Thomas Houseago (b. 1972)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Thomas Houseago (b. 1972)

Study for Sun/Moon Figure

Details
Thomas Houseago (b. 1972)
Study for Sun/Moon Figure
Tuf-cal, hemp, iron rebar, wood, graphite and oil stick
116 1/8 x 57 7/8 x 26in. (295 x 147 x 66cm.)
Executed in 2009
Provenance
Zero, Milan.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2009.
Exhibited
Milan, Zero, Thomas Houseago. ODE, 2009.
Carrara, Post Monument: XIV Biennale Internazionale di Scultura di Carrara, 2010 (installation view illustrated in colour, p. 97).
Oxford, Modern Art Oxford and The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Thomas Houseago: What Went Down, 2010-2011 (installation view illustrated in colour, pp. 107 and 238).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Lot Essay

'I try to be honest to the experience of looking and recording... You could argue that sculpture is a dramatisation of the space between your eye and the world, between looking and recording, between that you see and feel and memory. I try to allow as much as possible to happen while I'm working on the piece and yet keep it contained within a single object. That seems to get the most truthful results'
(T. Houseago, quoted in R. Rosenfield Lafo, 'Speaking: A Conversation with Thomas Houseago', in Sculpture, November 2010, p. 29).

Thomas Houseago's Study for Sun/Moon Figure towers over the viewer like a protective centurion; its face shielded by a wooden gladiator mask, its muscular limbs and armoured legs grounded by its heavily planted plaster feet. Circumnavigating the work the sculpture discloses its vulnerability, its back revealing a nervous system of wrought iron, the exposed foundation imbuing a sense of wounded fragility onto the substantial sculpture. Embodying a dramatic return to the figurative form, Houseago's monumental sculptural practice appears to assume a life of its own; the empty hands, palms open, with fingers extended, lending an anthropomorphic quality to the giant. Half man, half iron, the duality of the figure is reflected in the harmonious dichotomy of its title. Created in 2009, the year before the artist's inclusion in the Whitney Biennial, Study for Sun/Moon Figure was included in the Post Monument: XIV Biennale Internazionale di Scultura di Carrara and the artist's retrospective at Oxford's The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology and Modern Art Oxford.

A masterful juxtaposition of materials, Study for Sun/Moon Figure was crafted from raw hemp, natural wood and iron rebar. Houseago abstracts and then reintegrates features; cut from wood and set in relief, the silhouettes of half-moon eyes are defined by their shadows, a further visual cue back to its title. The fibred plaster of the feet underscores the traces of its creation, all of which is reflective of the artist's sculptural process. Purposefully caked in plaster and hemp by spatula or by hand, a process which emphasises the sculpture's corporeality and intentionality, Houseago avoids the refinement associated with traditional casting processes. Sketched across the white panels in the artist's distinctive hand, decisive black lines articulate the figure's rippling muscles, delineating the otherwise abstract form. Employing a transfer technique to apply images onto the flat surfaces, the drawings simultaneously suggest the presence and absence the artist. Just as the exposed iron rebar evokes flesh under the skin, so too does the drawing transform the abstract and monumental into the figurative and individual. As Houseago has said, 'good sculpture really tells you how it's made' (T. Houseago, Public Art Fund Talks, The New School of Design, New York, 12 May 2010, at www.youtube.com. [16/05/12]).

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