Artist and Cooper Union Alumnus Daniel Arsham Named 2021 Robert Gwathmey Chair

POSTED ON: September 15, 2021

Daniel Arsham

Daniel Arsham A'03 on the Great Hall stage in 2020. Photo by Marget Long

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art has named artist and alumnus Daniel Arsham A'03 to be the Fall 2021 Robert Gwathmey Chair. As part of his appointment, the New York-based artist, whose work straddles the line between art, architecture, performance, design, and fashion, will teach a lecture course at his alma mater on sculpture and the evolution of design aesthetics. During the semester-long course, Arsham will address a variety of topics that include the evolution of Porsche design and how it relates to sculptural tradition; the ethos of sneaker culture; and the emergence of NFTs and its impact on artists. 

“I would never have studied in New York City if not for Cooper Union, and I am honored by this invitation back to work alongside some of the professors I studied with as a student, such as Doug Ashford, who in the 90s and early 2000s, helped build the interdisciplinary language that is at the heart of the course I am creating,” says Arsham. “Teaching is a challenge that's different from making work in the studio. It's about communicating ideas around craft, meaning, and obsession with artistic production, and I hope students who enroll in my class benefit.”

Raised in Miami, Arsham attended Cooper’s School of Art where he received the Gelman Trust Fellowship Award in 2003. Soon thereafter he toured worldwide with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as the company’s stage designer. The experience led to an ongoing collaborative practice working with world-renowned artists, musicians, designers, and brands including his most recent work as creative director for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and StockX.

“The Gwathmey Chair has for many years celebrated the connections between artists and architects, and Daniel Arsham’s practice embodies such work, whether it be through Snarkitecture, the design firm he co-founded with fellow Cooper Union The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture graduate Alex Mustonen or his many playful installations and objects that explore material and space,” says School of Art Dean Mike Essl.

Since his graduation in 2003, Arsham’s work has been shown at PS1 (New York); The Museum of Contemporary Art (Miami); and The New Museum (New York) among others. He is represented by Galerie Perrotin.

The Gwathmey Chair was established by architect Charles Gwathmey in his father’s name. Robert Gwathmey, a printer and painter, was a professor who taught drawing at The Cooper Union for many years. The rotating interdisciplinary professorship in art and architecture has previously been held by Bill T. Jones, Maya Lin, Torkwase Dyson, and Hans Haacke, to name a few.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.