Stephen Kaltenbach at Pierogi

“You Are Me.”
23 February–31 March, 2019
Opening Reception: Saturday, 23 February. 6-8pm

Press Release

“His art would be full of secrets and misdirection, mysteries and invisibility, hoaxes and questionable ethics, mischievous games and invented personae, sly humor and deferred surprises set to go off in the future like time bombs.” (Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, Artforum

PIEROGI is proud to introduce Conceptual artist, Stephen Kaltenbach, with two concurrent solo exhibitions: “What Death Does” at The Boiler in Brooklyn and “You Are Me.” at Pierogi in Manhattan, both curated by David E. Stone. The opening reception for “What Death Does” will be held at The Boiler on Thursday, February 21st from 6-9 pm. The opening reception for “You Are Me.” will be held at Pierogi on Saturday, February 23rd from 6-8 pm, with the artist in attendance at both events.

Stephen Kaltenbach is a pioneer of American Conceptual art, first active in New York during the 1960s and, from 1970 to the present, in Northern California creating works as one of his personas, Regional Artist. While in New York, in just three short years, he was busy producing a prolific body of vast and diverse work which challenged the limits of what can be considered art and how it could and should be exhibited. This vast array includes: Time Capsules, minimal sculpture, room constructions, kitsch paintings (attributed to another artist, Es Que?), rainbow buttons, half dollars cast in his own blood, bronze sidewalk plaques, and more. Kaltenbach placed a series of twelve anonymous advertisements in Artforum magazine between November 1968 and December 1969 consisting of phrases that he wrote which he privately referred to as “micro-manifestos.” The last ad cryptically was “You Are Me.”

The exhibition “You Are Me.” at Pierogi is an exploration of that energy and output. It is a survey of new work, re-examinations of classic work, and a focus on authorship, multiple personas, anonymity and authenticity, that demonstrates that Kaltenbach’s artistic oeuvre is as fresh and relevant today as it was in 1969.

“Kaltenbach’s departure [from the NYC art world in 1970] marked a rupture shot through with refusal and a defiance that critiqued the art establishment’s self-perceived exceptionalism. In one sense, it was a sharp break with the life and reputation he had built: He dramatically designated the action ‘Kill My Career.’ He was punk minus the anger, if such a thing exists. But Kaltenbach’s withdrawal to the margins was also a specific, premeditated art action integral to the development of his larger artistic project. …By dropping out, Kaltenbach was beginning a new, much larger and more radical, life-size art action.” He calls what he has done during this period …”the Elephant Project, 1970–, so named for its dizzying size and protracted, ongoing life span (forty years and counting).” (Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, Artforum)

While most of Kaltenbach’s work is optimistic and occasionally humorous, there is another more somber side to some of his work. One could think of his Time Capsules as being tombs. Many of his works refer directly to death and morbidity like his “Bury with the Artist” time capsule or his “Coffin Cam Drawing.”

“What Death Does” at the Boiler features the premier installation of a three dimensional realization of Kaltenbach’s drawing of the same name. This includes a full-scale living room with no ceiling or roof, allowing rain to flow freely into the room and its furnishings, ultimately destroying its contents. Supplementing this work will be the original drawing, prints, time capsules, and other works that focus on the eventuality of death, all in the tomb-like environment of the Boiler exhibition space.

In writing about Kaltenbach’s Time Capsules, Daniel Byers (Curatorial Fellow at the Walker Art Center) wrote in the catalog for The Quick and The Dead, “Time Capsules, and their attendant acts of burial and excavation, also force a reckoning with death, confounding aging and decay with their timelessness and material preservation.”

Stephen Kaltenbach has exhibited nationally and internationally including several definitive exhibitions of conceptual/minimal art including: “Live In Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form” (Harald Szeemann) Kunsthalle, Berne, Switzerland; “Information” (Kynaston L. McShine) Museum of Modem Art, New York, NY; “Earthworks” Dwan Gallery, New York, NY; “9 at Leo Castelli” (Robert Morris); “KONZEPTION–CONCEPTION” Stadtisches Museum, Leverkusen (Konrad Fischer/Rolf Wedewer); “Between Man and Matter: Tokyo Biennale” (Yusuke Nakahara) Tokyo; “955,000: Vancouver Show” Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (Lucy R. Lippard); “1965-1975: Reconsidering the Object of Art” (Ann Goldstein/Anne Rorimer) Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; “The Quick and The Dead” (Peter Eleey) Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; “1969” PS1, New York, NY; “Under the Big Black Sun” (Paul Schimmel) MOCA, Los Angeles, CA; “State of Mind” (Constance Lewallen/Karen Moss) Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA and Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA; “ENDS OF THE EARTH: Land Art to 1974” (Philipp Kaiser/Miwon Kwon) MOCA, Los Angeles; “When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013” (Germano Celant) Foundazione Prada, Venice, Italy; “Materializing ‘Six Years’” Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art” (Catherine Morris/Vincent Bonin) Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; and many others.

Stephen Kaltenbach has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, CA, Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz, Poland, and numerous galleries in the United States and Europe.

Kaltenbach’s work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA, Kroeller-Mueller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands, Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz, Poland, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Evanston Museum of Art, IL, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, as well as multiple private collections.