a series of short sculptural-related minimal art films. In 1978 he released a no wave 82-minute color Super-8 film entitled Rome 78, his only venture into feature-length, plot-driven film. The narrative is about the Roman emperor Caligula now set in a shabby 1978 downtown Manhattan apartment. As such, it proposes an analogy between ancient Rome and modern America as cultural empires.[2] Despite its large cast in period costumes, the work is never made out to be a serious undertaking, with actors who interject scenes with self-conscious laughter, and deliver seemingly improvised lines with over the top bravado. The work features No Wave Cinema regular Lydia Lunch of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks along with artist David McDermott of McDermott & McGough as Caligula, James Chance, John Lurie, Eric Mitchell as a Roman general, Judy Rifka, Jim Sutcliffe, Lance Loud, Mitch Corber, Patti Astor, Anya Phillips as the Queen of Sheba and Kristian Hoffman, among others.[3]


Nares' video "Street" (with a score composed by Thurston Moore), acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is the centerpiece for an exhibition he curated for the museum from their collection on the so-named theme.[4] This exhibition ran from 5 March until 27 May 2013.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

  • 2013: Street, Reinberger Galleries, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • 2013: Road Paint, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2013: Street, Cinemarfa Film Festival, Marfa, TX
  • 2013: Street, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
  • 2012: New Media Series – James Nares: Street, St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MI
  • 2012: Street, The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT
  • 2012: James Nares, 1976: Films and Other Works, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2011: Cinemarfa Film festival, Marfa, TX
  • 2011: The Films of James Nares, IFC Center, New York, NY
  • 2010: New Paintings and a Film, Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2010: James Nares at the Armory Show, Paintings and Video, The Armory Show, Paul Kasmin Gallery, Pier 94, New York, NY
  • 2009: James Nares, New Paintings, New Video: Element Number One, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2009: James Nares, Galleria Arnes Y Roepke, Madrid, ES
  • 2008: Galerie Stefan Roepke, Cologne, DE
  • 2008: Sebastian Guinness Gallery, Dublin, IE
  • 2008: James Nares: Motion Pictures (film retrospective), Anthology Film Archives, New York, NY
  • 2007: Galerie Stefan Roepke, Cologne, DE
  • 2007: Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2005: New Paintings and Chronophotographs, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2005: Goss Gallery, Dallas, TX


  • 2011: STREET (61 min, HD video)
  • 2010: THREAD (3.5 minutes, HD video)
  • 2010: TO MAKE A PRAIRIE (12.5 mins, 16mm)
  • 2009: ELEMENT NUMBER ONE (30 mins, HD video)
  • 2008: WITH GOD ON OUR SIDE (8 mins, HD video)
  • 2007: GLOBE (43 min, HD video)
  • 2007: PAPER FACTORY (8 min, video)
  • 2007: DRIP (2 min, video)
  • 2007: DROP (4 min, HD Video)
  • 2007: PRIMARY FUNCTION (2 min, HD video)
  • 1998: CLOTH (3 min, 16mm, silent)
  • 1998: PUNCH (2 min, 16mm, silent)
  • 1998: GIOTTO CIRCLE #2 (3.5 min, Hi-8 video)
  • 1991: HAMMERED (2 min, video)
  • 1991: THE LIGHTHOUSE (30 min, video)
  • 1991: WEATHER BED (3 min, video)
  • 1991: CORNFIELD (8.5 min, video)
  • 1991: PIANO (8.5 min, video)
  • 1990: GLOVE (1.5 min, Hi-8 video)
  • 1990: LENS (2.5 min, Hi-8 video)
  • 1987: STUDIO TAPE (45 min, Hi-8 video)
  • 1982: WAITING FOR THE WIND (7.5 min, Super8)
  • 1980: NO JAPS AT MY FUNERAL (60 min, video)
  • 1978: ROME '78 (75 min, Super8-to-16mm.)
  • 1977: TV FACES (6 min, Super8-to-16mm)
  • 1977: SUICIDE? NO, MURDER (30 min, Super8-to-16mm)
  • 1976: GAME (3 min, video)
  • 1976: BLOCK (3 min, Super8-to-16mm, silent)
  • 1976: GIOTTO CIRCLE #1 (3 min, Super8-to-16mm, silent)
  • 1976: POLES (2 min, video)
  • 1976: PENDULUM (17 min, Super8-to-16mm)
  • 1976: STUDIO PENDULUM (7 min, Super8-to-16mm)
  • 1976: FIRST PENDULUM (5 min, Super8-to-16mm)
  • 1976: STEEL ROD (5 min, Super8-to-16mm, silent)
  • 1976: ARM AND HAMMER (3.5 min, Super8-to-16mm, silent)
  • 1976: RAMP (3 min, Super8-to-16mm)
  • 1976: TWISTER (2 min, Super8-to-16mm, silent)
  • 1975: HANDNOTES #2 (5 min, video, silent)
  • 1975: ROOF (12 min, 1/2" video)


  1. Sussler, Betsy, "Interview with James Nares" BOMB Magazine Spring, 1989
  2. Masters, Marc. No Wave. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2007, pp.148–149
  3. Rebellion of the quiet Retrospective of James Nares, No Wave’s subtlest filmmaker
  4. Schwendener, Martha (10 August 2012). "In James Nares' STREET, Taming the Galloping City". The New York Times.


Further reading

  • Carlo McCormick, The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene, 1974–1984, Princeton University Press, 2006.
  • Alan W. Moore and Marc Miller, eds. ABC No Rio Dinero: The Story of a Lower East Side Art Gallery New York: ABC No Rio with Collaborative Projects, 1985.
  • Masters, Marc. No Wave. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2007, pp. 148–149.
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