Artist Cliff Garten has completed more than fifty sculptures throughout the U.S. and Canada in collaboration with significant architecture, landscape architecture, and engineering projects. While sought after for creating evocative and nuanced site-specific sculptures within the civic realm, Garten also maintains an independent studio practice creating small-scale sculptures and works on paper.
Garten’s artistic approach toward civic sculpture explores the expressive potential of infrastructure. He places his sculpture within the everyday as a way to re-imagine how civic infrastructure might perform beyond its basic function. Garten believes that our infrastructure systems "have done a remarkable job of satisfying our needs, but not necessarily our desires.” The diversity and depth of his civic practice testify to his mastery of increasing the sculptural expression of engineered public structures and places. By connecting people to places through sculptural material, social history, and ecology, his civic sculptures locate the latent potential within a public space.
In recent years, Garten’s sculptural practice has resulted in the creation of finely mastered works on paper. Intrigued by the computer-generated construction drawings used to fabricate his monumental civic sculptures, he selects compositions to be transposed to paper. The resulting digital archival prints capture lines that are rendered so finely that they evanesce, with all the residual force and transparency of an X-ray.
Garten has also developed a private body of work whose subject matter is a corollary to his public practice and is grounded in our human relationship to what he calls "an altered Nature.” The result is a series of studio sculptures, entitled Being and Home and I Love Nature, Nature Loves Me, that mediate the materiality of the way we reside. The installations question how we consume our resources through visual allegories that are as appealing as they are sinister. Just as Garten’s works on paper extend his use of digital engineering technology with surprisingly delicate and refined results, the studio sculptures investigate the conceptual underpinnings of his civic sculptures.
Garten is the recipient of two Individual Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bush Foundation Fellowship for Individual Artists, the Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship, and the Jerome Foundation Travelling Artist Grant. His civic sculptures have consistently been named best in the nation by The Americans for the Arts Public Art Network and have been cited for design excellence by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Garten has served as a visiting critic at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, UCLA School of Architecture, Otis Art Institute, and SCI-Arc. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Landscape Architecture with distinction from Harvard Graduate School of Design. Garten works and lives in Venice, California.
Venice, CA, US , 90291