Sam Messer received a B.F.A. from Cooper Union in 1976 and an M.F.A. from Yale University in 1982. He is represented by Nielsen Gallery, Boston, and Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles. His work may be found in public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Art Institute of Chicago, and Yale University Art Gallery.


Messer has received awards including a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant in 1984, the Engelhard Award in 1985, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant in 1993, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996. He has recently collaborated with Paul Auster on The Story of My Typewriter, and with Denis Johnson on Cloud of Chalk. He was appointed senior critic at Yale in 1994 and in 2005 was appointed associate dean and professor (adjunct). He also serves as director of the art division of the Yale Summer School of Music and Art in Norfolk.


1982 MFA, Yale University, New Haven, CT

1976 BFA, The Cooper Union, New York, NY



2017 Sam Messer/MATRIX 178: Denis the Pirate, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT
Sam Messer: Portraits of Brooklyn, BRIC HOUSE, Brooklyn, NY

2013 Hell Hurts, Gasser Grunert, New York, NY

2007 The Evolution of Desire, Nielsen Gallery,Boston, MA
2006 Self-Portraits, Nielsen Gallery, Boston, MA

2004 Paintings, Nielsen Gallery, Boston, MA

2002 New Work, Shoshanna Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles, CA



2015 Collaborations: Sam Messer with Jonathan Safran Foer and Denis Johnson,Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, New York, NY

2013–2014 Hanging Conversation II, Jonathan Safran Foer/Sam Messer, Southern Georgia University, Statesboro, GA



2017 B3: Biennial of the Moving Image, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

2016 Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY

2015 Shorts, New York Film Festival, New York, NY

2013 Flesh and Blood, Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem, Israel

2006 National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

2005 Cloud of Chalk, Freight + Volume Gallery, New York, NY

2000 Sam Messer: 20 Years of Painting, Nielsen Gallery, Boston, MA

1999 Shoshanna Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1998 David Beitzel Gallery, New York, NY
1997 The Four Seasons, Shoshanna Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1994 Work, Death, Play, David Beitzel Gallery, New York, NY
1992 Stellar Gallery, Paris, France 1989 Ruth Siegel Ltd, New York, NY

1988 Spoleto Festival, Gibbes Museum, Charleston, SC

2009 Hanging Conversations, Messer/Safran Foer, Nielsen Gallery, Boston, MA

1982 Red Darkness, Sam Messer with Denis Johnson, Hudson D. Walker Gallery, Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA

2001 The Changing Face of Portraiture, Chapman University, Orange, CA

1995 Inside Out, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT

1994 Small Works, Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY

1991 Cruciformed: Images of the Cross in Contemporary Art, Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH