Anyone in a Fine Arts program in the last 3 decades would eventually have came across the work of Barbara Kasten. Seeing her work for the first time taught me that a photograph could be so much more than just a document. Part performance, sculpture, still life and abstraction – her work blends varied traditions from multiple mediums. There are many who have explored photography this way but they all owe Kasten a nod for mining this territory so well and thoroughly.
This is the first retrospective of her work at ICA and not to be missed.
Barbara Kasten: Stages is the first major survey of the work of artist Barbara Kasten. Widely recognized for her photographs, since the 1970s Kasten has developed her expansive practice through the lens of many different disciplines, including sculpture, painting, theater, textile, and installation. Spanning her nearly five-decade engagement with abstraction, light, and architectonic form, this exhibition situates Kasten’s practice within current conversations around sculpture and photography. Kasten’s interest in the interplay between three- and two-dimensional forms, her engagement with staging and the role of the prop, her cross-disciplinary process, and her new approaches to abstraction and materiality are all intensely relevant to the present artistic moment, resulting in a new generation of artists who have drawn inspiration from Kasten’s aesthetic and method.
Kasten’s work has roots in the unique and provocative intersection of Bauhaus-influenced pedagogy in the US, the California Light and Space movement, and postmodernism. Taking its cue from the multiple ways in which Kasten herself has staged her work, both in the studio and on site, the exhibition makes links between her more well-known photographic series of studio constructions and architectural interventions and her earliest fiber sculptures, mixed media works, cyanotype prints, and forays into set design. In addition, Kasten will create a new site-specific installation in the ICA galleries.
Organized by Alex Klein, the Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber (CHE’60) Program Curator. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication that includes a biography of the artist, new scholarly essays by the curator as well as by art historians Alex Kitnick and Jenni Sorkin, and a conversation between Kasten and artist Liz Deschenes.
Exhibition: Barbara Kasten at ICA