An Atlas of Es Devlin

November 21, 2023
August 11, 2024
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Photo by Es Devlin Studio. Courtesy of Es Devlin.

An Atlas of Es Devlin is the first monographic museum exhibition dedicated to British artist and stage designer Es Devlin (born 1971), who is renowned for work that transforms audiences. Since beginning in small theaters in 1995, she has charted a course from kinetic stage designs at the National Theatre and the Metropolitan Opera to installations at major institutions, including the World Expo, Lincoln Center, and the United Nations headquarters. Her sculptures for Olympic Ceremonies, NFL Super Bowl halftime shows, and stadium tours for Beyoncé, The Weeknd, and U2 frame narratives that feel personal at a monumental scale. Over the past decade, she has adapted her craft to address climate and civilizational crises. Her public installations on endangered species and languages have inspired audiences to reimagine their connections to each other and to the planet. She shapes stories in ways that stay with us and reframe our thinking.

These stories often begin in the margins of texts. Devlin’s work is rooted in a lifelong practice of reading and drawing. Sketches and small cardboard models form the seeds of her large-scale architectures. Until now, these drawings, paintings, and sculptures have remained unseen. For this first monographic exhibition of her work, Devlin and the curators dug through her 30-year archive, mapping throughlines that connect her teenage paintings to her stage designs to her contemporary installations. Devlin calls the result an atlas—a collection of maps.

Connect with your own inspiration, explore the Es Devlin Creative Curriculum.


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Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum