Haim Steinbach

mumok – Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien

Haim Steinbach’s recent retrospective managed to be concise and at the same time emphasize his creative range and stature. The curators chose to omit the artist’s virtuoso early assemblages incorporating a wide variety of domestic materials, beginning instead with the more technically accomplished “shelf pieces”—deadpan displays of consumer kitsch and precious goods—for which the artist became known during the mid-’80s.

In Steinbach’s shelf pieces, the supports are rendered almost precious through the use of elegant plastic laminates, simultaneously evoking and transgressing Minimalist self-referentiality. Mass-produced goods of little aesthetic and monetary value are displayed alongside rare objects, antiques, and finds from ethnographic museums. In works such as supremely black n. 3, 1985, charm of tradition, 1985, ultra lite n. 1, 1987, sweetest taboo, 1987, and Untitled, 1990, consumer

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