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Barbara Kasten at the ICA Philadelphia

If Barbara Kasten’s colorful, angular compositions look as though they could have been arranged just last week by some prop stylist in Los Angeles — well, consider that a testament to Kasten’s massive, if massively underappreciated, influence. The Chicago-based artist and photographer is currently the subject of a long overdue solo exhibition at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary ArtStages spans five decades of work, from fiber sculptures to cyanotype prints to set design to a brand-new, site-specific installation that plays beautifully with the ICA’s interior architecture. For us, though, the exhibition’s highlight is the 1980s-era Constructs series, for which Kasten photographed theatrical assemblages incorporating elements such as metal, wire, mesh, mirrors — not to mention life-sized squiggles, cones, triangles, and columns made from plaster or wood. Constructs blurred the line between object and image and set the stage for nearly every photo shoot you see on blogs like this one today. Kasten was influenced by the Bauhaus, California Light and Space, and Postmodernism, and the program for her exhibition includes a conversation between Peter Shire and Martino Gamper. Considering the previous sentence includes five of our favorite things, you’ll know where to find us come March 25: on the next train to Philly.

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