Rebecca Warren’s bronze sculptures are created in raw clay, cast, and hand-painted. She knowingly references the work of canonical male artists such as Auguste Rodin, Edgar Degas, and Willem de Kooning, as well as the cartoonist Robert Crumb. Deeply informed by the history of sculpture—from mystical prehistoric sources up to the present moment—her ambiguous, figurative forms disrupt entrenched notions of the classical ideal. Totemlike and “awkward,” as the artist described them, the sculptures in their clay state are manipulated by hand, twisted, and built up, the wet, malleable material “fixed” in bronze and paint, defying the pull of gravity. The plinths on which these works rest are fully integrated into this sculptural ethos. Cast in bronze from a full-scale fiberboard construction and painted, they are intrinsically equivalent to the figures themselves. The emphatically vertical sculptures on the Bluhm Family Terrace are, in fact, forceful counterpoints to Chicago’s renowned modernist skyline—itself dominated by works of the city’s greatest, mostly male architectural masters.
This exhibition, a collaboration with The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, is the British artist’s first solo presentation in an American museum. The Art Institute’s component will comprise three monumental bronze sculptures created specifically for the Bluhm Family Terrace.
Rebecca Warren was born in London in 1965 and received degrees from Goldsmith’s College at the University of London and the Chelsea College of Art, London. Warren was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2006 and the Vincent Award in 2008. The Kunsthalle Zürich mounted a one-person exhibition in 2004, her work was included in the 2006 Tate Triennial, and the Serpentine Gallery, London, presented a survey of her work in 2009. Warren lives and works in London.