San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
photo: John Hazeltine
Robert Gober: Sculptures and Drawings
June 9, 2000 - September 5, 2000
Organized by the Walker Art Center, this first large-scale overview of Gober's oeuvre juxtaposes more than 100 drawings with examples of his sculpture, illuminating the complex psychological and formal roots of this important contemporary artist's work. Grappling with themes of childhood, memory, loss and sexuality, some of the issues that Robert Gober has explored in his work since the 1980s, the artist explores a variety of mediums that probe the legacies of Surrealism, Minimalism and Conceptualism. Examining the integral relationship between Gober's drawings and sculpture, the exhibition explores the tenacity of the artist's vision, as well as its formal and psychological roots, by looking closely at his unique iconographic archive of subject matter. (left: Untitled (candle), 1991. collection of the artist, NY)
Integral in the exhibition is Slides of a Changing Painting (1982 1983) , a slide-projection installation which clearly foreshadows much of the imagery and emotive impulse of Gober's work for the past 15 years. To create this piece, Gober painted a succession of pictures on a small board during the course of a year. Subtracting to and adding images onto the board, he photographed each image as he proceeded. The end result is a "memoir" of this painting's metamorphosis. The images of this "changing painting" continue to inform the artist's work to this day.
Gober's sculptural works address a variety of formal and humanistic concerns by juxtaposing functionality and dysfunction, and the familiar and the strange. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the series of sink sculptures for which Gober has become well known, such as his right-angle sink Untitled (1984). The sink, a domestically nondescript motif, carries a psychological charge that is at once idiosyncratic and common, mysterious and humorous. The power of this imagery lies in the paradox of the nonfunctional aspect of his sinks; these sculptures suggest the ritual of cleansing while their lack of plumbing frustrates this possibility. Joining this work is another prime example of his "psychological furniture," a distorted children's playpen entitled X Playpen (1987), as well as other domestic objects such as his oversized unwrapped stick of butter Untitled (1993 1994). (left: Untitled, 1984, plaster, wood, wire lath, aluminum, watercolor, semi-gloss enamel paint, collection of the artist, NY)
In addition to these sculptures and installations, the exhibition also features the most comprehensive selection of Gober's drawings ever exhibited. These works from the mid-1970s to the present provide us with a glimpse of the development of Gober's artistic process manifest in his most persistent visual motifs -- the sink, the drain, the playpen, and the body. Robert Gober: Sculpture + Drawing provides the critical link between Gober's sculptures and drawings, while offering the aesthetic and psychological underpinnings to the work of one of contemporary art's most celebrated artists.
Robert Gober was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, in 1954. He attended Middlebury College in Vermont and moved to Manhattan in 1976. He has exhibited widely since the early 1980s, including solo exhibitions at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris; Dia Center for the Arts, New York City; Serpentine Gallery, London; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Among an array of international group exhibitions, his work has been included in the Venice Biennale , the Whitney Biennial , and in Rites of Passage at the Tate Gallery, London. (left: Untitled, 1990, beeswax, human hair, pigment, collection of the artist, NY)
Robert Gober: Sculpture + Drawing is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, containing more than 100 full-color and black-and-white reproductions of Gober's sculptures and drawings, featuring an essay and interviews with Gober and Richard Flood and essays by Ann Temkin, Curator of 20th-Century Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Gary Garrels, Elise S. Haas Chief Curator and Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Art.
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