Upstate Diary— Lothar Osterburg at Pamela Salisbury and ‘Spillover’ and ‘Promenade’ at Hessel Museum of Art.

This impressive show, Lothar Osterburg: A Celebration of the Small, is actually a very big exhibition filling the Warren Street spaces and all four floors of the sprawling Carriage House annex of the Pamela Salisbury Gallery. Constituting a retrospective of works by the German-born, upstate New York resident, who teaches printmaking at Bard College, the show features dozens of sculptures, dioramas, photo works, films, prints, and a wide ranging series of black-and-white photogravure pieces with images that have an antique feel. He prefers low-tech constructions, although a series of works made of rows of books whose pages are carved out and replaced with dollhouse-like miniature interiors viewed though a glass oculus, are precisionist to say the least. No figures appear in the work, and each piece conjures a rather melancholy and ethereal atmosphere redolent of the past.

Installation view of Lothar Osterburg: A Celebration of the Small, with The Tower of Babel (2023). Photo courtesy Pamela Salisbury Gallery. 

“My work is about memory,” Osterburg explained in a recent artist presentation at TSL in Hudson. Born in 1961, and raised inland in northern Germany, the artist’s first glimpse of the ocean was the North Sea, which made an indelible impression on the budding young artist that has stayed with him  throughout his career. Old ships sailing upon roiling seas appear in many works, and he has created a  series of small 3-D boats in a variety of found materials. Towering architectural structures, such as his monumental sculpture made of paper and wood, The Tower of Babel, constructed on site inside the elevator shaft in the Carriage House, resemble at once archeological ruins and fantastical, futuristic structures—albeit in some state of decay. While the works on view here are clearly very personal to Osterburg, he proposes on some level a sense of a universal past—one without reference to specific incidents or singular moments in time. — David Ebony

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