The Human Factor: The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture

Hayward Gallery / Southbank Centre, London, United Kingdom
17 Jun 2014 - 07 Sep 2014

The Human Factor: The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture

Yinka Shonibare MBE, Boy in Glob, 2008, Mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton and globe, © Yinka Shonibare MBE, Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman and DACS

The Human Factor: The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture explores the ways that artists have reinvented and redefined figurative sculpture over the past twenty-five years. Tracing the development of a significant shift in recent sculptural practice, it brings together the work of artists who use the figure as a point of departure for exploring a far-ranging social landscape, and for questioning the ways in which we represent the ‘human’ today.

While figurative sculpture might once have seemed like an irrelevant relic, the artists in The Human Factor exploit its untimely status in making work that evinces an acute and subversive sense of history. Works in the exhibition also reinterpret and update moments from sculpture’s past to comment on shifting cultural and social relationships of the present day.

The Human Factor focuses on sculpture that has a distinctly ‘worldly’ character. Works in the exhibition probe our engagement with voyeurism, violence, the commemoration of war and history, and the impact of mass media while drawing on representations of the human body in popular culture. At the same time, much of this work also invites us to pay attention to the particular dynamics of its presentation in the gallery and what we might consider its social behaviour: how it addresses and confronts the viewer, and what kind of looking it solicits. Alternately functioning as a kind of theatrical surrogate for the spectator as well as an object of display, it prompts us to reconsider our own scripted behaviour in the gallery.

The Human Factor encompasses a wide array of recent practices from hyper-realistic figures to sculptures that change over time. A number of the participating artists explore sculpture’s relationship to photographic imagery, including news photos, tourist postcards and personal snapshots.

The exhibition is curated by Hayward Gallery Director Ralph Rugoff and organised by Hayward Gallery Assistant Curator Eimear Martin.

The Human Factor is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring newly commissioned essays by Tate Britain Director Penelope Curtis, art critic and writer Martin Herbert, Artangel co-director James Lingwood, art historian Lisa Lee and Hayward Gallery Director and curator of the exhibition Ralph Rugoff.

Artists: Pawe? Althamer, Frank Benson, Huma Bhabha, Maurizio Cattelan, Urs Fischer, Katharina Fritsch, Ryan Gander, Isa Genzken, Rachel Harrison, Georg Herold, Thomas Hirschhorn, Martin Honert, Pierre Huyghe, Jeff Koons, Paul McCarthy, John Miller, Cady Noland, Ugo Rondinone, Thomas Schütte, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Paloma Varga Weisz, Mark Wallinger, Rebecca Warren, Andro Wekua and Cathy Wilkes



Hayward Gallery
Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road
London SE1 8XX







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