James Casebere. Emotional Architecture
27 Jan — 11 Mar 2017 at Sean Kelly Gallery in New York, United States
Sean Kelly is delighted to announce Emotional Architecture, a major one-person exhibition by James Casebere. This will be Casebere’s first solo presentation of new work in New York since 2010 and his first in the gallery’s new space. The opening reception will take place on Thursday, January 26 from 6-8 pm, and the artist will be present.
In Emotional Architecture, Casebere will present an entirely new body of work inspired by world-renowned Mexican architect Luis Barragán. The title of the exhibition references the name given to the style of modernist architecture conceived by Barragán and the artist Mathias Goéritz, who, frustrated by the cold functionalism of Modernism, embraced space, color and light to create buildings that engendered warmth, meditation, and reflection.
In this new body of work, Casebere returns to his career-long interrogation of interior architectural spaces to explore Barragán’s sumptuous use of color, dramatic light and simple haptic, planar surfaces. These new works evoke the serene austerity that inhabited Casebere’s early series of work examining societal power structures through the interrogation of prisons cells. However, the sense of isolation and enforced confinement that defined those works has been replaced with an atmosphere of joy and beauty that characterizes Barragán’s unique oeuvre.
Casebere's innovative work has established him at the forefront of artists to work with what would become known as constructed photography. His practice over the last four decades reveals the influence of film, architecture, and art history on him, in both the simple and the complex models that he creates in his studio. His table-sized constructions are made of everyday materials, pared down to their essential forms in order to create ambiguous, evocative, and, on occasion, unsettling environments. Devoid of human figures, the resulting images invite viewers to project into and inhabit the spaces he has created, relying on their imagination and memory to fill in the gaps.
Casebere is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including several from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. His work is collected by museums worldwide, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; the Los Angeles County Museum; and the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate Gallery in London, England, among many others.
In 2016, Casebere was a New York Foundation for the Arts Hall of Fame Honoree and the subject of important survey exhibitions: Fugitive at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, curated by Okwui Enwezor; Immersion at Espace Images Vevey in Switzerland; and After Scale Model: Dwelling in the Work of James Casebere, at the BOZAR/Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, Belgium. The exhibitions were accompanied by major publications, which are available at the gallery.
For his exhibition at the Haus der Kunst, Casebere created site-specific works that referred to the building’s complex political history as a representational National Socialist structure. One of these works, entitled Grandstand, will be on view in the front gallery space during Emotional Architecture. The work is an abstract interpretation of the stage used in the Albert Speer-designed Zeppelin Field in Nuremberg, the Nazi equivalent of a Roman arena. Although thematically separate from the rest of the exhibition, Grandstand is part of Casebere’s continuing confrontation with historically burdened architecture. Furthermore, it presents a particularly pertinent meditation on the current political climate.