A new exhibition of the artist Haim Steinbach, his first with the gallery is on view at White Cube Mason’s Yard from early October. Steinbach is interested in the shared social ritual of collecting, arranging and presenting everyday objects and materials, an experience that on a basic level extends to us all, whether it’s through the way we arrange our homes or the way we select and wear our clothes. This exhibition is comprised of two new series of works that continue that enquiry and trace a trajectory in the artist’s practice that stretches from the 1970s to today. In 1976, Steinbach produced a series of works based on grid-like geometric patterns created with strips of linoleum flooring. The ‘Linopanel’ works marked a pivotal moment in Steinbach’s career when he abandoned his investigation into minimalist painting and began to work with found objects. His use of linoleum, an everyday material that imitates more valuable floor covering, such as marble and tile, complicates the purist dictates of minimalism and introduces a domestic and social referent that was to become important to his subsequent work. For this exhibition, Steinbach has re-created the ‘Linopanel’ works for the first time since the 1970s.
Steinbach’s 1979 exhibition ‘Display # 7’ at Artists Space in New York introduced architecture as a primary focus in the conception of his work. The artist has said that ‘with architecture we enter the realm of objects and language’. Freestanding metal stud walls with drywall and wallpaper panels partition the gallery spaces at White Cube, Mason’s Yard. By reconfiguring space in this way, Steinbach asks us to reorient our relationship to a built environment that we usually overlook. Here, architecture advances into the foreground, reminding us that it is made up of culturally resonant materials and surfaces.
An interest in collecting and the methodologies of display forms the basis of a second suite of works in the exhibition, a series of boxes made from wood as well as a fiberglass and aluminum material used in the aviation industry. Steinbach uses these boxes as a device to underscore seemingly ordinary objects, allowing us to consider their aesthetic, social, and psychological evocations without prejudice or presumption. We have feelings about objects, which are often complicated and intense. We project onto them and communicate through them. They provoke a variety of possible cultural or psychic associations leading to an infinite chain of meanings. In this exhibition, the artist has put into play a number of objects and materials that evoke ideas about travel. This subject is here understood not only in terms of the movement of people from one place to another, but as a set of shifting interrelations between people and objects as they move through various contexts and fields of signification. For Steinbach, objects are relatively unfixed and dynamic entities. They ‘perform’ and take on various roles according to how they are positioned in the world. In this sense, one could say that an object does not only represent the notion of travel, but is itself actively on the move.
Haim Steinbach was born in 1944 in Rehovot, Israel. He lives and works in New York. He received a BFA from Pratt Institute in 1968 and a MFA from Yale University in 1973. Steinbach has held solo exhibitions at CCS Bard Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale on Hudson (2013); The Artist’s Institute, New York (2012); Haus der Kunst, Munich and Artists Space, New York (2000); Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna (1997); Castello di Rivoli, Turin (1995); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1993); Witte de With, Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (1992 ); CAPC musée d’art contemporain, Bordeaux (1988 ). His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Montreal; The Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2011); Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (2011); Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2011); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2011); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2010 ); Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon; S.M.A.K, Ghent (2008); Serpentine Gallery, London (2006 ); Museum fur Gegenwarts Kunst, Basel (2005); New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2005 ); Tate Liverpool (2002); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1998) and the Centre George Pompidou, Paris (1990). His work was included in Documenta IX and the Sydney Biennial in 1992, the 1993 and 1997 Venice Biennales, the 2000 Biennale de Lyon, and La Triennale, Paris, in 2012.
Haim Steinbach Travel White Cube Mason’s Yard 2 October – 16 November 2013