Robert Gober, artist, in conversation with Harry Cooper, curator and head of modern and contemporary...
Robert Gober’s sculptural and pictorial installations have proved difficult to ignore, assimilate, or forget. Born in 1954 in Wallingford, Connecticut, Gober studied literature and fine arts at Middlebury College and spent his junior year abroad at the Tyler School of Art in Rome. He moved to New York in 1976, finding work initially as a carpenter and handyman. For five years he was a studio assistant for the artist Elizabeth Murray, building complicated stretchers for her shaped canvases. He had his first solo exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery in 1984. In 2001 he represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. Major exhibitions of his work have been organized by the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam (1990), Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris (1991), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (1997), the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (1999), the Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst in Oslo (2003), and Schaulager in Basel (2007).
Inspired by artists as diverse as Hieronymus Bosch and Marcel Duchamp, Gober makes objects that almost appear to be the real things they depict—sinks and drains, beds and cribs, candles and light bulbs, legs and breasts. He then puts them together in ways that trigger thoughts of religion and sexuality, clothing and shelter, childhood and memory, consumer culture and consumed nature. The result is a consistently unpredictable, disturbing, and affecting oeuvre of singular importance for contemporary art. Gober lives and works in New York.