Charles Birnbaum is a sculptor and a self-taught photographer. He graduated from Kansas City Art Institute where he studied ceramics and was one of a select group of the esteemed Ken Ferguson’s “ceramic stars.” Charles’s early work questioned the cultural premises and constraints of “craft” by producing postmodern interpretations of ancient European and Asian forms. After doing graduate work at Tyler School of Art, he began sealing, altering and re-contextualizing vessels forms and then began creating abstract porcelain sculptures.
He lives and works in New York City, creating one-of-a-kind gallery and commissioned sculptures that have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the U.S. and abroad and they are in multiple private collections, including those of the design world luminary Hilda Longinotti, Ronald Kuchta, the renowned former Director of the Everson Museum of Arts and editor of American Ceramics, Jack Lenor Larsen's Longhouse Reserve, the Kapfenberg Cultural Center of Austria, and the Museum of Modern Ceramic Art in Mino, Japan. His recent series of wall installations have been very well-received, and he is currently creating a large site-specific wall piece composed of multiple porcelain sculptures.
As a photographer Charles began working in the medium in high school in the late 60’s. Though for the last 20 years he had been concentrating exclusively on his sculptural work, the COVID-19 pandemic changed him profoundly and inspired him to return to the camera. Charles felt photography was the way to express the liminality of his life, that in-between state that’s barely perceptible, that zone we have been feeling between life and death. So in August of 2020 he picked up his camera and began a torrid dive into photography. He found practically instant success in just one year meriting several international awards and the acceptance in 10 competitive exhibitions.