Duke Riley

Pigeon Loft, 2012-2013, Reclaimed wood, roofing and construction materials, 168 x 120 x 72 in

(sideview) Pigeon Loft, 2012-2013, Reclaimed wood, roofing and construction materials, 168 x 120 x 72 in

(detail) Pigeon Loft, 2012-2013, Reclaimed wood, roofing and construction materials, 168 x 120 x 72 in

To Have Not, 2013, Found seashells and wood, 96 x 96 in

Duke Riley

The Smuglers & The Filmakers, 2013, Key West reclaimed roof tin, gouache, 14 x 9 in (each) 

Duke Riley

The Rematch, 2012-2013, Single channel video, 3 42 inch monitors, solid state media players

Masks used in The Rematch, 2012, mixed media

Duke Riley: See You At The Finish Line

November 1, 2013 - January 25, 2014



Magnan Metz Gallery is pleased to announce Duke Riley’s fourth solo exhibition: See You at the Finish Line, November 1, 2013 - January 11, 2014 with an artist reception November 1 from 6-8 pm.

Since the late 5th millennium BC, maritime passage has been instrumental in the development of civilization, facilitating greater mobility, opportunities for trade, transport, protection, competition and warfare. In the spirit of this history and its impact on community, country and legend, Duke Riley realized two ambitious projects.
The Rematch: Sent to China by smArtpower, an initiative of the USA Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in conjunction with the Bronx Museum, Riley had 45 days to complete a participatory piece that involved local arts organizations, communities and the dialogue and civic engagement amongst them.  In his characteristic style, Riley put his own take on the legend of the Chinese zodiac. Riley explains, “It is well known that the rat, the winner of the race, cheated.  Nevertheless, this oversight established an order that has remained a celebrated tradition for centuries… In the interest of fairness, I propose a rematch!”

Working with the local community along the canals of Zhujiajiao, Riley restaged the race with traditional gondolas complete with live animals, hand-made masks for each animal and opera singers performing songs from the “first animal” perspective, making a musical case for why that animal should have won the original race.  Riley states “No calendars will be reset at the finish line nor will any closer understanding of that mythical day be realized.  The only realization will be a brief moment of divine absurdity between two shores.”

Trading with the Enemy: Four years of planning and eight months of breeding and homing pigeons was the beginning of this project addressing the political and historical aspect of illicit smuggling, rum running and the only nation against which the United States upholds the Trading with the Enemy Act. Up until the embargo regular crossings between Key West and its sister city Havana were commonplace and the ships Captains regularly kept homing pigeons to relay messages of safe arrival or distress.

Riley’s pigeon loft constructed out of reclaimed materials off the island of Key West will move into the gallery along with some of the pigeons that “successfully completed the mission.”  Harnesses worn by the birds were either “smugglers” carrying contraband and named after historical smugglers, or “filmmakers” wearing customized cameras, named after filmmakers who have had brushes with the law.  Paintings, mosaic, drawings and footage of flight will be on view.

Duke Riley received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a MFA from Pratt Institute.  His exhibitions and projects over the past several years have garnered much praise including solo shows at Cleveland MOCA; Philagrafika at the Philadelphia Historical Society and Those About to Die Salute You at the Queens Museum of Art which won AICA’s second place for “Best Project in Public Space 2010. In 2010-11 Riley was the recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant , the Joan Mitchell Grant, and chosen as one out of 25 American artists to be selected for smARTpower project, through the State Department, which sent him to China.  He recently designed the book cover for Nick Cave’s “The Complete Lyrics 1978-2013”, participated in the Mercosul Bienal, Brazil (2011); designed a subway station for the MTA Commission Subway Station and Art for Transit poster artist (2009-2011); held the First St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Havana as part of the Havana Biennial (2009); and was a grantee for the Art Matters Foundation (2009).

For Media Inquires please contact Heather Dell at heather@magnanmetz.com or 212-244-2344


Free Bird: Duke Riley Riles the Law
Avian Artistry, With Smuggled Cigars
Duke Riley Giving Away Prints at the Armory Show, But You Gotta Make Them Yourself
Maritime Mischief