Haim Steinbach

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. | On Art and Display: Curators in Conversation with Haim Steinbach
October 21, 2020

Israeli-American artist Haim Steinbach joins Hirshhorn curator-at-large Gianni Jetzer for a discussion on the intersection of art and curating, looking closely at the artist’s decades-long practice of exploring values and meanings created with the display and arrangement of found objects.


Since the late 1970s, Steinbach’s art has explored the cultural and aesthetic aspects of collecting and arranging already existing objects. His work engages the concept of “display” as a form that foregrounds found items, raising consciousness of the play of presentation. Steinbach selects and arranges objects—which range from the natural to the ordinary, the artistic to the ethnographic—investigating their meaning and associations. An important influence in the growth of post-modern artistic dialogue, Steinbach’s work has radically redefined the status of the object in art.


Steinbach has had a long career of curating his own work and that of others. For a 1980 exhibition, Changing Displays—an assemblage of objects the artist found discarded across neighborhood streets in South Bronx—he acted as artist and curator, adding items to and removing items from the installation over the course of a month. At the 2019 Art Basel in Miami Beach, Steinbach organized a powerful group show displaying works by artists such as Alfredo Jaar, Marina Abramović, Vanessa Beecroft, and William Kentridge.


The Hirshhorn’s Curators in Conversation series focuses on creativity: what inspires curiosity, motivates imagination, and produces meaning. Since its inception in 2014, the series has invited inspiring speakers such as Massimiliano Gioni, Lynne Cooke, Sarah Thornton, Philip Kaiser, and former Hirshhorn director James Demetrion to discuss current topics in the greater art world. For this subseries of dicussions, Artists Select invites artists who have curated recent or inspiring exhibitions and installations, to offer ways of viewing and experiencing art through their unique artistic lens.