Daniel Arsham’s (b. 1980, Cleveland Ohio; lives in New York) multidisciplinary approach to painting and sculpture recontextualizes the relationship between art, architecture and performance. He is best known for his array of lifelike forms, elemental materials and architectural interventions.
In one of his most recent bodies of work, Arsham draws on sculpture from Antiquity for inspiration and uses archeological materials as the medium for his three-dimensional forms. Known as his “Fictional Archeology” series, the artist casts everyday, familiar objects in precious and semi-precious stones and metals, carefully selecting geological materials that inherently convey a sense of time. By visually transforming the cultural objects of our present moment into subtly eroding artifacts, Arsham conflates the past and present, thereby transporting viewers into some unknown time period of the future.
Take as an example, Ash and Steel Stage Set (2014), on view in the artist’s exhibition, Time in Silence, at Hyundai Motorstudio Seoul. This work features a series of cast objects based around the theme of music, presenting eroded sculptures such as a guitar, keyboard, microphone and speakers. These instruments, each iconic in their own right, appear damaged by the passage of time, resembling fossilized items found in a futuristic archeological dig.
Arsham further explores this notion of time and materiality in his latest series of hourglasses, a new body of work that developed out of his “Fictional Archeology” series. Positioned on either end of the hourglasses are the artist’s signature everyday cast objects. Finely crushed crystals fill each hourglass so that when the work is turned, one object is revealed and the other buried. In contrast to his Ash and Steel Stage Set installation which remains static, the hourglasses highlight a more cyclical archeology where objects disappear and reappear, detaching themselves even more from their original contexts. In this body of work, Arsham discovers new ways to emphasize the transitory nature of time, an ongoing narrative that can be found throughout the artist’s practice.
Much of Arsham’s interest in sculpture comes from understanding how objects can serve as a vehicle towards a narrative or identity of a particular culture or time period. When approaching his work, Arsham is continuously in search of our most iconic objects, which best encapsulate the ideas of our society and our history. Arsham’s astounding range of subjects seamlessly come together to fashion a distinct recording of modern life.
Arsham attended the Cooper Union in New York City where he received the Gelman Trust fellowship in 2003. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized at the High Art Museum, Atlanta, GA (2017); the SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2016); the Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, OH (2015); the Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, PA (2012); and Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York (2011). Select group exhibitions and biennials include the Yichuan Biennial of Contemporary Art, Nigxia, China (2016); the OCA Museum, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2015); Musee d’Art Moderne, Saint Etienne, France (2014); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL (2013); the New Museum, New York (2011); the Athens Biennial in Greece (2009); and MoMA P.S.1, New York (2005); amongst others.
Arsham’s practice stretches beyond the visual arts and in 2007, he founded Snarkitecture with partner Alex Mustonen. The architecture collaboration has included work with fashion brands, interior and architectural design, and a complete line of functional design objects. In 2014, Arsham’s “Film of the Future” was born. This production company synthesizes all of Arsham’s creative output over the last decade and creates a visual setting in which his otherworldly and futuristic artwork might exist.