NGV Triennial

Daniel Arsham
Hidden figures

LEVEL 2 & 3, GALLERIES 22 & 27


Daniel Arsham Interview

Explore Daniel Arsham Virtually

Daniel Arsham’s newly commissioned work, Hidden figures 2020, comprises four human-scale figures drawn from two famed paintings in the NGV Collection: Giambattista Tiepolo’s The Banquet of Cleopatra 1743–44 and Nicolas Régnier’s Hero and Leander c. 1625–26. The artist will create one male and one female figure from each painting – respectively Cleopatra and one of the serving boys, plus Hero and Leander. The figures are holding the same poses found in the original paintings, but appear draped in a white cloth. On closer inspection the ‘cloth’ is hollow, merely appearing to drape over a figure that’s no longer contained within. Like Arsham’s previous bodies of work, they use the form of draped fabric to articulate anonymous figures. In this instance the artist is subtly turning the audience’s attention to issues of race and representation in the history of European painting. The sculptures will be displayed alongside their original source paintings in the NGV’s historical collection galleries.

A second work by Arsham is also be featured in NGV Triennial. Falling clock 2020 is a new commission of one of the artist’s sculptures that incorporates a large scale clock, which can be used to tell the time and appears to fall into the white drapery on an otherwise featureless wall.

Daniel Arsham was raised in Miami, Florida and relocated to New York to attend the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. He was a recipient of the Gelman Trust Fellowship, completing his degree in the School of Art in 2003. Arsham’s numerous collaborations include projects with James Franco, Merce Cunningham, Heidi Slimane and Pharrell Williams. In addition to his art practice, he established the collaborative design studio Snarkitecture with architect Alex Mustonen in 2008. Arsham’s work has been shown at PS1 in New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami; The Athens Bienniale in Greece; The New Museum In New York; Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati; SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah Georgia; and Carré d’Art de Nîmes in France, among others. He is represented in institutional collections including the Pérez Art Museum Miami, the Walker Art Center, and the Centre Pompidou.

The NGV warmly thanks Triennial Champions Barry Janes & Paul Cross and Loti & Victor Smorgon Fund for their support.