UTA Artist Space presents Ernie Barnes: Where Music and Soul Live, an important survey of paintings by Ernest Eugene “Ernie” Barnes Jr. (1938-2009) that explores the history and music scene in Los Angeles, where the artist lived for many years. Works in the exhibition include prominent paintings Barnes made between the 1970s and up until 2008, right before his death in 2009. It will include over 30 well-known and also never-before-seen works from his estate and loans from important collectors. The exhibition at UTA Artist Space coincides with a co-presentation of Barnes’s work by Ortuzar Projects and Andrew Kreps at Frieze Los Angeles.
Barnes was an American artist, actor, author, and the first American professional athlete to become a noted painter. His paintings are known for their elongated figures and celebration of Black joy. Barnes is also well known for his work The Sugar Shack, a dancing scene featured on the cover of Marvin Gaye’s album I Want You and during the closing credits of the TV sitcom Good Times. Notably, the painting recently sold for $15.3 million at Christie’s, making national headlines. Music collectors of Barnes’ works include Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Billy Davis Jr. and Marilyn McCoo, Lou Adler, Ray Parker Jr., and more.
This marks the second Ernie Barnes exhibition presented by UTA Artist Space. In 2020, the gallery alongside Luz Rodriguez, who manages the estate, debuted the first major exhibition since the artist passed in 2009. Titled Liberating Humanity From Within, the exhibition was curated in part by Barnes himself during his lifetime. Where Music and Soul Live is a further exploration of the artist’s practice and longstanding passion for music.