Ellen Gallagher (b.1965) is one of the most celebrated painters of her generation, coming to prominence in the mid-1990s in the wake of the so-called ‘culture wars’ and the art world’s controversial embrace of identity-politics and multiculturalism. In this in-depth look at her oeuvre, Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith unpacks the complexities of her richly layered paintings, examining themes such as identity, race, displacement, and the ecological environment, which Gallagher has explored throughout her work. The author takes the reader from Gallagher’s early years—looking at her formative influences—through her engagement, from the late 1990s on, with the inherited modernist forms of the monochrome and the grid and with the violence and division at the root of modernism itself. Also explored are her phantasmagoric explorations of oceanic life, which draw on the discoveries of natural science, the traumatic history of the Atlantic slave trade, and the speculative fictions of Afrofuturism. For anyone interested in contemporary art and the ways particular artists are expanding its borders, in form and content, this is essential reading.