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SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: THE ART OF PAWEŁ ALTHAMER

Paweł Althamer, Balloon, 2007, nylon, polyester, acrylic, rope, helium, 69' x 23' x 13' 1/2". Installation view, outside the Palazzina Appiani Sports Arena, Milan. Photo: Marco de Scalzi. Fondazione Nicola Trussardi.

MOST PEOPLE KNOW Paweł Althamer’s art only on the basis of his sculpture: densely worked, life-size figures, often depicting himself or his immediate family, that combine organic materials with found objects such as clothing or glasses. These works exude a homespun, introverted uncanniness—think Ed Kienholz by way of Gunther von Hagens. Althamer is also well known for a more anomalous sculpture, disarmingly Pop in flavor: a massive inflatable self-portrait of the artist’s naked self, floating in the air but anchored to the ground by scores of long cords, like a gravity-free Gulliver. However, to think of Althamer as a sculptor is to consider only a fraction of his output. Indeed, his practice is best characterized by a singular approach to collaboration: one that falls outside (and exists in playful tension with) the dominant, earnestly ameliorative norm of this mode. In

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