Sister Carrie

Artist: Robert Bittenbender
installation | Mixed media | 813x610x457mm | 2017

Robert Bittenbender constructs dense reliefs using traditional art materials such as paint and graphite, but he also incorporates cheap found objects and detritus picked up on the streets. Although each individual element has been meticulously incorporated into the whole, the overall effect is one of improvisation. The artist treats everything as a potential source of inspiration, so that a wire hanger carries as much potential as paint. Bittenbender’s assemblage aesthetic suggests the influence of artists who came to prominence in the 1960s, including Bruce Conner and Lee Bontecou, both of whom composed refuse and rubbish into three-dimensional works that hang on the wall and protrude into space. Bittenbender avoids bohemian romanticism, instead linking what he calls “a funky East Village garbage aesthetic” to the market forces that frame urban squalor as palatable in order to fuel gentrification. (Collection of Lomex, New York, Image courtesy the artist and Lomex, New York. Photograph by Renato Ghiazza)


Whitney Biennial 2019 | 2019.05.17 - 2019.09.22 | Whitney Museum of American Art(New York City, NY, United States)