Born in 1942 in Rock Springs, Wyoming, Paul Kos attended San Francisco Art Institute, receiving his BFA (1965) and MFA (1967). Soon after, he became central to the Bay Area Conceptual Art Movement, working in a materials-based practice, bringing together imagery of landscape with precepts of socialist ideals and the “Everyman.” Since the early 1970’s Kos’s work has challenged conventions of art media and subject matter. For a global audience, he staged new possibilities for artistic treatments of time, space and cultural systems. Kos was influential to many students at SFAI where he taught and was a key figure in the development of its “New Genres” program.
Kos was shown in San Francisco Performance (1972) at the Newport Harbor Art Museum and the following years received several NEA Fellowship grants. His video works were part of the nascent video program at Leo Castelli’s gallery and subsequently included in international exhibitions such as the 1973 Sao Paolo Biennial. The Berkeley Art Museum organized Everything Matters: Paul Kos, A Retrospective in 2003 (with catalog), a 35-year overview of works in all media. The exhibition tour included the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; Grey Art Gallery, New York University; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. In 2016 the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art exhibited Equilibrium: A Paul Kos Survey, reflecting on the San Francisco-based artist’s long-standing relationship with the Western landscape, from his native Wyoming to California. Kos has been featured in group exhibitions at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco; the Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou, China; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, Germany; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; among many others. AnglimGilbert Gallery has shown six solo presentations of Kos’ work and featured him in the ongoing exhibition series, SOLID CONCEPT, beginning in 1989.