Landy was born in London. He studied at Loughborough College of Art, 1981-83 and Goldsmiths College, University of London, 1985-88. He participated in the group exhibition Freeze, curated by fellow Goldsmiths student Damien Hirst in 1988, and in the East Country Yard Show curated by fellow Goldsmiths graduate Sarah Lucas in 1990. His first solo exhibition was in January 1989 at the Gray Art Gallery, New York, and his first solo exhibition in London was in September of that same year at Karsten Schubert Ltd.
Landy’s work has focused on the world of marketing and consumerism, commenting on the political and social climate in Britain over the last decade and a half. In 1990 he transformed a vast industrial space into an imaginary indoor market for his installation work simply titled Market. Completely devoid of produce, the installation used only the basic apparatus of display: tiered steel framed stalls with a fake grass covering, plastic crates and other items as used by London street traders, with video monitors playing film sequences of actual traders going about their daily business of setting up their stalls using the same materials. For his 1992 Closing Down Sale, he turned the Karsten Schubert gallery into a bargain shop with trolleys full of cheap consumer items and day-glo signs exclaiming such slogans as ‘Recession Sale’ and ‘Out of Business’. His installation Scrapheap Services, first shown in the exhibition Brilliant! New Art from London at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis in 1996, had more obviously sinister overtones of redundancy and disposability in a ‘big brother’ state. For his most recent work Breakdown, presented over 14 days in a disused department store in the heart of the West End of London in February 2001, Landy systematically broke down every single thing he owned at that point in his life, over 7000 individual items, the ultimate statement on consumerism.
Kate Bush: Michael Landy: Market, One-Off Press, London, 1990
Michael Landy/Breakdown, an interview with Julian Stallabrass, Artangel, London, 2001