“Space and Place” explores Jene Highstein’s seminal sculptures as well as works on paper from the 1970s through the 1990s. A key figure of sculptural abstraction, Highstein used bronze, concrete, steel and wood to create primal and organic forms.
Highstein’s quasi-manufactured sculptures form a dialogue between raw materials and biomorphism, while also stressing the importance of the object’s presence and surrounding space. Throughout his artistic career, Highstein persistently investigated the relationship of sculpture to its surroundings and its impact on the viewer, playing with the viewer’s experience of space. The solidity of Highstein’s sculptures complement the delicacy of his works on paper. His drawings of intense bone black pigment and Chinese ink function as maquettes for the sculptural mounds, spheres and totems. “Jene Highstein: Space and Place” demonstrates how his small ellipsoids of intense black morph into more totem and gourd-like shapes. The drawings are of equal status to his sculptures, and clearly map the evolution of his sculptural abstraction. The extensive archival component of the exhibition reveals Highstein’s commitment to the experiential. With documentary photographs of his work at a foundry in St Etienne, the making of cement sculpture ‘Distortions’ in Jean-Paul Najar’s flat and the transportation of his marble sculpture ‘One Foot’ to Venice for the 2013 Biennial give a peak into Highstein’s creative and thought processes.
- Jene Highstein, "Four Forged Steel", St Etienne 1978, Deutsch Foundation, Lausanne. Photo Magali Prod’Hom