Petra Cortright was born in Santa Barbara in 1986 and currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Considered one of the foremost artists of the ‘Net Art’ and ‘Post Internet’ movements, Cortright is known for her digitally conceived artworks that exist in many forms including YouTube videos, digital paintings, as well as projections and prints on archival and metallic surfaces. Her multifaceted work presents a critical examination and questioning of the dawn of technology and its profound effects on aesthetics, culture and society.
In her early work, Cortright recorded herself performing simple gestures and frequently employed ‘selfie’ filters or effects before uploading her videos to YouTube. Cortright’s videos have been subject to much critical debate and have since secured her collaborations with many creatives, including the fashion designer Stella McCartney. Solely created and experienced via the medium of the internet, Cortright’s early work shares affinities with the ‘Net Art’ movement, a political landmark in Internet art history whose precursors include the international Fluxus and Avant-Pop movements.
Cortright later combined digital innovations with traditional techniques to craft digital paintings. Often simulating brushwork and figurative forms through digital software, Cortright has unveiled how digital strategies can be used to create objects that exist in the real world, subsequently securing her a central role in the ‘Post Internet’ movement.
To create her intricate paintings, Cortright embarks on a process of which she describes as ‘breaking down photography’. Cortright garners images from sources such as Pinterest and Google Images to create a digital file. She later manipulates these images on Photoshop by layering them on top of one another. These layers are later transferred onto substrates such as aluminium, linen, paper and acrylic sheets through industrial print processes. The results are expressive floral paintings that bear semblance to Impressionist and Abstract artworks, invoking a unique fusion of impersonal mass production and personal gesture.
As an artist who takes on the role of painter, graphic designer, editor and producer, Cortright has created an immensely rich and diverse body of work to date. From the performative and digital to the painterly and tangible, Cortright’s artworks critically engage with a wider dialogue concerning performative cultures of online consumption, connectivity, fabrication and multimediality.
Public and Museum Collections
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Booth Business School Collection, University of Chicago
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
LACMA, Los Angeles
MOCA, Los Angeles
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
MoMA, New York
Net Art Anthology, Rhizome
Péréz Museum, Miami
San Jose Museum of Art, California
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Stedelijik Museum Amsterdam