Nils Karsten was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1970. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, USA. Karsten’s work is mainly comprised of his woodcut prints and the carved woodblocks themselves, pencil drawings, and collage work. The artist takes inspiration from “found images” of band record covers, propaganda, photos, and other images originally claimed by the political or the social. The process of his work is the reclamation of those images of influence through cutting, carving, moving things around, and gluing. In harmony with his inspiration from these images, Karsten also uses feedback of the senses, such as a sound or a texture, as a starting point for his work. Having received education as a cabinetmaker, as well as receiving a BFA in painting at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1999 and a MFA in painting from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2003, Karsten is able to employ many mediums in his works.
Categorised as mixed media or illustration, the lines of each medium are often blurred on paper. They flow into each other much like distinct thoughts flow together in the mind, as Karsten said, “I ‘think’ in collages.” This sensual aspect of his inspiration, auditory or visual or the like, mixed with the intangible social and political influence of his inspirations creates a stage for the narration of a modern myth.
Selected solo shows include Nils Karsten (2015), Zipper Gallery, São Paulo, Brazil; Suburbia Hamburg 1983 (2012–13), Churner and Churner, New York, USA; 1969, 1970, 1971 (2011), The Bogart Salon, Brooklyn, USA; Can’t Find my Way Home (2011), Illuminated Metropolis, New York, USA; Collagen & Zeichnungen (2010), Anke Richter Galerie, Friedrichstadt, Germany; and Heaven Has No Happy Ending (2006), Marvelli Gallery, New York, USA; 60 Seconds in Heaven (2005), Marvelli Gallery, New York, USA. Karsten’s works have been recently featured in the following publications: The Last Picture Show (The New Yorker, 2014), Best in Show: Gone Vicious (The Village Voice, 2013), Out of Heaven (Figaro Japon, 2004), 60 Seconds in Heaven (Artforum 2004), and Deliberate Irreverence (Los Angeles Times, 2004).