Robert Gober. Untitled. 1991

Robert Gober Untitled 1991

  • Not on view

Gober is a contemporary heir of Surrealist artists such as René Magritte and Salvador Dalí, but his images, however bizarre, are quietly plainspoken. The individual components are ordinary, their combination is legible, and the details are precise. In this untitled work, the wax body, truncated at the waist, fits so flush against the wall that one imagines trunk, arms, and head on the other side. Gober has said that the group of body sculptures to which this belongs was inspired by animal dioramas in a natural-history museum—examples of figurative sculpture far removed from the Classical tradition. In them, reality (rather than the ideal) is the goal, as it is here—for example, in the hairs on the exposed skin and the well-worn soles of the figure’s shoes.

This sculpture was made for an installation at a museum in Paris, where it emerged from a wall papered with a forest scene. It was shown together with two similar sculptures, one with naked buttocks printed with a musical score and the other with clothed legs punctured by three drains—a trio of pleasure, disaster, and resuscitation, Gober has said. Removed from this theatrical setting, this sculpture is open to a wealth of diverse readings. Its realism is the departure point for broad avenues of symbolic and psychological meaning.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 95.
Wood, beeswax, leather, fabric, and human hair
13 1/4 x 16 1/2 x 46 1/8" (33.6 x 41.9 x 117.2 cm)
Gift of Werner and Elaine Dannheisser
Object number
© 2019 Robert Gober
Painting and Sculpture

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or, please email If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to