The Museum of Modern Art announces Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor, the first large-scale survey of Robert Gober’s career to take place in the United States. The exhibition will be on view from October 4, 2014, to January 18, 2015. Robert Gober (American, b. 1954) rose to prominence in the mid-1980s and was quickly acknowledged as one of the most significant artists of his generation. Early in his career he made deceptively simple sculptures of everyday objects—beginning with sinks before moving on to domestic furniture such as playpens, beds, and doors. In the 1990s, his practice evolved from single works to theatrical room-sized environments. Featuring loans from institutions and private collections in North America and Europe as well as selections from the artist’s collection, the exhibition includes around 130 works across several mediums, including individual sculptures and immersive sculptural environments and a distinctive body of drawings, prints, and photographs. The loosely chronological presentation traces the development of this remarkable body of work, highlighting themes and motifs that emerged in the early 1980s and continue to inform Gober’s work today. Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor is organized by Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator, and Paulina Pobocha, Assistant Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, MoMA, working in close collaboration with the artist.
The familiar and distinctly American vocabulary of Gober’s sculptures and sculptural environments originates in the artist’s experience, memory, and imagination. He reclaims domestic imagery and religious motifs for his personal iconography, reinvesting them with fresh, albeit enigmatic, meaning. In all of his work, Gober’s formal intelligence is never separate from a penetrating reading of the sociopolitical context of his time. His objects and installations are among the most psychologically charged artworks of the late-20th century, reflecting the artist’s sustained concerns with issues of social justice, freedom, and tolerance.
Since the 1990s, Gober’s career has been uniquely rooted in the articulation of room-sized environments that place the viewer within a sculptural and psychic space of the artist’s devising. MoMA will re-create the majority of Gober’s installations and contextualize them within the trajectory of his career. Among the room-sized installations on view is an untitled work first presented at the Dia Center for the Arts in 1992, featuring a 360-degree hand-painted mural depicting a New England forest in summer, which is being displayed in its entirety for the first time in the U.S. since 1992.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, featuring an essay by Hilton Als and a richly illustrated chronology written by Claudia Carson and Paulina Pobocha, with Robert Gober.