Thomas Houseago, Untitled (abstract I), 2015, Tuf-Cal, hemp, and iron rebar, 103 × 78 1/2 × 86 inches (261.6 × 199.4 × 218.4 cm) © Thomas Houseago. Photo by Fredrik Nilson.
Houseago is vanguard in his approach to sculpture’s original subject, the human body. Utilizing mediums associated with classical and modernist sculpture—such as carved wood, clay, plaster, and bronze—as well as less traditional materials like rebar and hemp, Houseago builds monumental figures rife with the traces of their making. Body parts rendered from flat portions of wood adjoin with others sculpted in the round to create interplay between two and three dimensional elements. His bulky-shouldered figures replace the grace of their serpentine contrapposto stance with awkward contortions of piecemeal appendages. Crouched and stilted on thick limbs, these reductive interpretations convey a striking sense of weight and anatomical structure. By tapping into the nuanced legibility of the human form, Houseago’s figures oscillate between states of power and of vulnerability.
Thomas Houseago was born in 1972 in Leeds, England. He studied at Jacob Kramer Foundation College, England, from 1990 to 1991, and then received his B.A. in 1994 from St. Martin’s School of Art, London. He then studied at De Ateliers, Amsterdam, from 1994 to 1996. Houseago’s works have been exhibited in several solo and group exhibitions. Recent exhibitions include Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam (1996); “Thomas Houseago, I am Here, Selected Sculptures 1995–2003,” S.M.A.K., Belgium (2003); “A Million Miles Away,” The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2007); “There’s a Crack in Everything, That’s How the Light Gets In,” Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin (2009); “The Artist’s Museum,” MOCA, Los Angeles (2010); “What Went Down,” Modern Art Oxford (2010, traveled to Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Museum Abteiberg, Germany; and Centre International d’Art et du Paysage de l’Ile de Vassivière, France, through 2011); “Amy Bessone and Thomas Houseago,” The Rennie Collection, Canada (2010); “The Beat of the Show,” Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2011); “The World Belongs to You,” Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2011); “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Hermaphrodite,” Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, Norwich (2012); “Striding Figure/Standing Figure,” Galleria Borghese, Rome (2013); “As I Went Out One Morning,” Storm King Art Center, New York (2013); “Studies ‘98–’14,” Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Netherlands (2014); and “Masks (Pentagon),” Rockefeller Center Plaza, New York (2015). His work was included in the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Houseago has collaborated with the New York Public Art Fund on two public sculptures: Statuesque (2010) and Masks (Pentagon) (2015).
Houseago currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California.