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View of “Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor,” 2014–15. Foreground: Untitled, 1990. Background: Forest, 1991. Photo: Thomas Griesel.

Robert Gober

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

View of “Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor,” 2014–15. Foreground: Untitled, 1990. Background: Forest, 1991. Photo: Thomas Griesel.

FROM THE BEGINNING, the art of Robert Gober was distinctive, as if it had emerged full-blown from his forehead; and, in fact, an early work, Slides of a Changing Painting, 1982–83, a slide show of eighty-nine photographs of a single painting altered again and again, has served as a source for many pieces ever since. (The template of this painting, the torso, is a leitmotif of his work as a whole.) Right away, Gober announced metamorphosis as a central concern—metamorphosis not only from image to image but also from medium to medium, above all from the pictorial to the sculptural and the spatial. This double transfer, in which a trace of the initial image or imagistic mode persists in the final object or installation, is one key to the fundamental ambiguity of this art. It is an ambiguity that mixes illusion and reality in subtle ways that often elicit strong feelings of

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