Some artists evolve beyond the boundaries of a single medium, having significant merit to describe their subject matter in a way that creates new pathways for their work, and for art itself.
Barbara Kasten is one such artist, who employs a simple but unique compositional formula, rooted in abstract constructivism, using only a large-format camera, and more recently, video installations to document photographic landscapes that become something more than the materials alone can convey to the viewer.
Kasten’s body work is an experiment in utilizing the boundaries of light and shadow to create internal landscapes within her photographs that deepen their relevance and significance as fine art illustrations.
Even more unique is Kasten’s path to the works she is most well-known for – images of Plexiglas forms that mimic modernist architecture.
Kasten, a Chicago native, studied painting and textiles at the University of Arizona and the California College of Arts & Crafts. During the 1970’s, she began experimenting with two-tone photograms and the interplay of light and shadow on sculptural elements like mirrors, industrial windowscreen and simple metal framework.
Later, Barbara extended the depth of her compositions by introducing staged lighting and colored gels to better convey the illusion of three-dimensional space that lunges to an audience that is allowed to add their own perspective to her compositions.
Kasten’s work is greatly influenced by Bauhaus architecture and its forward-thinking student, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, who similarly produced sculpture, paintings, set designs, and photographic images using industrial materials and architectural forms as templates for a body of work that redefined abstract constructivism in the late 20th century.