New York

Stephen Kaltenbach

Whitney Museum of American Art

A work of art that literally jams you against the wall can safely be called aggressive. Stephen Kaltenbach’s Room Cube, at the Whitney Museum, deliberately does so and the effect, if a bit overwhelming, is also interesting. Kaltenbach’s Cube is like a white Don Judd gone quietly mad, distended to a size so monstrous that it leaves only a narrow corridor around the walls connected by a thin space below the ceiling. A room so wrenched is so shocking that it takes a while for a first strong reaction—delight, bewilderment, or outrage—to subside. Then, from gimmick, the room grows into art.

Cube reveals, because it challenges, the way a room is felt—as a totality, even when ninety percent of it is hidden. Though always obscured by the oppressive cube, the three other walls are always sensed; you never lose your feeling of overall place. It is this strong sense of orientation that keeps the work

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.