b. 1944, Israel

Haim Steinbach Biography

Internationally recognised for making pristine, wedge-shaped wall shelves to hold his carefully selected, modestly-sized found objects, Haim Steinbach draws attention to the selling processes and commercial mechanisms that sustain the art world, as well as consumer culture, and extends Duchamp's notion of the mass-produced readymade to include group combinations and even handmade and natural forms.

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Early years and Education

Haim Steinbach (b. 1944, Rehovot, Israel) lives and works in New York. After moving to New York in 1957 he studied for a BFA at Pratt Institute, NYC (1962–68), Université d'Aix, Marseille (1965–66), and for an MFA at Yale in New Haven (1971–72). Steinbach began his professional career as a minimalist painter, showing coloured bars on square monochromes as seen in his work Brown Painting with Bars (1973), and a little later, gridded patterns using recycled floor lino as in Linopanel with Triangles (1976).

Wall reliefs

Steinbach emerged in the late 70s as a conceptualist sculptor/installation artist who—inspired by Duchamp, Smithson and Kosuth—in 1979 at Artists Space in New York focussed on the presentation of mass-produced objects in carefully selected groups that resonated when shown together. Individually these things had potent histories, but for each collection he invented a new methodology of display—exploiting a stark contrast of materials when using specially constructed, elegant, laminated shelves.

Galleries presenting his shows therefore become a mixture of toy shop, craft fair, hardware store and museum, focussing on the sequencing, repetition and history of his carefully chosen items.

Steinbach raises questions about why we like to put together (often disparate) objects and arrange them as families, often changing their contextualising narratives and associative properties. Steinbach's precisely positioned elements have been compared to notes in a score or words in a poem. The supporting coloured shelves they rest on can consist of different sized sections butted together. They function as a sort of angular stage that is also part shrine, part compendium, part Santa's sack and part professorial anthology. They hold up for our scrutiny items that overall reference a wide range of disciplines. Some gatherings appear to follow logic and have overt commonalities; others seemingly embrace nihilistic nonsense. All can be interpreted as a comment on the pervasive nature of consumerism and the central role the capitalist ethos plays in the commercial and museological arms of the art world.

Seminal Steinbach Artworks

Some of Steinbach's best known artworks include Untitled (baseball player, Snoopy, locomotive) (1975); Display #5 (1979); Display, #7 (1979); Display #10—Changing Displays (1980).

He also began making photographs of his works when installed in the homes of collectors as in Shelf Arrangement for Camille's Family Living Room in Little Italy, N.Y.C. (1981).

Later developments

Over the years Steinbach has employed a number of other methods of display, apart from his signature laminated angular shelves, showing sentence fragments on the wall, as in his work playboy of the west indies (2018) and in the statement 'no elephants', writ large within his 2011 exhibition Creature. He used thin-walled wooden boxes with glass sheet floors in Untitled Pantone 18120 (2016); separated coloured rectangles on the walls in eswürdesoaussehen (itwouldlooklikethis) (2018); scaffolding, wooden log walls, and wallpaper. Some of these formats hark back to the artist's work in the 70s and have been revived. He is no longer restricted to impeccable shelves presenting rows of stimulating artifacts.

Exhibitions

Haim Steinbach has been the subject of many solo and group exhibitions.

Selected Recent Solo Exhibitions include: Haim Steinbach: Once Again the World is Flat, Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, New York (2014); Haim Steinbach: Zerubbabel, Magazine III, Jaffa, Israel (2018); Haim Steinbach: Every Single Day, Museum Kurhaus, Kleve, Germany (2019); Haim Steinbach, MOMA, New York (2019); Haim Steinbach: 1991–1993, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York (2021).

Selected Recent Group Exhibitions include: Ambient, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York (2013); Objects Food Rooms, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York (2015); Cher(e) Ami(e)s, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2016); Display Show, Stroom den haag, Den Haag, Netherlands (2016); DLA Piper Series: Constellations, Tate Liverpool (2016); Fire and Ice: A Benefit Exhibition in Three Parts, The Kitchen, New York (2021).

Selected Collections

The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; The Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centre George Pompidou, Paris; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

John Hurrell | Ocula | 2022

Haim Steinbach Featured Artworks

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Untitled (hard hat) by Haim Steinbach contemporary artwork sculpture
Haim Steinbach Untitled (hard hat), 2013 Baltic birch plywood, plastic laminate and glass box and hard hat
130.4 x 97.4 x 57.1 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
Untitled (s&p shakers, piggy bank) by Haim Steinbach contemporary artwork sculpture
Haim Steinbach Untitled (s&p shakers, piggy bank), 2022 Plastic laminated wood shelf, wooden Dansk salt and pepper shaker set and plastic owl piggy bank
96.5 x 119.3 x 35.5 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
Untitled (s&p shaker, ducts) by Haim Steinbach contemporary artwork sculpture
Haim Steinbach Untitled (s&p shaker, ducts), 2022 Stic laminated wood shelf, wooden Dansk salt shaker and pepper mill and galvanized metal ducts
54.9 x 76.2 x 22.9 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
six feet under by Haim Steinbach contemporary artwork sculpture
Haim Steinbach six feet under, 2004 Plastic laminated wood shelf, painted wood shoes, ceramic pig and plastic feet and ceramic frog
96.5 x 175.9 x 48.3 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
Untitled (Fiji) by Haim Steinbach contemporary artwork sculpture
Haim Steinbach Untitled (Fiji), 2013 Fibreglass-faced honeycomb boards, plastic laminate and glass box; plastic water bottle
70.6 x 58 x 27.9 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
tailored cut by Haim Steinbach contemporary artwork sculpture
Haim Steinbach tailored cut, 1985 Plastic laminated wood shelf, portable bar, salt and pepper shakers
32.2 x 71 x 38.1 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
Untitled (2 kongs, sneakers, drill) by Haim Steinbach contemporary artwork sculpture
Haim Steinbach Untitled (2 kongs, sneakers, drill), 2015 Plastic laminated wood shelf; 2 rubber Kong dog chews; Converse ‘Chuck Taylor’ toddler sneakers; Makita cordless drill
56.5 x 102.9 x 28.6 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
either and or by Haim Steinbach contemporary artwork installation
Haim Steinbach either and or, 2015 Vinyl on wall
Kavi Gupta Contact Gallery

Haim Steinbach Recent Exhibitions

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Haim Steinbach Represented By

White Cube contemporary art gallery in Mason's Yard, London, United Kingdom
White Cube Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, West Palm Beach

Haim Steinbach In Ocula Magazine

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