JENE HIGHSTEIN (1942-2013)
Jene Highstein was born in Baltimore Maryland in 1942. He earned a BA in philosophy
from the University of Maryland in 1963. He completed post-graduate work in philosophy
at the University of Chicago and went on to study drawing at the New York Studio School
before earning his Post Graduate Degree from the Royal Academy Schools, London in
1970. In the late 1960s he turned his attention to sculpture, in which he continues to work.
Highstein has received a number of awards, including four National Endowment for the
Arts grants, a Guggenheim Award and a St. Gauden’s Memorial Prize. He currently lives
and works in New York, where he has also taught at the New York School of Visual Arts
as well as NYU.
Highstein describes his work as thinking about “a sense of existence of a thing in the
world which would bring along some of the mystery of our history, our human history…
our common history. Often, Highstein begins with a drawing – dense black shapes which
activate large white fields of paper – which are frequently displayed with the finished
sculptures. Over the course of his career, Highstein’s sculpture has experienced an
evident shift from a great dependency on negative space to a focus on dimension and
fullness. His sculptures focus on the essential nature of form, without distractions such
as color. He has stated, “the square is an ideal form…and I don’t work with ideal forms…”
Thus in comparison to many of Highstein’s minimalist contemporaries, his totemic work
is uncharacteristically human and inviting, addressing the viewer’s most basic emotions.