Devlin’s protean work is rooted in a lifelong practice of reading and drawing. From sketches in the margins of texts, be they poetry, drama, song lyrics, opera libretti, climate reports or endangered species lists, emerge the technically advanced, collectively imagined universes for which she is globally renowned. Fragile miniature paintings, paper cuts and small mechanical cardboard models form the seeds of some of the most iconic, large-scale, multi-disciplinary cultural manifestations in recent times, from public sculptures and installations at Tate Modern, Serpentine, V&A, Barbican, Imperial War Museum, and the Lincoln Center, to kinetic stage designs at the Royal Opera House, the Royal Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, and the National Theatre, as well as Olympic Ceremonies, Super Bowl half-time shows, and monumental illuminated stage sculptures for Beyoncé, The Weeknd, U2, Rosalía, Dr. Dre, and Kendrick Lamar.
Devlin’s work is at once deeply personal and inherently collective. Over the past decade her art practice has engaged with biodiversity, linguistic diversity, and collective AI-generated poetry. She views the audience as a temporary society and encourages profound cognitive shifts by inviting public participation in communal choral works.
Published in association with a retrospective exhibition opening at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York in November 2023, An Atlas of Es Devlin is a unique, sculptural volume of over 900 pages, including foldouts, cut-outs, and a range of paper types, mirror and translucencies, with over 700 color images documenting over 120 projects spanning over 30 years, and a 50,000 word text featuring the artist’s personal commentaries on each art work as well as interviews with her collaborators including Hans Ulrich Obrist, Bono, Benedict Cumberbatch, Pharrell Williams, Carlo Rovelli, Brian Eno, Sam Mendes, Alice Rawsthorn, and Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye. Each book is boxed and includes a die-cut print from an edition of 5000.
Es is like superstring theory, at least eleven dimensions.
— Hans Ulrich Obrist
Es knows how to bend the mind around corners of our experience.
— Benedict Cumberbatch
Es takes our inchoate aspirations and sculpts them into a stage.
Es is a turning point for anyone she interacts with.
— Pharrell Williams
Es creates moments in which we suddenly become aware of life and existing, and time.
— Carlo Rovelli
Es Devlin is a British contemporary artist who aims to amaze people into changing their minds. She creates large-scale sculptures that combine light, music, and language in order to encourage the cognitive and behavioral shifts that are becoming ever more urgent in the context of the Climate Emergency. Her work has been displayed at Tate Modern, Serpentine, V&A, and PACE Gallery's Superblue Miami alongside a new work by James Turrell. She has created stage sculptures for Beyoncé, The Weeknd, U2, the Royal Opera House, National Theatre, La Scala, and the Met Opera as well as the 2022 Super Bowl featuring Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, and Eminem.