Selected works by Banks Violette

Banks Violette
Hate Them


polystyrene, polyurethane, tinted epoxy, wood, steel, drum stands and hardware

152.5 x 366 x 244 cm
Banks Violette’s Hate Them replicates a nightmarish teenage psyche. His minimalist suggestion of a rock band hovers above a sound stage with barbaric awe. Bank’s gnarlish fang-like forms encapsulate a testosterone-fuelled aggression with an iconic and primal flair. Drawing correlations between subculture and theatre, Violette addresses Black Metal as a performative act without clear limitation: a unique spectacle where artistic meaning is often literalised into real belief. Fuelled by its associations with violence, satanism, racism, and nationalism, Violette uses the Goth genre as both symptom and cause of individual immorality and social breakdown.
Banks Violette
Black Hole (Single Channel)


sculpture and wall drawing mixed media

45.7 x 213.4 x 214.4 cm
Death metal, ritual murder, and teenage suicide are mere starting points for Banks Violette; his gothic installations construct operatic analyses of the dark side of American culture. In works such as Black Hole, Violette aptly portrays this phenomenon of excess. Heavy-metal aesthetics become a mirror of youth culture anxiety, an adopted language compensating and empowering sensations of immense sorrow and despair. Citing examples where musical lyrics become instigating factors to real-life violence, Violette refers to an over-identification with fiction where artistic expression exceeds critical confinement, and fantasy and reality are blurred. Black Hole lingers on this edge of transition: its aestheticised destruction offers both horrific contemplation and potential for misuse.
Banks Violette
SunnO))) / (Repeater) Decay / Coma Mirror


Steel, hardware, plywood, paint, fibreglass, tinted epoxy, salt, resin

Dimensions variable
Banks Violette’s Untitled takes as its origin a performance by the rock bank SunnO))) which the audience was allowed to hear, but not to see. Casting their stage equipment in salt, Violette’s Untitled comprises the only visual documentation of this event. Through its strange crystalline and ghostly presence, Untitled captures the lingering aura of ominous phenomena. Reminiscent of the biblical story of Sodom, Violettle’s contemporary ‘pillars’ of salt give aftermath testimony to forbidden indulgence. During SunnO)))’s performance, the lead singer was encased in a black coffin. Represented as a shard-like abstraction, an ebony form takes centre stage as a mysterious monument of dissolution.

Other Resources
Additional information on Banks Violette
Modern and contemporary artists and art – Banks Violette
Banks Violette is an odd case -- something of a cross between Delacroix and Cady Noland. A consummate craftsman equally proficient at painting and sculpture, Violette is a present day history painter rendering the social landscape in which we live and the way the signs of our times breed and contain stories of violence. Violette's installations investigate the truly dark corners of American culture in a vernacular that weds an appreciation of high art forms to a kitsch Gothic sensibility. A consistent bearer of bad news, Violette here explores a recent horrific case with both passionate obsession and clinical detachment. - Banks Violette; The Grown-up Goth
Biennial curator Chrissie Iles has described Banks Violette’s work as embodying “the dark side of the heavy-metal American dream.” (We’ll confess that we were unaware there was a light side.) His high-contrast drawings and onyxlike sculptures, full of references to Satanic ritual murder and suicidal Judas Priest fans, certainly seem to fit that description. - An interview with Banks Violette
1. How did you get involved with making art with such a "difficult" iconography?
Its funny, because I've never thought about the iconography I use as particularily problematic. My relation to using that kind of visual language has more to do with my background, personal history or whatever than trying to be provocative in any way. I've always been really interested in how these images function, than how they appear i.e: what kind of frustrations are being navigated by this really angry seeming image, what kind of really basic human sorrow has to be compensated for by this type of language? Maybe not always sorrow, but I kind of gravitate towards a melancholic reading of things.
Ultra-Violette by Ben Davis
The first thing you see when you enter the Whitney’s first-floor project gallery is the 16 x 20 foot recreation of a burned-out church, slightly elevated atop a gleaming, mirror-like black stage. The beams of the structure are zombie white, gashed here and there, made of salt bonded with polyurethane resin. In places, the structure is broken, the jagged ends rimmed with black as if charred. - Banks Violette: Violent Visions. Flowering Fantasies by Dee Dee Vega
When you enter the exhibition room for Banks Violette's installation at The Whitney Museum of Art, it is hard to imagine that his coldly genteel sculpture was the fruit of the artist working for months in a chemical suit slaving over 200 pounds of Red Cross salt and epoxy. - Banks Violette by Brian Sholis
New Yorkers are uniquely positioned to assess the recent development of Banks Violette’s art. While his star is everywhere on the rise, it is already incandescent in this town, evidenced by his recent omnipresence in group exhibitions and the commission he received from the Whitney for his first-ever solo museum exhibition. - Banks Violette at Work Interview by James Westcott
James Westcott: What’s your new work for the Whitney about?
Banks Violette: There were a series of events that took place in Norway in the early 90s within the subculture of black metal. It happened in a place that is ethnically homogenous, with an elevated average income, and where Christianity has a large function in day-to-day life. In the early 90s, a group of about 20 teenagers got heavily involved with more extreme versions of heavy metal—theatrically aggressive, overtly satanic, the real barbarian dimension of heavy metal.