Art Fag City at The L Magazine: Haim Steinbach, Riddle Me This…

by Paddy Johnson on October 12, 2011 The L Magazine

My latest review is up at The L Magazine. This week I talk about Haim Steinbach’s exhibition Creature, at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.

“That show?!” Not long ago I made a passing comment about how much I liked Haim Steinbach‘s exhibition Creature at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (through October 22), and it didn’t go over well. Some people I spoke to criticized the artist’s work for having remained “the same” for over 25 years; others thought his object arrangements weren’t nearly as poignant as Jeff Koons. I don’t agree with either criticism.

For one, Steinbach’s long wall-mounted wedges showcasing objects evocative of the human figure are as good as he’s ever produced. And whereas I often find Koons’s complicity in his work’s vacuity and commodity too dark to fully enjoy, I've never thought poignancy was precisely Steinbach’s bag anyway. For me, the thrill of looking at Creature is in the complete visual balance of his sculptures, often achieved through the erasure of an object's origin or function. Koons elevates the same essence that Steinbach seeks to remove from things.

“Objects are riddles,” Steinbach told me in a recent interview, a point made immediately apparent by the five wall-mounted works in the first floor gallery. Unlike most shelves, which are viewed front-on, almost all the gallery visitors I saw examined the pieces front to back as if looking for an answer key.

To read the full piece click here.

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