The Human Factor. The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture, Ralph Rugoff (ed.), London, Hayward Publishing, 2014, 208 pages. Ill. colour.
Published to accompany the London exhibition of the same name, The Human Factor catalogue aims to take stock of the range and relevance of figurative sculpture in the last quarter century or so. One of the volume’s great strengths in taking on so daunting a task is the richness of its illustrations; the book contains both photographs of important sculptural works and production images of the sort that are less often seen. Essays by Penelope Curtis, Martin Herbert, Lames Linwood, Lisa Lee and Ralph Rugoff (the editor) cover topics as diverse, and pertinent, as Exchange Values and Metamorphoses, The Conditions of Contemporary Figure Sculpture and the Re-emergence of the Figure in Sculpture.
Twenty-five prominent contemporary artists are featured in the volume including (among others) such prominent names as Jeff Koons, Maurizio Cattelan, Thomas Hirschhorn, Pierre Huyghe and Paul McCarthy. Even so abbreviated a sampling gives one a sense of the diversity of practices under consideration and that is to the book’s credit, despite the great familiarity of some of these figures.
Overall, the work offers both general and scholarly readers an interesting look at and assessment of the many and complex ways in which the human figure has – relatively recently – resurfaced. The impacted of this on a variety of three-dimensional art practices is examined along with concepts of identity, presence, the body, the theatrical and the historical.