Karl Haendel, ‘Books with Holes #2 (Fiction and the Vagina)’, 2013, TWO x TWO

Haendel deftly selects images and objects for his meticulous graphite drawings. Here, two library books lean within the paper’s edges, with an actual hole balanced atop one book. Psycho-sexual associations are both overt (the books’ titles, one of which references the Gustav Courbet 1866 painting of a close-up vagina, Origin of the World) and covert (the phallic spine of the book leaning towards the hole in the paper).

Likening his process to that of a political commentator or editorialist, Karl Haendel deftly selects images and objects for his meticulous graphite drawings. Here, two library books lean within the paper’s edges, with an actual hole balanced atop one book. Psycho-sexual associations are both overt (the books’ titles, one of which references the Gustav Courbet 1866 painting of a close-up vagina, Origin of the World) and covert (the phallic spine of the book leaning towards the hole in the paper). The piece functions simultaneously on a number of levels - as a humorous meditation on sex, an abstract composition of geometric shapes, and a play on the two-dimensional surface in art. Karl Haendel has had solo exhibitions at Lever House, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City. Haendel’s work has recently been exhibited at United Artists Ltd., Marfa; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the New Museum, New York; The Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the 2008 California Biennial; and Prospect 2, New Orleans Biennial.

About Karl Haendel

Karl Haendel is known for meticulous pencil drawings based on appropriated photographs. He is interested in investigating the properties of photography—inverting tones, scaling, and flipping images—but he prefers the slowness of drawing. “Photography becomes a tool, like a paintbrush […],” he explains, adding, “The ability to play with images is fundamental.” In 2011, he worked with filmmaker Petter Ringbom to create Questions for My Father, a film based on drawings Haendel made in 2007, such as Questions for My Father #2, that explore notions of masculinity.

American, b. 1976, New York, New York, based in Los Angeles, California

Exhibition Highlights

2017
2017
Mitchell-Innes & Nash at fiac 17