Dan Herschlein: The Architect
September 4 2018 – January 6 2019
In his performances, figurative sculptures, and drawings, Dan Herschlein stages psychological tableaux that evoke feelings of isolation, anxiety, and a fracturing of the self. His life-size sculptural and relief works are meticulously crafted using cast plaster as well as common carpentry materials such as wood, joint compound, and wax. The fragmented spaces he creates suggest the uncanny atmosphere of nightmares, merging markers of domesticity—sofas, tables, recliners, and windows—with human figures or disembodied limbs.
“Dan Herschlein: The Architect” presented a new installation in the window of the New Museum’s 231 Bowery building curated by Associate Curator Natalie Bell. Herschlein’s project joined a new series of window installations that relaunched a program the New Museum originally mounted in the 1980s.
Herschlein’s installation invited viewers to peer through false window frames behind the New Museum’s Storefront Window, calling attention to the act of looking and the way windows function as lenses into private spaces, whether physical or emotional. Beyond the backsides of interior walls, their slats oozing with plaster, a headless figure with a crumpled, sacklike body sat on the ground. A hole in one wall had been torn open, exposing a dark nighttime scene. The figure reached toward a severed arm suspended in the space, underscoring a mood of estrangement and yearning. Like many of Herschlein’s works, “The Architect” alluded to the architectures of the mind and explores how bodies and domestic spaces can serve as vessels of memory, symbols of longing, or witnesses of loss.