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  • Provenance

    Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
    Richard and Barbara Lane, New York (acquired from the above in 1995)
    Sotheby's, New York, 15 November 2001, lot 263
    Private Collection
    Sotheby's, New York, 12 May 2009, lot 1
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Dia Center for the Arts, Robert Gober, 24 September 1992 - 23 June 1993, p. 20, p. 30, p. 47 and p. 57 (another example illustrated and exhibited)
    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Into a New Museum: Recent Gifts and Other Acquisitions of Contemporary Art, Part II, 1995
    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Between Art and Life: The Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Collection, 1 July - 4 September 2004

  • Literature

    Marina Gržnic, 'Robert Gober: Come, come into the traumatic space of reality' in Robert Gober, exh. cat., Galerija Dante Marino Cettina, Umag, 1995, p. 27 (another example illustrated)
    Maureen P. Sherlock, 'Decoy: Displacements of Loss and Hope,' in Lynne Cooke and Karen Kelly, eds., Robert Lehman Lectures on Contemporary Art no. 1, New York, 1996, pp. 110-111
    James Romaine, 'Closer to Heaven: The Art of Robert Gober', IMAGE: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, 2000, pp. 30-31 (another example illustrated)
    Robert Haywood, 'Robert Gober's Virgin and Drain', Thresholds, no. 23, 2001, pp. 41-42 (another example illustrated)
    George Howell, 'Object/Installation: The Two Sides of Robert Gober', Sculpture Magazine, vol. 20, no. 5, June 2001, p. 43 (another example illustrated)
    Hal Foster, Prosthetic Gods, Cambridge, 2004, p. 333
    Robert Gober: The Meat Wagon, exh. cat., The Menil Collection, Houston, 2005, p. 16, p. 27, p. 32, p. 37 and p. 49, (another example illustrated)
    Theodora Vischer, Robert Gober Sculptures and Installations 1979-2007, Basel, 2007, cat. no. S 1992.04, p. 317 and pp. 309-311 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    A hand crafted sculpture that seeks to replicate everyday objects, Robert Gober’s Rat Bait, 1992, encapsulates the artist’s divergent processes of articulating the fundamental differences between mass produced manufactured objects and hand crafted artworks. Exclusively created for the artist’s installation at the DIA Center for the Arts in New York, another from the edition of 10 sits in the esteemed collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. A complex work in Gober’s creative output, the work is a reflective example from his analytic body of contemporary sculpture.

    Championing a return to figurative art, Robert Gober is one of the most recognised artists to emerge from New York in the 1980s. Exploring the banalities of life, Gober’s work takes the form of sculptural installations based on common objects to question the domesticity of the day-to-day, reflecting on the ready-made objects of Conceptual art pioneer Marcel Duchamp. Rendering facsimile sculptures of existing forms, Gober establishes a complex visual vocabulary between the surreal and the commonplace, projecting his imagination onto prevailing objects.

    Though Rat Bait appears to be an appropriated object, a box of rat poison, it is in fact laboriously handmade with wax, plaster and paint; the artist adeptly casts, moulds, pours and forms every element of his sculptures. This work plays on Gober’s desire to arouse a sense of recognition or familiarity in the viewer, presenting the common object within a different context, altered in scale, colour and material. Rat Bait’s uncanny familiarity is disturbing and intriguing, its ready-made appearance reflecting Gober’s continuous interest in simulating reality.

    Ritualising everyday life, Rat Bait belongs to a body of sculptural works by an artist who has consistently presented our daily habits and rituals back to us, teaching us about ourselves and the world we inhabit. Gober’s insistence on recreating reality rather than using pre-existing forms transports his art toward a more psychological and emotive discussion.


Rat Bait

signed, titled, numbered and dated 'Robert Gober "RAT BAIT" ED. 8/10 1992' on the reverse
cast plaster with casein and silkscreen ink
23.2 x 15.7 x 5.1 cm (9 1/8 x 6 1/8 x 2 in.)
Executed in 1992, this work is number 8 from an edition of 10.

£80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for £125,000

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 [email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 29 June 2017