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Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor
Introduction by Ann Temkin. Essay by Hilton Als. Chronology by Claudia Carson, Paulina Pabocha with Robert Gober. Afterword by Christian Scheidemann.
Robert Gober rose to prominence in the mid-1980s and was quickly acknowledged as one of the most significant artists of his generation. Early in his career, he made deceptively simple sculptures of everyday objects--beginning with sinks and moving on to domestic furniture such as playpens, beds and doors. In the 1990s, his practice evolved from single works to theatrical room-sized environments. In all of his work, Gober's formal intelligence is never separate from a penetrating reading of the socio-political context of his time. His objects and installations are among the most psychologically charged artworks of the late twentieth century, reflecting the artist's sustained concerns with issues of social justice, freedom and tolerance. Published in conjunction with the first large-scale survey of the artist's career to take place in the United States, this publication presents his works in all media, including individual sculptures and immersive sculptural environments, as well as a distinctive selection of drawings, prints and photographs. Prepared in close collaboration with the artist, it traces the development of a remarkable body of work, highlighting themes and motifs that emerged in the early 1980s and continue to inform Gober's work today. An essay by Hilton Als is complemented by an in-depth chronology featuring a rich selection of images from the artist's archives, including never-before-published photographs of works in progress.
Robert Gober was born in 1954 in Wallingford, Connecticut. He has had numerous one-person exhibitions, most notably at the Dia Center for the Arts, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Schaulager, Basel. In 2001, he represented the United States at the 49th Venice Biennale. Gober's curatorial projects have been shown at The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; The Menil Collection, Houston; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He lives and works in New York.
Ann Temkin is an American art curator, and currently the Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Hilton Als is an American writer and theater critic who writes for The New Yorker.
Claudia Carson is archivist and registrar to Robert Gober.
Paulina Pabocha is Assistant Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art.
Christian Scheidemann is the Senior Conservator and President of Contemporary Conservation Ltd.
"Untitled" (1991) with "Forest" (1991) in background are reproduced from Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
The New Yorker
The heart is an excitable physical organ that registers sensations of fight or flight and of love or aversion: the first and last unimpeachable witness to what can't help but matter, for good and for ill, in every life.
In the mid-1980's Robert Gober began to receive significant art-world attention for his sculptres of everyday domestic objects embedded with references to social justice, freedom adn tolerance. The oblique works offers a socio-political and psyhcological end-of-the-twentieth-century context to their mundane formal structures.
The New York Review of Books
What claims our attention is not so much Gober's quotidian subjects as the intentness with which he reconstitutes ordinary objects; this is his way of possessing them. Gober's laconic perfectionism lends humdrum stuff an eeriness. I feel that eeriness in teh subtle shadow play he reveals in his plainly carpentered cloest, in the delicacy of human hairs inserted into the wax surface of a sculpted leg, and in the trompe l'oeil finesse with which he paints the label on the battered Benjamin Moore can. Gober keeps his virtuosity tamped down adn under wraps. His weird world is constructed with teh meticulousness of a jeweler putting together a Faberge egg.
27th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists for LGBT Nonfiction.
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FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 12/15/2014
"I don't remember which came first, the sinks or the dream. But I remember having a dream in which I found a room in my home that I had never known existed. It was full of daylight streaming in through open windows, and there were white porcelain sinks hung on all of the walls with their taps running... It seemed that every other day someone I knew or someone that a friend of mine knew was getting severely sick, really fast, and most of them were gay men. Young men were dying all around me, from causes unknown, and the world seemed to be either in denial or revulsion. The government lied to the people and shrank from its duty. Families abandoned 'loved ones.' Even the church abdicated its responsibility to life. Gay men were left, more often than not, to take care of their own. It was a situation that is very hard to create in words. So when I am asked to look back and to 'explain' my sculptures of sinks, this situation reasserts itself. What do you do when you stand in front of a sink? You clean yourself. I seemed to be obsessed with making objects that embodied that broken promise." Join artist Robert Gober, quoted above, in conversation with MoMA Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture Ann Temkin at the New York Public Library Tuesday, December 16 from 6-8PM. Featured image, "Two Partially Buried Sinks" (1986-87), is reproduced from Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor, which Gober will sign after the talk. continue to blog
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/3/2014
"Whenever I give a talk about my work I am invariably asked about who my influences are. Not what my influences are, but who. As if the gutter, misunderstandings, memories, sex, dreams, and books matter less than forebears do. After all, in terms of influences, it is as much the guy who mugged me on 10th Street, or my beloved dog who passed away much too early, as it is Giotto or Diane Arbus." Featured image, of the installation "Untitled" installed at the Dia Center for the Arts, New York, in 1992, as well as this quotation of Gober by essayist Hilton Als, are reproduced from Robert Gober: The Heart is Not a Metaphor, published to accompany the major retrospective opening this weekend at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.. continue to blog
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/5/2014
"A sink that splays out in two halves. A playpen at a vertiginous pitch. A wax torso, half male and half female. A man's leg emerging from a woman's groin. A bag of diapers atop a bronze 'Styrofoam' block. No matter how startling the imagery, Gober's universe is always clearly legible and makes itself readily available to understanding. This is especially true of the hand-holdable works that he produces alongside his large-scale sculptures. Intimate in mood as well as scale, these are produced in small editions of unique objects, a seeming paradox that means that the items are individually handmade yet nearly identical. Unlike the larger works but like most of Gober's prints, these multiples are always direct replicas of their sources. They indulge the artist's predilection for the lost or discarded, and elevate to art things discovered on the street: an empty Seagram's Gin bottle, a Table Talk pie box, a urology-appointment reminder. For Gober these are significant rescue operations, not unlike the adoption of a dog from a shelter. Humble origins are ennobled and abandonment is transformed into the possibility of love." Untitled (2005-6) and excerpt from curator Ann Temkin's essay are reproduced from Robert Gober: The Heart is Not a Metaphor, the illuminating catalog to Gober's current retrospective. continue to blog
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