Skip to main content

Haim Steinbach

Professor Emeritus


Haim Steinbach is an influential exponent of art made with already existing objects. Since the late 1970's he has been conceiving structures and framing devices for the presentation of objects. Steinbach displays objects, ranging from the natural to the ordinary, the artistic to the ethnographic, giving form to art works which illuminate objects' aesthetic and social qualities. Exploring the psychological, cultural and ritualistic meanings of objects and their context, Steinbach has radically redefined the status of the object in art. After his 1979 and 1980 solo shows at Artists Space and Fashion Moda in New York, Steinbach's interest in the world of objects made him a significant figure in the creative discourse of Eighties' New York. He participated with Group Material, an artist-run collaborative which exhibited in stores, apartments, and subways, and also showed his work at the new galleries in the East Village, including Jay Gorney Modern Art and Nature Morte. By the second half of the decade, Steinbach's work gained increasing attention in both America and Europe, and was included in various international shows such as New Sculpture, at the Renaissance Society of Chicago and Prospect 86, at the Kunstverien in Frankfurt, in 1986; El arte y su doble, at the Fundacion Caja de Pensiones, Madrid, Les courtiers du desire, at the Pompidu Center, Paris, and the Group Material installation at Documenta 8, Kassel, in 1987; Horn of Plenty, at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and A Forest of Signs, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 1988. He also had numerous solo shows at important galleries, such as Sonnabend Gallery, New York; Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago; Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles; Galleria Lia Rumma, Naples; and Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris. By the late 1980's Steinbach was recognized as one of the world's leading contemporary artists. One person shows were organized at the capc Musée d'Art Contemporain, Bordeaux in 1988, the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (with John Knight), in 1991, the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, in 1992, and at the Guggenheim Museum, in New York (with Ettore Spalletti), in 1993. Through the 1990's his work has been included in many important shows, for example Metropolis, at the Martin-Gropius Haus, Berlin in 1991; Documenta 9, Kassel and The Boundary Rider, Ninth Sydney Biennale in 1992; Viaggio Verso Citera XLV, Venice Biennale in 1993; Passions privée at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1995; NowHere, at the Louisiana Museum of Art Humblebeak in 1996; Città Natura, at the Botanical Gardens and the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, and Passato, Presente, Futuro XLVI Venice Biennale, in 1997; Pop/Abstraction at the Museum of American Art, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia in 1998; Dinge in der Kunst des XX. Jahrhunderts, Haus der Kunst, 2000; Partage d'Exotismes, Biennale de Lyon, 2000; Shopping, Schirn Kunsthalle, 2002. In 1995 a major survey of Haim Steinbach's work took place at the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art in Turin, Italy. Other important one person museum shows followed at the Art Gallery of York University, Toronto, 1996; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, 1997; Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, and Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2000. Haim Steinbach's work has been the subject of discussion in numerous publications, such as Artforum, 1988 ("Haim Steinbach's Wild, Wild, West", Germano Celant); Artscribe, 1988 ("The Consumption of Everyday Life", John Miller); and Flash Art International, 1996 ("Haim Steinbach: Naked in the Nineties", Jen Budney). His work has been discussed in numerous anthologies such as: L'Ivresse du Reel: L-Objet dans l'art du XXè siècle, 1993; Return of the Real, 1996; Art of the 20th Century, 1998; Art Since 1940 - Strategies of Being, 1995; Conceptual Art, 1998; and Modernism in Dispute, 1993. Publications devoted to his work accompanied one person exhibitions as follows: capc Musee d'Art Contemporain de Bordeaux, 1998; Castello di Rivoli,1995; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, 1997; Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin and Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2000. Steinbach has taught at Goddard College and Middlebury College in Vermont; Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como; and at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He has had many visiting artist engagements including Yale University, New Haven; Van Eyck Akademie, Mastrich; Goldsmiths University, London; Columbia University, New York.

photo of installation of red and white objects on red and white shelves

exuberant relative #2, 1986