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  • Provenance

    Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; Phillips de Pury, New York, Contemporary Art Evening, May 18, 2000, lot 8; Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Paula Cooper Gallery, Group Exhibition, September 17 – October 19, 1991 (another example); Paris, Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume; Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Robert Gober, October 4, 1991 – March 8, 1992, no. 13 (another example); Milwaukee, Milwaukee Art Museum, Currents 20/Recent Narrative Sculpture, March 13 - May 10, 1992, no. 6 (another example); Hamburg, Kunstverein; Lucerne, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Ethik und Äesthetik im Zeitalter von Aids, May 15 – November 22, 1992 (another example); Sheboygan, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Hair, December 6, 1992 - February 14, 1993, no. 14 (another example); Cambridge, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Corporal Politics Louise Bourgeois, Robert Gober, Lilla LoCurto and William Outcault, Annette Messager, Rona Pondick, Kiki Smith, David Wojnarowicz, December 12, 1992 – February 14, 1993 (another example); San Francisco, Haines Gallery, Body Parts, May 4 - June 12, 1993 (another example); Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zimmer in denen die Zeit nicht zählt: Die Sammlung Udo und Anette Brandhorst, June 5 - October 19, 1994, no. 88 (another example); Helsinki, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma/Finnish National Gallery, Ars 95 Helsinki, February 11 - May 28, 1995 (another example); New York, Sean Kelly Gallery, corpus virtue, September 11 - October 24, 1998 (another example); New York, Bronwyn Keenan Gallery, Transfiguration, November 21 - December 23, 1998 (exhibition copy); Minneapolis, Walker Art Center; Malmö, Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art; Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Robert Gober: Sculpture + Drawing, February 14, 1999 – September 5, 2000, no. 95 (another example); Munich, Staatsgalerie moderner Kunst im Haus der Kunst, Food for the Mind: Die Sammlung Udo und Anette Brandhorst, June 9 - October 8, 2000, no. ABB.S.211 (another example); Mount Kisco, The Foundation To-Life, Inc., Exhibition Space, Presence, 2003; Santa Fe, The Fifth International Biennial Exhibition, SITE Santa Fe, Disparities and Deformations: Our Grotesque, July 18, 2004 - January 9, 2005 (exhibition copy); Mount Kisco, The Foundation To-Life, Inc., Exhibition Space, Eccentric Modern, March - August 2006 (another example); New Canaan, Silvermine Guild Arts Center, WaxWorks, September 1 - October 1, 2006 (exhibition copy)
    Purchase, Neuberger Museum of Art, Transitional Objects: Contemporary Still Life, September 17, 2006 - January 21, 2007 (another example); Southampton, The Parrish Art Museum, All the More Real: Portrayals of Intimacy and Empathy, August 12 - October 14, 2007 (exhibition copy); Los Angeles, Fowler Museum at UCLA,  Make Art/Stop AIDS, February 23 - June 15, 2008 (another example);
    Munich, Museum Brandhorst , Group exhibition, May 18, 2009 - Summer 2010 (another example); Copenhagen, Kunstforeningen GL Strand, WAX - A New Sensualism in Contemporary Sculpture, January 29 - May 15, 2011 (another example)

  • Literature

    J. Simon, Robert Gober: Oeuvres Nouvelles, Art Press, no. 162, October 1991, p. 42 (illustrated); J. Simon, “Robert Gober et l’Extra Ordinaire/Robert Gober and the Extra Ordinary,” Robert Gober, Paris, 1991, pp. 23 and 62-63 (illustrated); J. P. Criqui, “Robert Gober: Jeu de Paume,” Artforum, January 1992, p. 115; D. Sobel, Recent Narrative Sculpture, Milwaukee, 1992, no. 6; Ethik und Ästhetik im Zeitaler von Aids, Cologne, 1992, p. 21 (illustrated); H. Posner, “Separation Anxiety,” Corporal Politics: Louise Bourgeois, Robert Gober, Lilla LoCurto and William Outcault, Annette Messager, Rona Pondick, Kiki Smith, David Wojnarowicz, Cambridge, 1992, pp. 26 and 41 (illustrated); J. Simon and C. David, Robert Gober, Barcelona, 1992, p. 72, no. 13 (illustrated); T. Lacquer, “Clio Looks at Corporal Politics,” Corporal Politics: Louise Bourgeois, Robert Gober, Lilla LoCurto and William Outcault, Annette Messager, Rona Pondick, Kiki Smith, David Wojnarowicz, Cambridge, 1992, p. 17; A. Ferris, “Hair and Mourning,” Hair, Sheboygan, 1993, pp. 6 and 31 (illustrated); R. Flood, “Robert Gober: Interview with Richard Flood,” Robert Gober, London/Liverpool, 1993, p. 13, fig. 6 (illustrated); K. Schmidt and T. Vischer, Zimmer in denen die Zeit nicht zählt: Die Sammlung Udo und Anette Brandhorst, Basel, 1994, p. 137, no. 88
    M. Petry, “Abstract Eroticism,” Art & Design Profile No. 47, March/April, 1996, pp. 49 and 63 (illustrated); H. Foster, “The Art of the Missing Part,” Robert Gober, Los Angeles, 1997, pp. 62-63; R. Gober and R. Flood, “Interview,” Robert Gober: Sculpture + Drawing, Minneapolis, 1999, pp. 133-134 (illustrated); H. Foster, “An Art of Missing Parts,” October, No. 92, Cambridge, Spring 2000, pp. 149-150; B. Schwenk, “Robert Gober,” Food for the Mind: Die Sammlung Udo und Anette Brandhorst, Munich, 2000, p. 211 (illustrated); M. Schneede, Mit Haut und Haaren.  Der Körper in der zeitgenössischen Kunst, Cologne, 2002, pp. 110-111 (illustrated); A. Braun, Robert Gober: Werke von 1976 bis heute, Bonn, 2003, p. 241, no. 102 (illustrated); H. Foster, Prosthetic Gods, Cambridge, 2004, p. 322, no. 8.13 (illustrated); R. Storr, Disparities and Deformations: Our Grotesque: the Fifth International SITE Santa Fe Biennial Exhibition, New York, 2004, p. 60 (illustrated); M. Falkenberg and E. Fischl, all the more real, Southampton, 2007, p. 76 (illustrated); T. Vischer, ed., Robert Gober Sculptures and Installations 1979-2007, Basel, 2007, p. 302, no. S 1991.09 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay


    Richard Flood: What was the candle about?
    Robert Gober: I think it was a very neat, wrapped-up symbol of mortality and sexuality. Because you’ve got a candle that is basically the size of a man’s erection, kind of the same color. It’s clearly a candle, but around its base is hair, which gives you the erection pretty clearly. Yet the tip of it is still unburned, which gives you the possibility of igniting. You have the clichéd metaphor of life as a candle, etc.
    RF: And the wick is…
    RG: The wick is actually my venetian blind cord; it was the right scale, so I cut if off and used it.
    (R. Gober and R. Flood, “Interview,” Robert Gober: Sculpture + Drawing, Minneapolis, 1999, pp. 133-134)
    A poignant monument to the AIDS crisis and a metaphor for human loss, Robert Gober’s Untitled Candle has both religious and sexual connotations.  Perhaps no object is as imbued with meaning and symbolism as a candle—a lit candle signifying life, peace or faith while an extinguished or unlit one symbolizes death. Historically symbols of commemoration, the lighting of a candle suggests hope or remembrance. One cannot help but think of the beauty of a candlelight vigil. However, by leaving the wick untouched and interspersing the base of the candle with delicate hairs, Gober is sexualizing and transforming his work into something altogether more profound. 
    Gober’s career was established during the late 1980s and early 1990s at the very height of the AIDS crisis and this is an indelible element in his art.  This work completed just around that time is one of his most solitary and profound works, its own memento mori or vanitas painting. With this work Gober is affirming his community in a time of crisis and creating a beautifully emblematic work that carries multiple layers of meaning.
    There is an overwhelming feeling of desire throughout Gober’s work, one that is always tempered by an undercurrent of loss. The impermanence of a lit candle hints at the fleeting nature of life. However by leaving his candle unlit and the wick untouched, Gober is creating a poignant and permanent memorial. 
    Both graphic and subtle at the same time, Gober creates very unmonumental monuments out of very ordinary objects, each one laboriously handmade and richly laden with meaning for those who choose to seek it. His work comments on violence, disparity and exclusion. Perhaps best known for his disembodied body parts, sometimes nude, sometimes clothed and often inscribed with musical notes, Gober’s art has a profound and unsettling impact on the viewer. His work sheds light in dark corners, opening our eyes to issues within our society that many would sometimes prefer to ignore.  Reminiscent of Bruce Nauman’s wax faces or arms, these works directly reference amputation, both literally and emotionally. The irrefutable phallic shape of the present work certainly hints at a form of both physical, but more importantly, social castration. He hints at a sense of social exclusion felt by so many, particularly the gay community in the early 1990s and more generally to the prejudice that exists within our society. In some cases this feeling of loss or amputation is more distinct such as with his legs or torsos emerging from walls and in some it is more subtle such as with his Untitled Candle.
    There is an element of solitude to his works – a severing from the body and by turn from society. Easily one of Gober’s best known and most profound works, Untitled Candle is a striking votive that offers the poignant memory of loss coupled with the unique hope of remembrance. 

103

Untitled Candle

1991
Wax, string and human hair.
8 1/8 x 4 7/8 x 6 1/2 in. (20.6 x 12.4 x 16.5 cm).
This work is from an edition of six plus two artist's proofs.

Estimate
$400,000 - 600,000 

sold for $458,500

Contemporary Art Part I

8 November 2010
New York