70 ⅞ x 74 ¾ x 27 ½"
Installed on the Main Green, winter 2021
The bronze physique of Rebecca Warren’s Large Concretised Monument to the Twentieth Century is cartoonish and exaggerated; vaguely humanoid–globes are suspended on and connected by birdlike appendages. The body of this figure echoes the grotesque, hyper-voluptuous bodies of the comics of R. Crumb, while the rough, knobby surface texture recalls the metal sculpture of Giacometti. The identity of this figure is thus unspecific and remote, yet the shapes and curves signify that the body atop this pedestal is female-coded.
Rebecca Warren has made her name with these tactile, visceral three-dimensional forms. Adept with bronze, clay, and steel, Warren creates sculptures that are not so much literal transcriptions of the human body, but rather seem to reflect the messy vigor and vitality of being alive, often with a sensual flair. Of her work, Warren has said: “I want them to look like they'd been made by a sort of pervy, middle-aged provincial art teacher who'd taken me over.” And with R. Crumb in mind, there is an undeniably prurient aspect to this work. We are encouraged to let our eyes linger over this body—a sanctioned trespass of the gaze. The form of the sculpture seems to sag in response to the weight of our look, as if merely carrying these curvaceous, fleshy proportions is a work of effort and determination.
Yet Warren also goes further than the so-called “pervy” impulse in how she appropriates the sexualized female bodies of R. Crumb. With the title in mind, this work by Warren makes a claim about the role and position of gender in the twentieth century. By naming the work as a monument, Warren asserts that the twentieth century was characterized by a narrow-minded view of identity, gender, and the capabilities of women, leaving open the possibility for the future to be more expansive and equitable.
Rebecca Warren (born in London 1965; lives in London) is a graduate of Goldsmiths College (University of London) and the Chelsea College of Art. Warren has exhibited her sculptural works in solo shows at Matthew Marks Gallery (Los Angeles, 2017 and New York, 2014, 2009, 2007, 2005), the Fondation Vincent van Gogh in Arles (2017), the Dallas Museum of Art (2016), and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (2010), among other venues. Her work was included in the 2011 Venice Biennale, and she was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2006, which is awarded to an influential British artist under 50 years of age on an annual basis. In October 2020, she was awarded an OBE in the Queen ’s Birthday Honours for her contributions to the field of art in the United Kingdom.