Barbara Kasten

Collision 3 T, 2017

Digital chromogenic print

Jones Graduate School of Business, McNair Hall, second floor

Made possible by the Jones Graduate School of Business

Although best known for her experimental photography, Barbara Kasten developed her practice

across disciplines, working at the intersection of sculpture, painting, theater, textile, and

installation. After focusing on fiber art in the 1970s, Kasten gravitated towards photography,

making cyanotypes by placing materials directly on light-sensitive paper to create abstract

compositions. In the following decade, the artist continued her innovative approach, initially

making installations in her studio for the camera and subsequently photographing large

architectural spaces. In 1982, she was among the first artists to be invited by Polaroid to use their

new, large-format film. Throughout her career she has experimented with photographic

processes, from Cibachromes to video installations, engaging new technologies in support of her

process-based approach.

Collision 3 T is representative of Kasten’s ongoing engagement with abstraction, light, and

structure. The large-scale photograph is the result of the artist’s careful composition of materials

in a studio set. The process involves the artist moving through the installation, adjusting props,

which must be permeable to allow adjustments and enable the effects created by light, shadow,

color, and reflection, while going back and forth between the camera and her set. In Kasten’s

own words, “I work bodily in the space, moving, touching — I have to be in it.” It is through this

dynamic physical process that she explores qualities of light, space and specific materials, such

as transparent sheets of Plexiglas. The physical immediacy of Kasten’s staged installation is

abstracted through photography, flattened in the translation from a three-dimensional space to a

two-dimensional image, offering a distorted sense of scale as a subtle means of questioning

human perception.

About the artist: Barbara Kasten (b. 1936, Chicago, Illinois) earned her BFA from the

University of Arizona, Tucson, in 1959 and her MFA from the California College of Arts and

Crafts (now California College of the Arts) in Oakland in 1970. In addition to solo shows at

Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany in 2020 and the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of

Pennsylvania, Philadelphia in 2015, Kasten’s work has been exhibited at the Centre Pompidou,

Paris; the Sharjah Biennial; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and the Los Angeles

County Museum of Art; among many others. Her work is represented in various collections

including the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Centro

Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of

Contemporary Art Chicago; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; National Gallery of Art,

Washington D.C.; and Tate Modern, London. The artist lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.