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Preview: Human Factor – The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture

Friday 23 May 2014
Words Lizzie

Hayward Gallery has just announced the first comprehensive survey in the UK exploring the human figure in contemporary sculpture.

Spanning the past 25 years, The Human Factor will bring together major works by 25 leading international artists who have fashioned new ways of using the figure in contemporary sculpture. In addressing the body, the most frequently revisited subject in art’s history, these artists confront the question of how we represent the ‘human’ today. Figurative sculpture may be almost as old as the human body, but it is also as fresh and vital as whatever new approaches, materials, techniques and ideas artists apply to the subject.

Human Factor - Jeff Koons, Bear and Policeman, 1988
Jeff Koons, Bear and Policeman, 1988 © the artist.

The Human Factor focuses on sculpture that explores a variety of social, political, cultural and historical concerns and incorporates diverse references ranging from science fiction to war monuments, from popular photography to art history. The exhibition comprises images of historical and political figures including Adolf Hitler, John F. Kennedy, Dick Cheney and Jesus, as well as hauntingly familiar archetypes and enigmatic symbols of consumer culture. Many of these works also pointedly revisit classical and archaic models of art as well as modernist sculpture and Minimalism. Ultimately, these artists treat the human body as a kind of rhetorical figure, a means for staging and exploring the ways that our society constructs identities, social positions and values.

Artists in the show include: Pawel 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 Schutte, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Paloma Varga Weisz, Mark Wallinger, Rebecca Warren, Andro Wekua and Cathy Wilkes.

The Human Factor: The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture is at Hayward Gallery from 17 June – 7 September 2014.

Featured Image: Maurizio Cattelan, Now, 2004 © the artist.
Courtesy Maurizio Cattelan’s Archive. Photo: Andrè Morin