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The Mattress Factory is an artist-centered museum, international residency program and renowned producer and presenter of installation art. We say “yes” to artists, offering time and space to dream and realize projects in our hometown, Pittsburgh, PA. We invite audiences from around the world and around the corner to step inside, immerse and connect with the artistic process.

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On View

Jene Highstein

Untitled

This play is a reflection on the (im)possibility of accepting diversity and the other. The fragmented body of the neoplasm—the fruit of unstable conditions—overcomes barriers, loves and denies itself and others, wanders around, forgetting its profession. It frequently and with pleasure divides, goes through dangerous palpation, questions the possibility of contact with the experience of the other. Poorly brought up but very successful, it invites us to a trans-species transition.

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More than in most of Highstein's related concrete works, this untitled piece exerts an extreme stress on the situation to the extent that the specifics and immediacy of the encounter subvert any consideration of its metaphorical identity.

Jene Highstein was attracted to this room because the viewer first encounters the space at the end of the hallway from its threshold, and only subsequently enters the room by descending a short flight of stairs. Capitalizing on that brief moment in which the viewer is self-consciously poised before entering, Highstein composed a large concrete ellipsis so vast that it seems to squeeze the space out of the room, compelling the observer back against the walls in order to get a full view of the intruder. Entering the space takes on the character of entering a fray, for the immense form seems almost to grow before one's eyes, at once greedily invading the space and disarmingly, lumpenly, sitting tight. The insistently participatory character of this piece forces the viewer to (re)consider their normal relationships with space, architecture, and concrete form, and to pay renewed attention to their kinesthetic and psychological qualities. - Lynne Cooke

Highstein’s Untitled was installed at the Mattress Factory in 1986 and opened to the public in 1988.

Artist Statement

My sculpture is centered on a continuous search for new forms. Since the work is not derived from images but is rather an evolution of abstract forms which trigger associations with nature, I am always interested in finding confirmation of my point of view in man-made and naturally formed objects.

Stone Age tools, ceremonial objects, and idols fascinate me and are among the sources of materials for my work. The content of my work is not so much abstracted, but a form which is evolved in relation to nature and which carries with it natural associations.

Because of this, my work makes use of natural materials, as they point the way toward the evolving form, and provide a resistance which generates tension. I continue to use man-made materials, such as concrete and iron, because they make it possible to develop new forms quickly while retaining the feel of a natural material.

I use a series of irregular curves to make up the form of my fabricated sculptures. Since the form is made up of these curves, the sculptures seem to resemble forms found in nature: i.e. from one point of view the work may look like a natural rockform, from another an overgrown vegetable, and from another a surfacing whale. The images shift as the viewers change their point of view.  I usually try and make sculptures that maximize these associations, although sometimes it is more powerful to limit them. But these are abstract works, they are not reductions from natural forms.

When

Long-term

1986

Where

1414 Monterey, 3rd Floor

ACCEssibility

Accessible only by stairs

About The Artist

Jene Highstein was born in Baltimore, MD. He attended the University of Chicago and subsequently the Royal Academy Schools in London and the New York Studio School, earning degrees in philosophy and art. An artist best known for refined post-Minimalist sculptures, he favored monumental forms and was adept in a wide range of mediums, including stone, metal, wood, glass, concrete and resin. His work is related to Minimalism but is distinctive in its sensuousness and its use of curving lines and organic shapes inspired by nature.

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