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March 12, 2009

Matthew Barney's
"Cremaster Suite,"
1994-2002, from the
Hirshhorn's collection.

Strange Bodies: Figurative Works from the

Hirshorn Collection - lower level
H. W. Janson’s History of Art, that curves evoke something specific, such Hirshhorn augmented by a select
canonical and frequently contested as a person or body type? Does the number of pieces lent from outstanding
mainstay of art history students, sits emphatically proportioned figure private collections, which highlights
somewhat dusty but dignified on my symbolize a process—that of the body one of the Museum’s collection
bookshelf. Whenever it catches my eye, changing during pregnancy? Or did its strengths. The exhibition is a case study
the volume brings to mind the Venus of maker choose to distill a broad concept, for examining why those who produce
Willendorf, a four-inch limestone figure, for instance, fertility, by manipulating images of the body might exaggerate
seemingly of a voluptuous woman, the recognizable and concrete shapes or alter its features. Among the objects
which occupies a prominent place in of the human form? I also wonder on view are early and mid-twentieth-
“Chapter One: Prehistoric and whether it was their speculations about century works by Francis Bacon, Jean
Ethnographic Art.” This “first lady” of the the intentions behind its making—as Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, and
Paleolithic era, the original rock star in a much as its purely visual aspects—that Willem de Kooning that comprise part
line-up of art history’s greatest hits, led scholars to claim the ancient artifact of the core collection donated to the
raises important questions about the for the much more newly invented Museum by Joseph H. Hirshhorn, and
relationship of its physical discipline of art history. I share these demonstrate an interest by these artists
characteristics to the impossible-to- musings as an introduction to Strange in dissolving or warping the human
know thing its maker sought to Bodies, an installation of figurative form to heighten its emotional
represent. Do the Venus’s ponderous works from the holdings of the expressiveness.

Strange Bodies: Figurative Works

from the Hirshhorn Collection

Take some time to walk through the exhibition online and research some of the artists
listed below at the bottom of the page!

1. Sketch an artwork from the research that you found in your search that you like and
another artwork that you dislike where the artist has altered the human form in some
2. Take note of the artists name, year it was created, title and why you feel that you like
the work and why you feel like you don’t like the work.
3. For each piece explain how and why you feel the selected artists have altered or
exaggerated the form to communicate a concept and idea. What is that artists concept
or idea?
4. Why do artists alter and change the way the human form looks? What benefit does it
visually offer an artist to change or alter the human form from the way we really see it?
5. Extension - Draw the gestures of at least 20 figures that fill at least 2 full pages in your

DUE: MARCH 16th, 2009

Artist Bank
Magdalena Abakanowicz, Georg Baselitz, Lucian Freud, Robert Gober, Julian Schnabel,
Franz West, Janine Antoni, Matthew Barney, John Currin, Ron Mueck, Richard
Diebenkorn, Paul Wonner, Manuel Neri, Paula Rego, and Lisa Yuskavage.

1. 2.
1.Ron Mueck's
"Untitled (Big
Man)," 2000,
from the

1990, from the