Haim Steinbach

Haim Steinbach
Date of birth
25 Feb 1944
Place of birth
Israel/Middle East/Western Asia/Asia
Israeli, American
American sculptor and installation artist of Israeli birth. He studied for his BFA at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn between 1962 and 1968 after gaining US citizenship in 1962. Between 1971 and 1973 he studied for his MFA at Yale University, New Haven, CT. In the early 1970s he subverted the language of Minimalism in paintings, such as Brown Painting with Bars #3 (1973) by using linoleum strips instead of paint. This led to one of his first installations, Display #7 (1979), for which he covered the walls of the reception room at the Artists Space, New York, with strips of wallpaper, and displayed various knick-knacks on shelves. Such presentations of everyday objects, which reference the ready-mades of Marcel Duchamp, continued to be a vital part of Steinbach’s practice. In 1985 the triangular shelves (hand-made and Minimalist in appearance) became a dominant motif, used to support a variety of mass-produced objects including boxes of cornflakes and other such prosaic items, often repeated (as in the Pop paintings of Andy Warhol) to emphasize the link between factory production and the commodification of art. His use of digital clocks, lava lamps and stacked saucepans in a work such as Ultra Red #2 1/2 (1986) linked his art to that of Jeff Koons in its stark presentation of ordinary consumer items seen in the home as a way of commenting on both taste and commerce. He continued to make sculptures in the form of small cabinets, such as The Triangle (1994) and to present objects on shelves, but in the 1990s he also made larger installations such as Jacob’s Ladder (1997). In this case rows of steel shelves contain piles of stones, with a stepladder placed in between the shelving units, the title bringing out the poetic intentions of the imagery.

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