Him, 2001 by Maurizio Cattelan

Image © Hayward Gallery 

The Human Factor exhibition was curated with a dynamic use of space at Hayward Gallery – sculptures suspended with fabric crudely hung from the building’s supporting beams and human forms occupying awkward and void spaces.


 To the left of the entrance I was stopped in my tracks by a slightly larger than life sized model of a thuggish looking caveman made from a smooth chalk-like and monochrome material. The brute figure standing about 2 meters away from a picturesc backdrop of a pristine valley looks as if it has jumped out of the postcard scene and into the gallery.Giant and the 4th Postcard (Franconia) 2008 by Katharina Fritsch takes on an Italian style of pristine marble sculpture and beautiful Italian-looking scenery. Yet Fritsch’s work is clean and contemporary with the postcard backdrop acting like a low contrast silkscreen print with a wash of mint green. The model of the “caveman/giant” was a taxi driver the artist met who has Acromegalic, a disease caused by an excess production of growth hormones.

A slightly different variation of the contemporary human form was Jack Lemmon 2011 by artist Rachel Harrison. From one side of the assemblage a female shop mannequin standing next to a mess of crudely and distastefully rainbow painted polystyrene blocks. And turning to see the other side the same body of the shop mannequin but wearing a rubber mask of former president Dick Cheney fashioning a yellow shell suit and holding a net with a plastic lemon caught inside. Mad as it seems, the artwork very cleverly plays on words and association and although quite sore for the eyes like artworks made by Jeff Koons you cannot help to express a little smirk when seeing Harrison’s work and reading the title.


Although The Human Factor did offer a few delights along the way the entirety of the exhibition seemed a little lukewarm. With a mixture of traditional representations of the human form made with elegant materials to more contemporary and extravagant outcomes the overall exhibition didn’t hit the mark when it came to what sticks in your mind on the train journey home.


Article written by Mel Fletcher

Text © Mel Fletcher 2014

Images © Hayward Gallery, London

Source: southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/the-human-factor-81674


www.melfletcher.com - Mel Fletcher - The Human Factor
www.melfletcher.com - Mel Fletcher - The Human Factor

Giant and the 4th Postcard (Franconia), 2008 by Katharina Fritsch

Image © Hayward Gallery

www.melfletcher.com - Mel Fletcher - The Human Factor

That Girl (T.G. Awake), 2012-13 by Paul McCarthy

Image © Hayward Gallery


Hayward Gallery, London, UK


The Human Factor – The Figure in Contemporary Sculpture at Hayward Gallery in Southbank Centre, London, UK explores the human figure with themes of; sexuality, violence, humour, history and voyeurism.


From a coffin cosied with the body of J. F. Kennedy, a human form with its torso fashioned into a working beehive, to a child size sculpture of Adolf Hitler praying; The Human Factor has a range of compelling and curious representations of the human form in todays world.

Words © Mel Fletcher