Janet Passehl
Black flower room 3

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Janet Passehl’s works take two decisive postures (rigid versus soft) that might seem opposed, but they are in fact philosophically similar. In each type of work she has made minimal interventions in, and honored the nature of, her chosen materials—paper and cloth, while implicating the rectangle imposition as containment and restraint.

Working with stiff paper allows her to make hard-edged sculptures that are also fragile and flirt with ephemerality. They indicate both architecture and nature, within and without. The cuts are severe and possibly violent, but they allow the paper to begin to cup like a blossom and flare like petals. The various planes that result are alive to shifting circumstances of light. The exterior of the form makes a shape of the white space around it, creating something from nothing. It is impossible to perceive the sculpture as distinct from what is directly external to it.

One paper piece remains “flat”, the only hint of three-dimensionality manifest by four parallel cuts that very subtly disturb the uniform plane of the surface. Light (its degree of intensity and angle) participates in the realization of the various natures of this work. Larger versions of this piece were exhibited directly on the floor, in the path of raking light from a window at Thomas Rehbein Gallery in Cologne.

In two drawers the artist has chosen fill them with cloth, so that the boundaries of the drawer inhibit the complete spreading out of the fabric. Her motivation was partly to create the sensual experience of opening a drawer and finding it filled with something soft. This may be a bifurcated experience as it is both a familiar event of domesticity, and at odds with the opening of a metal flat file. Each of the draped cloth sculptures were composed with great intention and should remain “fixed”, thus they are housed in black paper trays—so that they may exist in their present form outside the drawers when the exhibition is over. In their black trays, independent of the association with the drawer, they assert themselves as formal arrangements of folds, edges, wrinkles and contingent shadows.

Janet Passehl’s work has been featured in museum and gallery exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe since 1993. In 2013 her folded ironed cloth was included in the major historical survey Art & Textile: Fabric as Material and Concept in Modern Art from Klimt to the Present, organized by the Wolfsburg Museum in Germany. More recently her spare black cloth and paper floor works have been associated with the work of Charlotte Posenenske at Thomas Rehbein Gallery in Cologne and Galerie Gisela Clement in Bonn.

The exhibitions Twice Drawn (Tang Museum, 2006), One More (Rehbein; and Esberg Museum, 2008), and One (Stalke Up North, Copenhagen, 2009), brought Passehl’s work into context with such first generation minimal and conceptual artists as Carl Andre, Robert Barry, Agnes Martin and others.

Passehl’s drawings and cloth works are included in several collections including The Blanton Museum of art at the University of Texas at Austin; The Francis Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs, NY; Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College; Colorado Springs Fine Art Center Museum; The LeWitt Collection, Chester, CT; Stalke Collection, Denmark; and The Laurence Miller Family Collection, Austin, TX.
Janet Passehl (American)
Creation Year
Movement & Style
Excellent. This sculpture is presented flat/horizontal and should be framed accordingly.
2.5 in. H x 20.25 in. W x 8.5 in. D
Dealer Location
Brooklyn, NY
Number of Items
Reference Number
About The Seller
229 Cook Street
Brooklyn NY 11206
(203) 601-6247
1stdibs Gallery since 2015 Located in Brooklyn, NY