Robert Gober: At His Best From Day One

THE DAILY PIC: Already in 1975, Gober was capturing reality's fractures.



THE DAILY PIC: This 1975 painting, titled Hope Hill Road, is the earliest work in the Robert Gober survey at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and one of the first that you meet as you enter. Although it could easily be passed over as a work of student realism it turns out to be more than that. The way the roof floats over the trees at right, as though the world has come just slightly unhinged, already captures the trademarks of Gober’s very best mature works: Rather than moving all the way into tired old surrealism, like their lesser fellows, his greatest pieces represent a world that’s only mildly askew, suggesting that it has never  been quite level. That is, instead of using art to distort reality, his works can give the impression that they are faithfully capturing a distorted world where even the laws of nature may sometimes be broken. They remind me of a certain tradition in street photography, dating back to Eugene Atget, where oddness is spotted in situ. (Collection of Robert Gober, © 2014 Robert Gober; photo by Thomas Griesel.)

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