Craig Kalpakjian
Last updated 05.04.2024 11:29 UTC


Solo exhibitions


  • Broken Waves Sky, Good Weather, Chicago
  • Kai Matsumiya Gallery, New York
  • 2021

  • Oreilles Internaxionales, Basel
  • 2020

  • Kai Matsumiya, New York
  • 2017

  • Kai Matsumiya, New York
  • 2004

  • Galerie Edward Mitterrand, Geneva
  • If You See Something, Say Something, Gallery 2, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
  • M-Projects, Paris
  • 2002

  • Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
  • 2000

  • Robert Miller Gallery, New York
  • 1998

  • Robert Miller Gallery, New York
  • 1997

  • Gallerie Nelson, Paris
  • 1995

  • Galerie Analix, B & L Polla, Geneva
  • 1990

  • Magnascanner 3000, Project Room, Paula Allen Gallery, New York
  • Selected group exhibitions


  • The Commercial Show, Oreilles Internaxionales, Basel
  • Art Basel OVR:2021; Feb 9-12
  • 2021

  • “Missing Target”, Kai Matsumiya, New York
  • Greene Naftali Gallery, East Hampton, NY
  • From Disco to Disco, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York
  • 2019

  • Distance of the Moon, Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH
  • Standalone, Craig Kalpakjian & Andrew Ross, Kai Matsumiya, New York
  • In Real Life: Koenig & Clinton
  • Carriage Trade, New York
  • 2018

  • Photography to End All Photography, Kunstmuseum Brandts, Odense, Denmark
  • Walking Point, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York
  • 2017

  • Truth Bistro, Kai Matsumiya, New York
  • 2016

  • The Sun Placed in the Abyss, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH
  • Don't Make a Scene, Kai Matsumiya, New York
  • Foundation Barbin, Kai Matsumiya, New York
  • 2015

  • An Expanded Field of Photography, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA
  • Works on Paper, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York
  • 2014

  • Vertigo, Joe Sheftel Gallery, New York
  • The Optical Unconscious / Das Optische Unbewusste, Organized by Bob Nickas, Gebert Foundation, Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland
  • 2013

  • Drone: The Automated Image, Le Mois De La Photo a Montreal, Vox centre de l'image contemporaine, Montreal
  • 2012

  • After Photoshop: Manipulated Photography in the Digital Age, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • Blind Cut, curated by Jonah Freeman and Vera Neykov, Marlborough Chelsea Gallery, New York
  • 2011

  • 14 & 15, 885 Third Ave, New York
  • Entertainment, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York
  • 2010

  • Looking Back / The Fifth White Columns Annual, selected by Bob Nickas, White Columns, New York
  • The Evryali Score, curated by Olivia Shao, David Zwirner, New York
  • 2008

  • Reality Check: Truth and Illusion in Contemporary Photography, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • Digital With Monument, Silver Shed, New York
  • 2007

  • Bring The War Home, organized by Drew Heitzer, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York, and QED, Los Angeles
  • The Happiness of Objects, The Sculpture Center, New York
  • 2006

  • Slow Burn, curated by Jonah Freeman, Galerie Edward Mitterrand, Geneva
  • Middle Ground, Photography from the Whitney Museum of American Art, Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York
  • 2005

  • Vanishing Point, The Wexner Center For The Arts, Columbus, OH
  • The Elated Pedestrian, Champion Fine Art, Los Angeles
  • Out of Place, The UBS Art Gallery, New York
  • 2004

  • Photography Reborn, Ramapo College, New Jersey
  • Villette numérique 2004, Parc De La Villette, Paris
  • 2003

  • Filme: Sarah Morris, Darren Almond, Paul Morrison, Craig Kalpakjian, Haluk Akakçe, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
  • The Affair is Over: photography by gallery artists, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
  • Nown, curated by Michele Thursz, Wood Street Galleries, Pittsburgh
  • 2002

  • Out of Site: Fictional Architectural Spaces, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
  • Visions from America: Photographs from the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1940–2001, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
  • Bitstreams, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
  • Situated Realities, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore
  • 2001

  • 010101: Art In Technological Times, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
  • 2000

  • Scanner, curated by Larry Rinder, CCAC Institute, California College of Arts and Crafts, San Francisco
  • Dusk, curated by David Hunt, I-20 Gallery, New York
  • Architectural Constructs in Contemporary Photography, Julie Saul Gallery, New York
  • NYC Projects, Delfina Gallery, London
  • The Constructed Real, Elias Fine Art, Boston
  • 1998

  • Super Freaks - Post Pop & The New Generation II: Odyssey
  • 1995

  • Derek Jarman, Craig Kalpakjian, Julia Sher, Andrea Rosen, New York
  • 1992

  • The Real Thing
  • 1991

  • Decorous Beliefs curated by Kenny Schachter, Natalie Rivera, New York
  • 1990

  • Devon Dikeou, Graham Durward, Craig Kalpakjian, Paula Allen Gallery, New York
  • Brut 90, White Columns, New York
  • Societal Images, White Columns, New York
  • 1989

  • American Fine Arts, Co. / Colin De Land Fine Art
  • Collections

  • The Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, New York
  • The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
  • The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • Centre Pompidou, Paris
  • Yvonne Force & Leo Villareal, New York
  • Tom Ford & Richard Buckley, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Jane Furse & John Friedman, New York
  • Group Lhoist Collection, Belgium
  • Olivier Renaud-Clémont, New York
  • Sebastian Sainsbury, London
  • Kenny Schachter & Ilona Rich, London
  • Hedi Slimane, Paris

  • craig (at)

    Website design & programming: Alec Mapes-Frances

    Craig Kalpakjian
    Last updated 05.04.2024 11:29 UTC

    Even a small boat typically casts a wide debris field
    Felix Bernstein
    Press release, Kai Matsumiya, 2023

    Craig Kalpakjian’s work unsettles the infrastructures that surreptitiously organize our experience and scaffold our perception. He incisively renders the violent banality of contemporary life visible—forging a diagonal from the cop’s nightstick to linear perspective. His tactics are never wholly transparent but develop through a carefully elaborated language of abstraction that makes use of trusses, plants, robots, and surveillance equipment. For the past thirty years, he has multiplied the definitions of abstraction to encompass an array of alienating realms: bridging the antiseptic emptiness of virtual environments with the flattened geometries of modernism in a crossbreed of J.G. Ballard and Josef Albers. Making some of the earliest artworks to critically take on digital modeling by blurring the line between actualization and simulation, Kalpakjian’s models and devices always have real effects.

    Kalpakjian’s new work shifts his focus to the compositional convention of the horizon line in warped scapes that dismantle any simple delineation of land, sea, sky, and ground. As in his earlier work with queue barriers or spotlights, the “exterior” devices that guide perception are folded into the work. The horizon’s exterior (the horizon of the horizon) is the framing mechanisms that lock the image in place, at eye-level, for the viewer. Kalpakjian skews and cants the frame to disrupt the usual depth cues and unground dimensional stability. These unstable abstractions elicit the wavering of parallax dimensions described in Edwin Abbott’s 1884 fantasy novel Flatland, where three-dimensional objects are flattened onto two-dimensional planes, and to speak of ulterior dimensions is a criminal act.

    Kalpakjian’s “renderings” of virtual space are captured in off-center perspectives, yet a semblance of picturesque serenity eerily remains. The final images, machine painted in UV-pigment on dibond with pencil drawn beneath, look naturalistic at first glance but on closer inspection, the oceans appear to be dark hard-edged planes, and the skies seem to be flat luminous gradients. The frames resemble those of hermetically sealed windows: looking onto a world that is not quite exterior. This chilling viewpoint encapsulates the closed-open circuitry of Kalpakjian’s work, which pushes systems beyond their limit till they degenerate into chaotic feedback loops, infinite regress, or slow death.

    For a body of work conspicuously emptied of figures, it’s important to realize the way Kalpakjian uncannily recapitulates the open-closed boundaries of the body without lapsing into the oceanic sublime of redemptive dissolution. For Freud, the oceanic experience was the confusion of a memory trace of porousness with a fantasy of protection. What of a plastic ocean that precedes and exceeds our desires for meaning, union, and vitality?

    Kalpakjian’s word-scapes are similarly composed but stripped of luminescence and faintly drawn, appearing almost as photographic negatives or muted impressions of the original printed texts. Each work includes two handwritten passages in shapes that advance and recede into an abyss of starkly printed ink. Encrusted messages from Josef Albers, Alfred Döblin, Aldous Huxley, Franz Kafka, Philip Larkin, Elissa Marder, Marcel Proust, Ad Reinhardt, and Adalbert Stifter reflect Kalpakjian’s long-standing interest in the political consequences of modernism. An excerpt from The Trial is inscribed in colored pencil across an oceanic plane while a cloud-shaped text floating above describes the ego as a political organization (a quotation from Marder). The danger of the top-down modeling of society is apparent from the Huxley quote, which warns against a “dictatorship without tears,” produced through a pharmacology of enjoyment, inverting the more commonly imagined Orwellian disciplinary dystopia. Perhaps the algorithm is the ultimate incarnation of tear-free control which continuously resets the horizon as we blink.

    The psychic machinery of Kalpakjian’s work is illuminated by such textual passages, which suggest that the ego acts as a horizon line dividing the unconscious real from conscious reality by administering and enabling the retention of letters and traces. His small heaps of letters forge a kind of “debris field” (to quote Leslie Winer) of symbolic inscriptions. The letters are mapped onto a tight linear grid, itself derived from a virtual diagram. There’s an irresolvable push-pull between the surface of the letter and the depth of the image in a paradoxically precise amorphousness: legible but scarcely readable.

    Kalpakjian’s framings often produce a dialectical tension between blocking and permitting flows of energy, whether through bulletproof glass or queue barriers. Are these bulletproof sunsets? This tension adamantly refuses both the permeable splendor of vitalism and the opaque obscurity of the avant-garde. Instead, Kalpakjian invents new frames and devices that display an elastic potential without ever disguising his main vehicle of seduction: an entropic force that pulls the spectator through a vanishing point.

    -Felix Bernstein

    Oreilles Internaxionales
    Joe Bucciero
    Press release, 2021

    Craig Kalpakjian at Oreilles Internaxionales

    The horizon line cuts a perplexing figure. It is at once a visual anchor—a reference point for nautical navigators or perspectival painters—and an abstraction, its distance indeterminate and its apparent flatness obscuring the curvature of the earth. Real and arbitrary, its ultimate effect depends on the viewer’s expectations and conditions of perception. In this sense, the horizon is something of a synecdoche for the work of American artist Craig Kalpakjian, who, for the past thirty years, has pressured those very effects and conditions through prescient, rigorous engagements with both physical and digital media, and techniques of both control and resistance.

    Kalkpakjian’s first exhibition at Oreilles Internaxionales features four artworks that trade in aspects of the horizon’s logic. One of them, an untitled work in UV pigment on dibond, even appears to model a horizon traversing the lower third of an irregular quadrilateral. Beneath the line sits a solid, dark blue plane; above it, a lighter expanse, a subtle flare emanating from below. If Untitled (Natural Beauty #0007) evokes a seascape, it likewise insists upon the horizon’s abstractness—its incommensurability with real-world referents. Indeed, any hint of naturalism, as in much of Kalpakjian’s work dating to the 1990s, derives from computer processes; any perceived space, no matter how immersive, exists only as an image on the surface of its substrate, which, in this case—an odd shape, hung at an odd angle—further heightens the horizon’s shiftiness. Parallel to the floor but skewed with respect to its surroundings, Kalpakjian’s line questions its nominal pretense, i.e., its horizontality.

    Adept at digital modeling, Kalpakjian keeps the techniques and discourses of painting in play. Destabilizing the categories of horizontal and vertical, flatness and depth, his pseudo-horizon pushes Untitled away from Renaissance scenes and toward the modernism of artists like Josef Albers (whose work Kalpakjian explored in his “L7” series of the 2010s) and Piet Mondrian. For Mondrian, horizontal and vertical lines locked together to create a sort of pulse; aimed at plastic and perceptual equilibrium, his matrices nevertheless induced disorientation, too. Two works dilate these pictorial maneuvers, pondering their relevance to contemporary visual regimes and practices. A drawing, Untitled (Linear Wave), displays a deformed mathematical grid, its complexity indexed by its handmade imprecision; a second work in UV pigment, Untitled (Natural Beauty #0003), occupies a traditional square format yet offers a pale, amorphous form, something like a cloud—the sign which, for Hubert Damisch, marks “the limit of representation, of what is representable.” Since the Renaissance, pictures have served to fix power in the form of mapping or registration; as this conjuncture becomes ever-more evident, Kalpakjian identifies alternatives—instances where strategic images meet their limits, break down, fail to lock subjects into place.

    Color Management (RGB), a wall sculpture composed of three automated spotlights and a square truss frame, binds Kalpakjian’s critique of registration to the regulating technologies that enable it. Here, too, function turns to disfunction: the middle light dangles precariously from its “safety cable,” its quasi-organic movements untethered from its programming. The resulting chance color combinations thus materialize as momentary abstractions, less redolent of Albers than his Bauhaus colleague László Moholy-Nagy. While Kalpakjian’s technical détournement seems to liberate the device, the square format still contains the “free” movement, pointing viewers toward the ambient boundaries that persist in what Gilles Deleuze termed “societies of control.” One of this concept’s key interpreters, Kalpakjian enacts perceptual provocations to alert viewers of their societal place. And, as they move through the gallery, viewers of his exhibition find themselves duly contained, their image flattened and mediated by the windowpane for curious passersby—a coincidence that befits Kalpakjian’s characteristic balance of trenchant critique and dark humor.

    —Joe Bucciero

    Reviews: Craig Kalpakjian
    Colby Chamberlain
    Artforum, March, 2021

    Craig Kalpakjian Review [video]
    Rob Colvin
    Arts Magazine, 2021

    Art in Conversation
    Yasi Alipour with Craig Kalpakjian
    The Brooklyn Rail, Issue 199, April, 2020

    A Disqueting Muse
    Linda Norden
    Stories of Almost Everyone; Hammer Museum, University of California, 2018

    Galleries: Craig Kalpakjian
    Martha Schwendener
    The New York Times, Friday Oct. 25th, 2017

    Craig Kalpakjian
    Howard Halle
    Time Out New York, 2017

    Goings On About Town: Craig Kalpakjian
    The New Yorker, Nov 6, 2017

    The Tail Wags the Dog
    Bob Nickas in conversation with Craig Kalpakjian
    Intelligence, Sternberg Press, 2017

    Shit Photographs
    Paul Wombell
    Intelligence, Sternberg Press, 2017

    Event-driven, Open loop, Continuous control
    Craig Kaplakjian

    Kai Matsumiya press release

    The foundational gesture of systems theory is to distinguish an inside (the system) from an outside (the environment).

    ‘Gentlemen’ he would say, ‘collect your thoughts and enter into yourselves. We are not at all concerned now with anything external, but only with ourselves.’ And, just as he requested, his listeners really seemed to be concentrating upon themselves. Some of them shifted their position and sat up straight, while others slumped with downcast eyes. But it was obvious that they were all waiting with great suspense for what was supposed to come next. Then he would continue: ‘Gentlemen, think about the wall.’ And as I saw, they really did think about the wall, and everyone seemed able to do so with success. ‘Have you thought about the wall?’ he would ask. ‘Now, gentlemen, think about whoever it was that thought about the wall.’ The obvious confusion and embarrassment provoked by this request was extraordinary. In fact, many of the listeners seemed quite unable to discover anywhere whoever it was that had thought about the wall.

    Create an experience to be remembered with the ViziBeam Hybrid 2R, the forefront of Moving Head technology.

    Event-driven, Open loop, Continuous control, 2016

    Craig Kalpakjian
    Cabinet, Issue 18, 2005

    Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art After 1980
    Jean Robertson, Craig McDaniel
    Oxford University Press, 2005

    New Philosophy for New Media
    Mark B.N. Hansen
    The Digital Any-Space-Whatever (pp. 209-214), The MIT Press, 2004

    Tim Griffin
    Time Out New York, Issue No. 342, April 18-25, 2002

    Thin Film: translucency and transparency in contemporary art
    Tim Griffin
    arText, No. 74, August-October, 2001

    The Disappearance of The Human
    Jason Oddy
    Modern Painters, Autumn 2000, Volume 13: No. 3, 2000

    Tim Griffin
    Time Out New York, Issue No. 245, June 1st, 2000

    Bill Arning
    Time Out New York, Issue 131, Mar 26, 1998

    Reviews: Geneva
    Lionel Bovier
    Flash Art, Oct, 1995