STEPHEN ALTHOUSE

Return to Curators' Statements Home

STEPHEN ALTHOUSE
METAPHERN DER MENSCHLICHKEIT – METAPHORS OF HUMANITY
June 14 through October 6, 2018

After spending thirty years as an artist and university professor of fine arts in Miami, Florida, Stephen Althouse (who himself has European roots) now lives and works back in rural Pennsylvania where he grew up and which inspired him artistically. Stephen Althouse’s training is actually that of a sculptor, but in fact he works mainly with the medium of photography. His path from sculpting to photography is coherent and compelling, which is reflected in his extensive international exhibition biography and numerous awards he has received.

Starting with simple materials such as wood, iron or leather, which he combines into sculptures, followed by montages of found objects to the depiction of isolated and arranged things in photography, his work always deals with objects of simple life, the rural culture and agriculture with which the artist was familiar in his childhood. Within his work he poses the fundamental questions of human existence, of life and work, of war and death. It is the modest, the humble things that fascinate the artist – the basic and pure materials, raw wood, simple metal or leather, coarse linen fabrics, primitive equipment, old tools, their banal design that has developed over centuries from their functionality the unadorned surfaces that bear traces of use. They all tell a story that may remain hidden but is clearly perceptible. The artist brings these stories into our time, connects them with others and tells new ones. This process of transformation is also reflected in the methodology of his artistic practice, which is also about transformation. Objects are taken of their original
context and isolated, combined with others, altered and expanded, transferred by photography from their real being into a digital form, processed again, and finally charged with new content as an autonomous work of art in a museum context, to no longer represent merely themselves.
The power of these works is huge and impressive. In the large scale, the archaic quality of the objects and their state of quiescence have quite an overwhelming effect. A minimalist concept, deep black tonality, simple compositions of few objects depicted with restraint and attention to lighting, as well as masterly photographs and particularly high-quality prints lead to unique and unmistakable imagery. Althouse’s works are in a distinctive language and a deeply moving mystical spiritual dimension which penetrates into our subconscious and elicits a response from our innermost being. They give us the feeling of standing in a long tradition, of being links in an infinite chain; at the same time they confront us with our own mortality.

Stephen Althouse is a traveller who has visited foreign countries and cultures throughout his life in order to meet people and to gather impressions, which have also become artistically significant. He has often stayed in Europe, lived in Belgium over a longer period and worked there as a lecturer and artist. He contacted us during a study trip to Klagenfurt. This visit with the stimulating conversations and the Museum‘s enthusiasm for Althouse‘s work, has resulted not only in a fruitful collaboration, but also in the generous donation of two photographic works, now integrated into our collection. We greatly appreciate these works which were exhibited last year in an exhibition of the collection. Sincere appreciation to the artist and to the donor of his works, Rolf Rehe of Vienna.

Christine Wetzlinger-Grundnig, Director
Museum Moderner Kunst Kärnten, Klagenfurt, Austria

 

 

 

 

 
All rights reserved. © Stephen Althouse