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Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor

The Museum of Modern Art, October 4, 2014–January 18, 2015

Between 1983 and 1986, Gober created more than fifty sculptures of sinks and scores of related drawings. Though their stark and rigorous forms are indebted to Minimal art of the 1960s, they refer directly to objects in the everyday world. The earliest sink sculptures were based on real sinks, including one in the artist’s childhood home. Built from wood, plaster, and wire lath, the sinks are finished with multiple coats of paint to mimic the appearance of enamel. But, crucially, they lack faucets and plumbing. The sinks’ appearance coincided with the early years of the AIDS epidemic, and their uselessness spoke to the impossibility of cleansing oneself. The sculptures on view in this room were featured in Gober’s first show of sinks, held at the Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, in 1985.