Almost Alive


21-07-2018 - 21-10-2018

The desire to create as realistic a representation of man as possible is as old as humanity itself, extending far back to Antiquity. In the course of cultural history, artists have developed techniques for representing the human body in the most realistic fashion possible. Whereas illusionistic sculptures from earlier centuries are still symbolic figures connected with religious, artistic and historical themes, since the mid-20th century, the focus has shifted to man and individuality.

In the 1960s, with the inclusion of everyday reality in art, American artists Duane Hanson, John De Andrea and George Segal turned once more to a realistic depiction of the human body. Through the use of traditional techniques such as modelling, casting and painting, they created hyperrealistic sculptures that renewed the realistic tradition in sculpture, which had long been considered to be outdated. This figurative impulse inspired subsequent generations of sculptors, who to this very day have carried on the hyperrealistic pictorial idiom of the pioneers in a contemporary manner.

Almost Alive provides a survey of the hyperrealistic movement of the past 50 years and is thus the first exhibition worldwide to focus on the development of this sculptural genre in the 20th and 21st centuries. The more than 30 exhibits on show not only outline this art movement from the 1970s to the present, but also highlight how depictions of human corporeality have always been shaped by the respective zeitgeist and in retrospect can be seen as mirroring time-bound concepts of the body.

The exhibition at the Kunsthalle Tübingen brings together hyperrealistic sculptures from around the world (U.S., Canada, Australia, Scotland, Italy, Spain and Belgium, among others) in a chronological arrangement. Starting with the pioneers of the movement from the U.S. and Great Britain, the exhibition tour leads on via Robert Gober, Berlinde de Bruyckere and Maurizio Cattelan – who under the influence of digitization in the 1990s each in their individual way updated the body anew as the seat of the Ego in the form of hyperrealistic sculptures – to more recent positions, such as that of Marie-Eve Levasseur – who addresses the theme of the influence of technology on the human body.

The sculptures gathered here not only fascinate through their veristic link to reality and their precise craftsmanship. They aim not least to draw attention to our voyeuristic media-steered patterns of reception and to the vulnerability and fragility of our own body.