all works (download exhibition list)
Composition with Ornament and Object:  20 x 16 inches | edition of 6
Hoods: 28 x 20 inches | edition of 6


catalogue available

Detroit based Lauren Kalman‘s But If The Crime Is Beautiful…. is an ongoing project that is a hybrid of functional objects, craft objects, sculpture, photography, video, and installation. Consisting of fabricated and found objects combined with the body to produce sculptural compositions, these sculptures are then documented to exist as photographs.

The title of the series, But if the Crime is Beautiful…, is derived from Adolf Loos’ 1910 lecture Ornament and Crime. With “but if the ornament is beautiful” he is referring to the naive (in his view) population’s defense of ornament as long as it is beautiful. His proposition is that ornament is regressive and primitive, and that in his contemporary society only degenerates and criminals are decorated, including women. The “crime” in Kalman’s work points not only to the decorated but also to deviant sexuality and female sexuality, especially 19th and early 20th century constructions, which our currently understanding of sexuality is built upon. Loos’ writings on architecture and functional art helped to define the principals of the Modern Architecture movement and eventually the Bauhaus. The influence of these movements permeates the contemporary built environment and therefore impacts our psychological and bodily relationship to space and objects.

Lauren Kalman

Lauren Kalman is a visual artist whose practice is invested in installation, video, photography and performance. Through her work she investigates perspectives of beauty, body image, value, and consumer culture. Raised in the Midwest, Kalman completed her MFA in Art from the Ohio State University and earned a BFA with a focus in metals from the Massachusetts College of Art. She has taught at institutions including Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI. She currently lives in Detroit and is a Professor at Wayne State University. She exhibits and lectures internationally. Her work had been featured in exhibitions at venues including the Centro Cultural Recoleta, Museum of Contemporary Craft, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, and the deCordova Museum. Her video work has also been screened in several international film festivals. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the Musuem of Fine Arts Boston and the Smithsonian Musuem of American Art among others.

LAUREN KALMAN | but if the crime is beautiful…
part 1 | composition with ornament and object
part 2 | hoods


Lenox MA, SG Press, 2014.
7 x 9 in, color photographs, 72 pages, soft cover
Essay by Brienne Walsh, English
edition of 200.

Consisting of fabricated and found objects combined with the body to produce sculptural compositions, these sculptures are documented and exist as photographs. The objects used to make the compositions are installed with the photographs as as residue of the action. The included essay by Brienne Walsh explores this Detroit artist’s current body of work.

Brienne Walsh is a writer and photographer who contributes essays, criticism and travel writing to publications such as The New York Times, The Village Voice, Art in America, Interview, ArtReview, Architectural Digest, Modern Painters, Rangefinder, PDN and Paper, among other publications. She is currently working on a book of essays.