OK! THIS is my kind of art! Yes, I do love Botticelli, and Ansel Adams, and Sargent, and everyone I write about!
Childhood, memory, loss, and sexuality–these are some of the issues that Robert Gober has explored in his work since the 1980s. Considered one of the most important American artists of his generation, Gober has developed a unique sculptural practice that links many of the issues
underlying Surrealism, Minimalism, and Conceptualism to psychological questions concerning the body and our domestic environment.
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 .
The sink 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.
Mr. Gober stands at the forefront of a generation that emerged in the 1980s and devised new ways to fuse the personal and the political, the accessible and the mysterious. His art is a sometimes subtle, sometimes furious protest against what might be called delusions of normalcy;
the sexual, racial and religious prejudices these delusions engender are examined at their point of origin, the childhood home.
He has communicated these themes in shifting ratios of folk art, Surrealism, Pop Art, Magic Realism and Social Realism, leavened by doses of the body and performance art of the 1970s. There are moments of eerie trompe l’oeil, as in his cast wax legs or torsos with individually applied hairs,
which jut startlingly from walls and corners, like phantom limbs or parts of bodies otherwise crushed by buildings.
Rather than using existing objects or having them copied by fabricators, as many appropriation artists do, Mr. Gober makes all his pieces in the studio, working alone or with assistants. (Even that white plastic crate and those green apples.) There may be countless little imperfections or a
breathtaking sense of perfection, but either way the almost devotional artisanship imbues common objects with an uncommon gravity, along with the sense of energy, growth and vulnerability that defines real bodies.
Mr. Gober has woven baskets, carved wood doors and playpens, and fashioned his signature sinks out of plaster painted with enamel. He has reiterated these forms in deviant versions: slanting and squeezing the playpens into child-unfriendly cages; twisting the doors into knots or doubling
them into cruciforms. Here, one wraps itself around a corner, like a splayed body. He has doubled or truncated his sinks to resemble tombstones, chests or awkwardly joined torsos.
His art includes things as seemingly innocuous as hand-laminated sheets of plywood, as monstrous as a hand-painted cereal box 80 inches tall and as quietly incendiary as wallpaper whose patterns alternate images of a lynched black man and a sleeping white man.
A recent hybrid is a sink with horrifically stretched wax children’s legs looping through the drain and faucet holes: a child deformed by the parental need for purity.
Other symbols of repressive cleanliness include bags of cat litter and rat poison in painted plaster, and cast bronze or pewter sink drains, sewer drains and culverts. A huge culvert penetrates the abdomen of a nearly life-size concrete Madonna that was in his controversial installation unveiled at the
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 1997.
I hope you enjoyed this post!