Norman Carlberg

Norman Carlberg

Norman Carlberg (full name Norman Kenneth Carlberg) (born 1928) is an American sculptor and printmaker. He is noted as an exemplar of the modular constructivist style.

Norman Carlberg was born in Roseau, Minnesota. He studied at the Minneapolis School of Art and at the University of Illinois before going on to study under Josef Albers at Yale. "Recent Sculpture USA", a 1959 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, featured Carlberg's work. Afterwards, Carlberg taught briefly (1960-1961) in Santiago, Chile. In 1961 Carlberg became director of the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. He taught at MICA until 1996. According to, Carlberg's sculptures are in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Art and Architecture Gallery at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Guggenheim Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Carlberg has also collaborated with important architects on major public projects, such as the Riverside Centre [1], designed by Harry Seidler and Associates in Brisbane, Australia. According to the description of Riverside Centre at the firm's website, the main lobby is fifteen meters in height and "the surrounding floors become mezzanines overlooking this space which has a large centrally placed sculpture by Carlberg and tapestries by Calder." For images, see the "External links" section.


Style: Modular constructivism, minimalism

It is not difficult to see a connection between the rigorous, disciplined compositions of Carlberg and those of his teacher Josef Albers. Carlberg has written: "My style of sculpture represents the movement known as Modular Constructivism, which grew into its maturity and popularity in the 50's and 60's." [2] also lists minimalism as a style category for this artist.

The "modular" aspect of Carlberg's constructions is often readily apparent to the eye. Wiktionary defines a module as "a self-contained component of a system, often interchangeable, which has a well-defined interface to the other components." Carlberg's sculptures often consist of repetitions of such a unit, a basic shape capable of combining with other such elements in various ways - somewhat in the way a composer such as Bach or Webern might compose a piece of music by exploring the combinatorial possibilities of a single motivic cell, working within implicit constraints. At Yale, Erwin Hauer was an important influence who prodded Carlberg in this stylistic direction. While both sculptors often employ curvilinear forms as modules, Carlberg more often than Hauer has also used relatively geometric, hard-edged design units, often combining curves with straight edges (or flat planes) in the same module. His prints, mostly dating after 1970, show a similar preoccupation with precision, simplicity, and modularity. Some of these print works are actually groups of prints, placed contiguously together on a wall, with each print conceived as a module. One is invited to rotate or reposition them, allowing the modules to form new composite images. These works position Carlberg as among the earliest practitioners of ModulArt, a co-creative branch of modular art in which the work of art can be physically manipulated to form new configurations.

Occasionally Carlberg combines his minimalistic, modular constructivism with external references, as in one piece, apparently a grim antiwar statement, featuring a flag-draped coffin as the generating 'module', surrounded by mirrors which multiply it indefinitely, as far as the light can penetrate.

See also


[Please note: the primary source of information for this article is the article on Norman Carlberg at, a website maintained by and therefore carrying the authority of the following institutions: the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Enoch Pratt Free Library; Johns Hopkins University; the Maryland Institute College of Art; the Maryland Historical Society; the Maryland State Department of Education; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and the Walters Art Museum.]

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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