Larry Kagan, Master of Shadow Art, Mystifies With The Impossible At Montclair Art Museum

Larry Kagan

Larry Kagan’s exhibition, now at Montclair Art Museum through January 5, 2020, stops you in your tracks.

Kagan reproduces images as shadows by projecting light through chaotic welded metal sculptures attached to the wall. He uses the medium of light, darkness, positive and negative space to project thick, thin, sharp lines, deep and soft shades of gray and black producing silhouettes of instantly recognizable subjects.

Oxford, 2011
Steel and Shadow
39×35913 in

Kagan explained his ability to dissect the world in multiple dimensions.

“I’ve been doing this since I was a child, playing with finger shadows” he says. Inspired by contemporary culture and images from the New York Times, Kagan sketches an image, then creates a montage of steel – twisting and welding piece by piece – until its shadow replicates the original image – perfect and precise. If art could define magic, this is what it would look like.

Barack, 2013
Steel and Shadow
51x28x14 in.

The intriguing show exhibits a total of 21 works, including such mundane objects as a patent leather shoe, a cup and saucer, and a chair, all elevated to the extraordinary. There’s a striking image of Andy Warhol, which he says took about 250 hours to complete. You’ll see two unmistakeable images of Barack Obama, a Degas’ little ballerina, and Durer’s iconic Hare. Kagan commemorates family members lost in the Holocaust with “Cousin Rose,” and created his own self portrait. Kagan’s mesmerizing art is accessible to everyone. It need to be seen to be believed, because it seems “Impossible”.

Kagan has been sculpting for more than 40 years. Kagan’s studio is in New York City and also in Troy, NY where he taught art at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He now resides in California. This is Kagan’s first solo exhibition in New Jersey.

Don’t miss MAM Conversations: The Art of Visual Perception (Thursday, October 24, 2019, 7:00 pm; FREE for members/ $15 nonmembers/ $5 students with ID).

During this 33rd Annual Julia Norton Babson Lecture, Larry Kagan will be joined by Dr. Brian Scholl, Professor of Psychology at Yale University to discuss how the mind constructs our visual world, specifically how we make sense of Kagan’s amazing abstract sculptures. Q&A and book signing with Larry Kagan to follow discussion.


Montclair Art Museum, 3 South Mountains Ave, Montclair. Open 12-5, Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Click here to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.