Julie Speed, Chicago, Illinois, b.1951
After dropping out of Rhode Island School of Design at age 19, Julie Speed spent her twenties moving around the U.S. and Canada working pick-up jobs (house painter, horse trainer, ad writer, farm worker etc.) until moving to Texas in 1978 where she settled down and taught herself to paint. She switches back and forth regularly between oil painting, printmaking, collage, gouache and drawing, often combining disciplines.
Utilizing her keen sense of the absurd, Speed ponders the big questions—the role of religion, isolation and longing, sexuality, sin and guilt—with a sly, sometimes dark, sense of humor and a steadfast refusal to offer the viewer any tidy resolutions. It is the emphatically open-ended and omnivorous nature of her work, combining anxiety, erotica, and violence with the subversive power of beauty that puts Speed in the vanguard of a return to figurative painting in contemporary art.
Speed has exhibited throughout the United States and internationally at numerous galleries and museums. Two monographs by UT Press have been published on Speed’s artwork: SPEED, ART 2003-2009 and Julie Speed: Painting, Constructions and Works on Paper. Speed’s artworks can be found in a number of public collections including Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, The Art Museum of Southeast Texas, The Grace Museum, The McNay Art Museum, The Contemporary Austin and the San Antonio Museum of Art.