Critics’ Picks

Barbara Kasten, Transposition 3, 2014, fujiflex digital print, 60 x 48".

Barbara Kasten, Transposition 3, 2014, fujiflex digital print, 60 x 48".

New York

Barbara Kasten

Bortolami Gallery
520 West 20th Street
April 2–May 2, 2015

Barbara Kasten did not study with Josef Albers, but the Bauhaus ghosts her work. The photographs on view in her latest exhibition are constructions, geometric props positioned to throw colored light and shadows across the page. The plastic forms in these images delineate space but neither rise into the foreground nor fall into the background.

A spatial visual exchange registers on the photographic paper. Where De Stijl jockeys color and line in two dimensions, Kasten’s “Transpositions,” 2014, opt for a manipulation of volume and air. This respiration of form into space appears as an intentional blurring, a reverberation caught by the still of the camera frame. This relational pull conjures up the words of architecture historian Sigfried Gideon, who acutely described the movement of modern buildings as “cubes of air within, cube of air without.” The neue-architektur of modern times was a model that demarcated potential and provided a physical framework for the utopian ideal. These photographs offer an architecture that takes in the expired ideals of their historical forebears to expand them outward, splaying their shadows into a transitional space. Kasten’s images have the power to show a new generation some basic concepts of art that they can explore with their nifty digital tools.