The Human Factor: The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture at The Hayward
25 August 2014 § Leave a comment
If there is one reassuring constant of sculpture over the ages it is the repeated attempts at representations of the human form. The Hayward has brought together major works by twenty or so leading artists from the last quarter of a century and reflects on how we represent the ‘human’ today.
They suggest that the exhibition ‘pointedly revisits and update classical traditions of sculpture… inventively remixing past and present’ but the visitor would be hard pressed to find the classical here, overwhelmed as it is by more Duchampian reworking of more modern movements. Grouping works thematically, and not always successfully, curator Ralph Rugoff addresses themes like consumerism, physical perfection, violence, religion, sex and death.
Out on one of the terraces Pierre Huyghe has reworked a traditional reclining nude. In place of its head is a open hive, the bees busily swarming around whilst on another Rebecca Warren’s three lumpy women are tall, unrecognisable and totem-like.
Last but not least Paul McCarthy’s That Girl (T.G. Awake) is a diversion from his more familiar lumpy and vivid pink latex grotesques. He has turned to Hollywood experts to create three lifelike casts of the actress Elyse Poppers. Naked, exposed and legs apart they sit on glass-topped trestle tables. They are so disturbingly lifelike it is hard to escape the notion, however impossible, that they will somehow come to life.
There are omissions but to complain about missing artists or the few lesser works would be churlish. This is an excellent overview of the current – pretty healthy – state of figurative sculpture.
The Human Factor: The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture until 7 September 2014
Tagged: Bear and Policeman, Ecco Homo, Edgar Degas, Elyse Poppers, exhibition review, hayward gallery, jeff koons, John Miller, Katharina Fritsc, mark wallinger, maurizio cattelan, paul mccarthy, Pierre Huyghe, rebecca warren, Ryan Gander, Southbank, The Human Factor, Thomas Hirschhorn, Yinka Shinibare