Milwaukee Art Museum to Present the First American Survey Exhibition of Acclaimed British Artist Idris Khan

Idris Khan: Repeat After Me charts the evolution of the artist’s practice from black-and-white photographic works to explorations of music, sound, and color, and debuts a new series inspired by iconic paintings.

MILWAUKEE, WI—July 25, 2023—The Milwaukee Art Museum announced today that it will present the first museum exhibition in the U.S. dedicated to the work of renowned London-based multidisciplinary artist Idris Khan in 2024. Idris Khan: Repeat After Me chronicles the development of the artist’s practice across more than two decades, from early monochromatic photographic works that capture the flow of time in still images, to a new series of abstract watercolor compositions that encapsulate the essence of iconic paintings of the 16th–⁠18th centuries through their use of color. Spanning painting, photographic prints, watercolors, works on paper, sculpture, and video, the exhibition explores themes including history, memory, time, music, repetition, and ritual. Idris Khan: Repeat After Me will be on view in the Museum’s Baker/Rowland Galleries April 5–August 11, 2024.

“This exhibition builds on the Milwaukee Art Museum’s history of identifying groundbreaking artists and giving them a platform to present their work,” said Marcelle Polednik, Ph.D., the Donna and Donald Baumgartner Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum and the curator of Idris Khan: Repeat After Me. “Khan’s practice condenses human experience into images that are both tactile and conceptual, imbued with echoes and reverberations that evoke the flow of time in an innovative way. With this exhibition, the Museum invites our community to engage with Khan’s poetic vision of memory and history.”

Upon graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2004, Khan garnered international attention for his digital layering of black-and-white photographs of well-known cultural artifacts to create ghostly images suggesting the passage of time and the accumulation of memory. The title of the exhibition, Idris Khan: Repeat After Me, alludes to the centrality of repetition and ritual in Khan’s approach to image-making, which the artist traces to his religious upbringing as a Muslim. Both have remained a throughline as his practice has expanded to encompass new artistic mediums and draw from an increasing variety of cultural imagery and texts. Exhibition highlights include:

  • every…Bernd & Hilla Becher Prison Type Gasholder, 2004, part of an early series of spectral homages to the influential German artist couple Bernd and Hilla Becher that exemplifies Khan’s fascination with appropriated imagery; 
  • A,D.959. B,D.960. C,D.958…after Franz Schubert, 2007, a triptych of monumental prints that simultaneously erases Schubert’s original sheet music and presents it in its entirety in single images, demonstrating Khan’s continued interest in music as a subject for artistic exploration; 
  • Burnt Wood, 2021, one in a series of rich blue paintings in which text accumulates into illegible bands of color in an emotional reflection on how the pandemic disrupted subjective perceptions of the passage of time; 
  • and The Four Seasons, 2021, a grid of 28 vibrant watercolor and oil works that collage fragments of the sheet music for Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with the artist’s observations of the transformations of the natural world over the course of a year.  

In this exhibition, Khan will also debut a new series of abstract watercolor compositions. Inspired by mass reproductions of iconic masterworks of the Renaissance–⁠18th century, this series demonstrates the increasing importance of color throughout Khan’s artistic practice and an evolution in his career-long investigation of well-known cultural artifacts.

The exhibition will be accompanied by robust public programming and a full-color, hardcover catalogue with essays by curator Marcelle Polednik, art critic David Carrier and a conversation between Idris Khan and artist Edmund De Waal.

About Idris Khan

Idris Khan OBE (b. 1978, Birmingham, UK) is an acclaimed artist whose work in photography, video, and sculpture has been widely exhibited internationally and can be found in the public collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA); the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the de Young Museum, San Francisco; the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris, among others. Major commissions have included The New York Times Magazine and the British Museum in London, and the artist’s first public sculpture in the UK 65,000 Photographs commissioned by the Southwark London Borough Council, London. In 2017, he was awarded the American Architecture Prize for his design of Abu Dhabi’s Wahat Al Karama, a memorial honoring members of the UAE who died in military service. In the same year, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to art. He lives in London with the artist Annie Morris, and their children Maude and Jago.

About the Milwaukee Art Museum

The Milwaukee Art Museum is an essential destination for art and architecture and a vital cultural resource that connects visitors to dynamic art experiences and one another. Housed in iconic buildings by Santiago Calatrava, Eero Saarinen, and David Kahler on a 24-acre lakefront campus, the Museum is Wisconsin’s largest art institution and home to both broad and deep collections, with exceptional holdings in American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; conceptual and minimalist art; prints and drawings; European art from the Renaissance through the nineteenth century; photography and new media; modern and contemporary design; folk and self-taught art; and twentieth-century Haitian art. A bold symbol of Milwaukee’s ambition and forward-thinking vision, the Museum is a place for community building, education, and celebration, that fosters creativity and critical discourse for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. For more information, visit

Media Contacts

For more information or to request images, please contact:

National media:
Sarah McNaughton / Hannah Holden
Resnicow and Associates /
212-671-5161 / 212-671-5154

Local media:
Cortney Heimerl
Milwaukee Art Museum