Artist of the Week: Ethan Greenbaum

Ethan Greenbaum is a New York based artist. Selected exhibition venues include Hauser and Wirth, New York; Marianne Boesky, New York, Marlborough Chelsea, New York; KANSAS, New York; Derek Eller Gallery, New York; Circus Gallery, Los Angeles; Steven Turner, Los Angeles; The Suburban, Chicago; Michael Jon, Miami, The Aldrich Museum, Connecticut; and Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. Recent projects include a solo booth with KANSAS at Untitled Art Fair, Miami.

His work has been discussed in The New York Times, Modern Painters, Artforum, New American Painters, ArtReview and Saatchi Daily Magazine, among others.

Greenbaum is the recipient of Dieu Donne’s Workspace Residency, LMCC’s Workspace Program, The Robert Blackburn SIP Fellowship, The Socrates EAF Fellowship, The Edward Albee Foundation Residency and The Barry Schactman Painting Prize. He received an MFA in Painting from Yale School of Art.

portrait by Skyler Brickley

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’ve been in New York since graduate school. Before that I lived mostly in rural Florida. It feels like two different lives. Most of my current work makes connections between the techniques of image making (digital photography, painting, flatbed printing etc) and architectural construction. For me, the work is a way to occupy the surfaces and forms that structure most of my experiences.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I’m finishing up a residency at Dieu Donne where I’ve been making paper casts. I’ve also been experimenting with trompe l’eoil painting, CNC routering, and 3D printing. I’ll be showing some of this at upcoming solo shows at Halsey Mckay, East Hampton and KANSAS, NY.

How did your interest in art begin? Both of my parents are artists working in the craft world. Growing up watching them do this professionally went a long way toward encouraging and normalizing the type of work I do. My father also designed and built a few of our houses which seems important in hindsight. I also saw a lot of art in books and magazines and had very early aspirations as a comic book illustrator. It wasn’t until college that I began to really get excited about the idea of making art in the way I do now (studio art, fine art etc).

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? It depends on whether they were an art world stranger or true civilian. I tell the latter I take photos of architecture.

Do you have any guilty pleasures? Tell us about one. Many of my pleasures are guilty—which I feel a little ashamed to admit. Maybe calorie counting?

What artists are you interested in right now? I keep a running list. Some that I’ve been thinking about lately include Robert Gober, Oliver Laric, Alice Channer, Andra Ursata, Ajay Kurian, Pentti Monkkonen, Lucie Stahl, Richard Artschwager…

What’s your favorite thing about your city? I like the density of New York a lot. On a visual and phenomenological level, there is a layering and texture that gives some of the same pleasure as a forest. The density also allows things to change quickly. That includes being in many different neighborhoods or seeing many different people on any given day. This is really stimulating for me and I suspect it also alleviates boredom and depression.

Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? I really like it when I see people sneakily touching my work.