Thomas Houseago - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 13, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles

  • Exhibited

    London, Saatchi Gallery, Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture, 27 May - 16 October 2011
    London, Camden Arts Centre, Strange Events Permit Themselves The Possibility of Occurring,7 December - 10 February 2008

  • Literature

    Meghan Dailey, Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture, Jonathan Cape, 2009, pp. 42-45
    Exh. Cat., The Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture, Saatchi Gallery, London, 2011, p. 59

  • Catalogue Essay

    Referencing a multitude of styles, from classicism to Cubism to Pop, Thomas Houseago subverts the traditional language of sculpture, opening it up to new readings. Executed in 2000, Caryatide with Squatting Man is a perfect example of this approach: by breaking away from conventional notions of sculpture, it can be interpreted on many levels. On one level, Houseago elaborates on the classical column, which is traditionally composed of three elements: plinth, column and capital. His version takes the shape of a disturbing beheaded caryatid, with a small crouching man serving duty as its head. Also present is an allusion to the modernism of Constantin Brancusi, who broke the sculptural mould with works such as Endless Column. Yet the contrast with these historical references could not be more striking. Houseago’s sculptures are bulky and textured; their coarse outlines have nothing in common with the elegant figures of ancient Greece or Brancusi’s smoothly rounded forms. By thus emphasising the chameleon nature of contemporary sculpture, Houseago’s works map out a unique space between figuration and abstraction.

    Usually made with traditional materials such as wood, plaster, iron and steel, Houseago’s monumental sculptures perpetrate a knowing deception. His creatures initially appear like monsters hewn from rock, but a closer look soon reveals them for what are: hollow assemblages of fragile wire and plaster. Not only does their fallacious, anxiety-raising presence expose humankind’s own frailty and vulnerability, but it also reveals art’s illusory nature and, in consequence, its endless possibilities for depiction.

    Houseago’s special talent is to use sculpture as a vehicle for transforming static figuration into a ‘performance’, in which wood, steel, and iron are animated in a continuous state of dialectical flux. “As a sculptor, bottom line, I am trying to put thought and energy into an inert material and give it truth and form, and I believe there is nothing more profound than that” (Thomas Houseago in The Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture, exh. cat., Saatchi Gallery, London, 2011, p. 115).


Caryatide with Squatting Man

wood, plaster, iron, jute
300 x 90 x 40 cm (118 1/8 x 35 3/8 x 15 3/4 in)

£60,000 - 80,000 ♠ †

Sold for £73,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

14 February 2013