Joshua Neustein (born 1940) is a contemporary visual artist. He lives and works in New York City. He is known primarily for his Conceptual Art, environmental installations, Land Art, Ash Cities, and postminimalist torn paper works and large-scale map paintings.
Neustein was born in Danzig (Gdańsk, Poland). After studying painting at the Pratt Institute in New York City, Neustein immigrated to Jerusalem in 1964. He began to show regularly in Israel and the UK, but it was his 1971 Jerusalem River Project (collaboration with Gerry Marx and Georgette Batlle) action, a site-specific "sound sculpture" in which speakers installed across a desert valley played looped sounds of a river, that earned him more widespread recognition. Photo documentation of the piece was shown at the Israel Museum, Yvon Lambert Gallery in Paris, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MOCA LA, Tokyo Museum of Art, MAK Vienna and MACBA. During the same period, Neustein built an oeuvre of large torn paper works that received critical attention.
From 1964 to 1998, Neustein was represented by Bertha Urdang Gallery in New York and Jerusalem. Yona Fischer included Neustein in several exhibitions at the Israel Museum such as Concept Plus Information and sponsored others such as The Jerusalem River Project. In 1979 Neustein exhibited reconstructed canvases in a solo show at Mary Boone Gallery. In 1970, Neustein began the Carbon Copy Drawings, by marking the stationary with cuts, tears, folds. In 1973-77, he showed at the Yodfat Gallery and Naomi Givon Gallery Tel Aviv.
Neustein enacted "Territorial Imperative", where a dog marked his territory and Neustein documented it with posters and maps. He repeated the action in the Golan Heights at the Israeli/Syrian border (1976), Belfast, Northern Ireland (1977) between the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods, Kassel, Germany for the Dokumenta from which he was expelled. East/West border (1977), and Krusa, German/Danish border (1978). His large-scale installations included quotidian objects such as haybales, boots, pinecones, and rainwater. During the same period, Neustein began a long, innovative exploration of drawing, amassing a large body of work that includes torn and folded works on paper, erasure drawings, and the carbon series. Neustein participated in the landmark Beyond Drawing show at the Israel Museum in 1974, curated by Yona Fischer & Meira Perry Lehmann. In 1977 Tel Aviv Museum mounted a Ten Year retrospective of Neustein's works on paper curated by Sarah Breitberg. Acclaimed art critics Robert Pincus-Witten, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe wrote extensively about the work in 1977-78.
Neustein produced map paintings in the mid-80's, on canvas on rusted metal & cardboards.
In the 1990s, Neustein returned to large scale installation with his series of environmental works, the Five Ash Cities. From that period he worked closely with Wendy Shafir who was alternately his dealer, his curator and collaborator. The Ash Cities were site specific maps of cities constructed out of packed ashes on the floor of the exhibition space. The works were accompanied by crystal chandeliers hung low close to the ash covered floor. The Ash Cities were realized at Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, North Carolina, curated by Susan Tabott, Jeff Flemming and Wendy Shafir; ICC Warsaw, Poland, curated by Krukowski; ICC Cleveland, Ohio, curated by Jill Snyder; Bilder Sind Verboten, Gropius-bau, Berlin, curated by Eckhart Gillen and Amnon Barzel; and the Herzliya Museum, curated by Wendy Shafir. In 1992-3 The Albright Knox mounted a solo show of Carbon Copy Drawings which travelled to the Grey Art Gallery NYU.
"How History Became Geography" was exhibited at the Barbican Centre, London and the documents were eventually displayed by the Israel Museum Jerusalem. In 1995, Neustein represented Israel in the Venice Biennale with "The Possessed Library", curated by Gideon Ofrat. The work addressed issues of archiving and memory. It referenced Giacomo Puccini's Tosca. Neustein surrounded the facade of the pavilion with scaffolding and plexiglas panels etched with book titles. Bubble wrap sacks hung suspended from two large parked cranes, one just above the pavilion, and one dipping in through a skylight in "The Tosca Room". "The Tosca Room" walls were covered in soot, while the floors were covered by plexiglass & terra cotta alphabet. Puccini's famous "E Lucevan Le Stelle" aria was whistled on a sound track. In 1998 The Blind Library at Bet Ariella Library used recycled materials from the Venice Biennale, and a solo show of Magnetic Drawings at Wynn Kramarsky Gallery both curated by Wendy Shafir. In 1998 Drawings of Change in Hanart Hong Kong curated by Manon Slome.
In 1996, Neustein's work was included in The Arturo Schwarz Collection exhibition at the Israel Museum.
In 1998 several environmental works were exhibited in Out of Actions curated by Paul Shimmel at LA MOCA, MAK Vienna, Museu d'Art Contemporani Barcelona, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Japan.
In 2002, the JCC New York, a life-size bronze cast of a tree with terra-cotta colored letters climbing its trunk. In 2004, Neustein completed a video piece titled "Luftkissen", shown at Shering Fine Art, Berlin (2004), and the Haifa Museum of Art (2006). In 2004 he made "What Did I Forget" installation with locomotive gate, polyurethane, bubble wrap, kraft paper.. for exhibition at Time Depot curator Drorit Gur Arie.
Neustein participated in the exhibition titled Dangerous Beauty at the Chelsea Art Museum, which traveled to the Palazzo Delle Arti Napoli in 2007 (under the title Belezza Pericolosa).
Neustein created Margins, curated by Mona Filip, an on-site text-installation with chandelier and plexiglass at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto referencing the writings of Edmond Jabès.
In 2011 Neustein participated in a historic show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art NY Paper Trails curated by Marla Prather.
"Drawing in the Margins", was realized October 2012 at the Israel Museum Jerusalem, showing 67 works that spanned 40 years. The show was curated by Meira Perry Lehmann. A large reenactment of Road Piece 1971 was realized at L.A. MOCA’s To the Ends of the Earth Show curated by Philipp Kaiser Miwon Kwon. The show travelled to Haus Der Kunst – Director Okwui Enwezor.
In October 2012, Neustein mounted a solo exhibition "Boss" at Untitled NY gallery curated by Joel Mesler, Carol Cohen.
In 2013, Neustein participated in the show, The Estate of Lucie Fontaine, in the Marian Boeskey Gallery in New York, curated by Elena Tavecchia, Alice Tomaselli, and Nicola Trezzi.
Rainwater (1968), Boots 1969, Jerusalem River Project (1971), Road Piece (1971) Hay Bales an Hay Bindings(1972),'73, '99, Dead Sea Journey film made from 3 postcards(1971), Mobile Landscape (1974), Territorial Imperative (1976,77,79), Where Are the Miami Indians (1983), How History Became Geography (1990), Still Life (1983), Still Life on the Border (1993), Possessed Library (1995), Five Ash Cities(1996,97,98,2000), Blind Library (1998), Fanning the Fear (2003), What Did I Forget (2004),
Painting and Drawings Earliest works: Oil pastel paintings; torn folded drawings; carbon copy series; text by Barry Schwabsky. Albright Knox Gallery 1992; Grey Art Gallery NYU 1993. Jeremy Gilbert Rolfe essay Torn Grey Impermanent. Artforum Summer 1978
Was part of an art movement called Epistemic Abstraction by Robert Pincus-Witten see Eye to Eye: 20 Years of Art Criticism, Robert Pincus-Witten, Paperback 1984)
- Neustein's Rainwater 1968 in which water trickled down a suspended metal tube from roof onto a pan on the floor. Boots Gallery House Jerusalem 1969.
- Boots 1969 (collaboration with Gerry Marx) piles of military boots from armies that passed through Ottoman, Palestine and Israel
- Jerusalem River Project 1971 (Collaboration with Gerard Marx and Georgette Batlle.) Sound sculpture of taped water sounds in a dry valley (wadi). Was exhibited in Boston Museum of Fine Arts Earth Air Fire Water in 1971 Neustein was the first to introduce environmental/installation art into the Israeli scene.
- Photo strategies Barrier Piece Israel Museum 1971, Photo Triennale Israel Museum 1975, Arkwright Arts Centre London 1972. Listening to Hay Gallery House London 1972, Sound Sculptures Goethe House London 1972
- Hay Bales 1971 bales of hay and sound tapes of highway traffic, Tel Aviv Museum 1971
- Hay Bales and Hay Bindings Gallery House London UK 1971
- Photo Strategies Israel Museum 1971 Camden Arts Centre London UK
- Sound tapes and video pieces Gallery House London. 1971
- Territorial Imperative Golan Heights, Krusa Denmark, Kassel Germany (commissioned then rejected by Dokumenta 1977) realized in Belfast, Northern Ireland 1976-79
- Still Life 1983 Burnt Airplane; Lebanon/Israel Border. How History Became Geography 1990 Barbicam Arts Centre, London. Possessed Library Venice Biennale 1995 made of soot, books, cranes, alphabet, glass, scaffolds, whistling sounds. 5 Ash Cities 1996- made of tons of ashes and chandelier; SECCA North Carolina; ICC Cleveland; Gropius Bau Museum Insel, Berlin, Germany 1998; Ujazdowsky Palace CCA Warsaw, Poland; Herzeliya Museum Israel. 2 Essays by Arthur Danto Unnatural Wonders Farrar Strauss Geroux 2005; Blind Library Tel Aviv Israel 1998;
- "Joshua Neustein". Julie M. Gallery. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- Pratt Institute, New York City
- Art Students' League, New York City
Awards and prizes
- 1970 Erest Prize for Painting and Sculpture, Jerusalem
- 1972 The Jerusalem Prize
- 1974 Sandberg Prize for Israeli Art, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
- 1986 Guggeneheim Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York, New York, USA
- 1990 Grant, The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York