Joseph Havel

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Joseph Havel’s recent sculpture seamlessly melds compositional strategies indebted to post-Minimalism with metaphorically resonant objects. In his recent ten-year retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the combination of style and subject was almost perfect, its effect both elegant in its capitalization on the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe–designed galleries and more than a little sorrowful in its take on gender-role conformity.

The overwhelming majority of objects shown here make use of either fabric or fabric cast in bronze. Bruised, 2004, for example, consists of a Carl Andre–like grid of boxes containing specially fabricated shirt labels, each printed with the title of the work. Beginning with the mute objecthood of the commercial fabricator’s cuboid boxes, Havel gently nudges their contents to produce small ripples and curls. Together with the corporeal associations of the title,

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