Thomas Houseago - Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Friday, November 14, 2014 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Hauser & Wirth, London

  • Catalogue Essay

    "Or when I see a face, I see Cubism in a face."
    Thomas Houseago, 2013

    Through S-Mask II, 2011 Thomas Houseago breathes new life into the age-old tradition of figurative sculpture. Participating in a history that dates back to antiquity, Houseago employs metal, hemp and plaster to reinvestigate the formal possibilities of the human form. Through a reductive language, Houseago suggests the essentials of a human face with various appendages and textures. Layered, organic forms mark out an angular jawline and curving masses circle gaping eye sockets. Mounted to a wall, the negative spaces in the face imbue the figure with blank, universalizing anonymity. S-Mask II is an amalgamation of tactile masses and voids that exudes a powerful physical presence, but also suggests the volatility of the human psyche.

    Houseago’s sculptural practice is influenced by modernist formal concerns. He reflected: “…sculpture is a dramatization of the space between your eye and the world, between looking and recording, between what you see and feel and memory...” Houseago departs from mere observation and makes stylistic choices to communicate something larger about the human form. Using a vast repertoire of materials, he manipulates the relationship between two and three-dimensional space. Houseago allows his sculptures to show the means of their construction, often leaving evidence of his hand. These inventive strategies allow Houseago to contort the human form and push the bounds of its legibility. Despite its abstraction, S-Mask II remains referential. Housaego said, “…I create faces or heads or masks usually with the idea that they will be part of a bigger sculpture, but sometimes they are so complete or tell such a clear story that they become complete works, and I present them like that.” (T. Houseago, in R. R. Lafo “Figuratively Speaking,” Sculpture 29, no. 9 (November, 2010) pp. 29-30). S-Mask II elicits a powerfully visceral reaction within the viewer, and demonstrates the dexterity with which Houseago is able to invoke the human form.


S-Mask II

bronze, black patina
47 1/2 x 35 7/8 x 12 in. (120.7 x 91.4 x 30.5 cm)
This work is number 1 from an edition of 3 plus 2 artist's proofs.
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $173,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Day Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 14 November 2014 11am