Notes from the Venice Biennale: Thomas Houseago’s can’t-be-missed sculpture at Palazzo Grassi


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When Los Angeles-based sculptor Thomas Houseago sat down for an interview with the L.A. Times last fall, the fact that he was making a massive new work for French billionaire François Pinault’s palazzo-museum in Venice was supposed to be a secret. As in: some sort of confidentiality agreements had been signed, and we got slightly panicky phone calls about the matter before we went to press with an article that mentioned the project.

Now the sculpture could not be more public. The striding figure (called ‘L’Homme Pressé,’ which roughly means ‘man in a hurry’) looms large over the Grand Canal, visible from many spots on the ground as well as the stream of water taxis and buses.


It’s part of the exhibition ‘The World Belongs to You,’ selections from Pinault’s permanent collection curated by Caroline Bourgeois. The theme of the show is not entirely clear from the title or the press release, but you will notice a lot of hyperrealistic sculptures and installations that are dizzying in their mirroring or doubling of images. Thank you, Charles Ray, Urs Fischer and Maurizio Cattelan, for making the museum a superbly uncanny, deeply Freudian, philosophically dangerous place.

Maybe that’s what Houseago’s hulking man is rushing away from?


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Thomas Houseago’s shape-shifting world

-- Jori Finkel