Download the HENI News app

Robert Gober’s uncommon objects are stranger than fiction

2 min read  ·  28 Apr 2023

Robert Gober, Help me (2018–21). Copyright the artist, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

Robert Gober, Help me (2018–21). Copyright the artist, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

Robert Gober, the acclaimed US artist known for his strangely familiar sculptures, is on the HENI News’ radar.

Born in 1954, Gober has been exploring the themes of sexuality, religion and politics by transforming commonplace objects into realistic-looking but strange and enigmatic works of art. A shoe, sink, bag of cat litter, or a disembodied leg, have all featured in his work since he first made his mark in the New York art world in the mid 1980s.

Gober’s HENI Score—a unique artist sentiment index—increased 108% after his latest solo show in New York at Matthew Marks Gallery, his longstanding representative. The curator Nancy Spector described the show, “Robert Gober: ‘Shut up.’ ‘No. You shut up.’ as “not to be missed”.

Gober’s new works included wall-mounted sculptures that looked like windows, including wooden frames and fabric curtains, that were not actual windows, such as Help Me (2018-21).

To find out more about the artist and gain a greater insight into his market, see Robert Gober's HENI Dashboard, a unique feature of HENI News.

Gober's auction sales over the past two years have totalled $12m, reflecting his status in the art market. Major pieces have sold for more than $5m in the past at auction. One of his smaller but celebrated works Cat Litter (1990), an edition of nine, sold for $126,000 at Sotheby’s. The plaster and latex sculpture has been seen as a droll commentary on the American Dream, domesticity and wastefulness. Another classic Gober work, Drain (1989), an edition of eight in pewter, sold for $252,000, also at Sotheby’s. Both went for their estimated price.

Gober's work has been exhibited widely around the world, and his pieces are included in the collections of prestigious institutions, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, where he had a major retrospective in 2014.

Speaking to the Brooklyn Rail’s Jarrett Earnest at the time, Gober reflected on his long interest in ordinary objects's potential as metaphors. “I grew up studying artists, great seminal American artists, who were same-sex attracted but who expressed that through an encoded symbolism within their work,” Gober said, adding: “I grew up learning from this in a very useful and creative way.”