Mark Grotjahn
Sign Exchange
Karma, New York, 2016
64 pages, softcover
8 × 5 14 inches
Edition of 1,500


In the early 1990s, Mark Grotjahn was living in San Francisco, and weary of the figurative painting he and his colleagues were doing. He found inspiration at Lloyds, a bar across the street from his studio, in their handmade signs advertising hot dogs and drink specials. Grotjahn started painting copies of the bar’s signs. Sensing that the difference between his copies and the originals was the audience, Grotjahn “figured in order to get my sign to be as good as their signs, I needed to get my sign in their store.”  Thus began Grotjahn’s series of Sign Exchanges, where Grotjahn would paint copies of the signs of liquor stores, hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bodegas, and exchange his signs for the readymades on display. Mark Grotjahn: Sign Exchangeexplores this early series of works, displaying the signs the painter received in exchange for his paintings.