Robert Gober, American, born 1954


Plaster, beeswax, human hair, cotton, leather, aluminum pull tabs, enamel paint

33 1/2 x 40 x 24 3/4 inches (85.1 x 101.6 x 62.9 cm)

© Robert Gober / Courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Curatorial Department:
Contemporary Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift (by exchange) of Mrs. Arthur Barnwell, 1999

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anxiety [x]   awkward [x]   child [x]   dismemberment [x]   installation [x]   juxtaposition [x]   left foot [x]   legs [x]   mixed media [x]   neo-dada [x]   sandals [x]   sculpture [x]   sink [x]   socks [x]   surreal [x]   surrealist [x]  

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This unlikely juxtaposition of a sink and two left legs speaks in the ambiguous language of symbols or dreams with which the Surrealists first conjured powerful images of anxiety. Since the 1990s, Robert Gober has frequently referred to the unease of childhood by casting children’s legs, here dangling in lieu of a faucet in the sink, another of the artist’s common motifs. Gober’s use of recognizable yet fractured imagery evades the creation of a logical whole. These handcrafted works waver between the illusory and the real, revisiting strategies and images used by Marcel Duchamp (American, 1887–1968) and Jasper Johns (American, born 1930).

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art Handbook (2014 Edition)

    Robert Gober’s handcrafted sculptures of recognizable yet fractured objects speak in the ambiguous language of symbols or dreams with which Surrealist artists first conjured powerful images of desire and anxiety in the 1920s. Often incorporating plaster casts of body parts and plumbing fixtures—here two left legs, each donning socks and sandals, dangle from the faucet holes of a sink—his uncanny juxtapositions evoke themes of childhood, loss, memory, sexuality, and spiritual redemption. Wavering between the illusory and the real, the erotic and the macabre, Gober’s sculptures allude to strategies and images used by artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Jasper Johns. Adelina Vlas, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2014, p. 415.