press release

Hyperrealism: Sculpture
10.03.2018 - 01.07.2018

Following the successful exhibition ‘Hyperrealism. 50 years of painting’ in the spring of 2017, Kunsthal Rotterdam steps into the third dimension with the exhibition ‘Hyperrealism: Sculpture’. The exhibition will present a unique selection of hyperrealist works by the most important sculptors of the past fifty years. From the early American pioneers, including George Segal, Duane Hanson and John De Andrea, to the rise of the international movement, represented by Juan Muñoz (Spain), Maurizio Cattelan (Italy), Berlinde de Bruyckere (Belgium) and the Australians Ron Mueck, Sam Jinks and Patricia Piccinini. Both young and old will undoubtedly be astounded by the convincing reality of some of the human figures.

With 35 artworks by 28 artists, the Kunsthal will present - for the first time in the Netherlands - an overview of the worldwide developments in hyperrealist sculpture over the past fifty years. In the 1960s and 1970s a number of sculptors, each from their own perspective, became interested in a type of figurative art based on representations of the human figure that were as vivid and lifelike as possible. Standing face to face with these works provokes a reaction from the visitors, raising questions about the extent to which human beings can be manipulated and about identity in general. How do we see ourselves and others? – An interesting topic in the light of the current selfie culture on social media.

Human replicas
In five different themes, the exhibition will show how our perspective on the human body is subject to constant change. ‘Doppelgangers’ zooms in on artists such as Duane Hanson and John De Andrea who, in the 1960s, set the trend by making life-sized sculptures. To make the sculptures even more lifelike, they used extremely laborious, complex procedures and innovative materials to meticulously replicate the structure of the human skin, and combined the works with objects from reality. Also shown are the hyperrealist nudes of the American artist Paul McCarthy and works by the French artist Daniel Firman, who, by contrast, fully dresses his figures and systematically conceals their facial features and limbs.

From the 1990s a number of artists, including Ron Mueck, Marc Sijan and Sam Jinks, started to drastically enlarge or reduce the dimension of their figures. Ron Mueck uses this method to focus on the transitional stages of life, such as birth, old age and death. By depicting the human body in an alienating way, he makes these themes even more profound. A spectacular example of this is the five meter long work ‘A Girl’ from 2006 (from the collection of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art), representing a new-born baby.

Deformed realities
The theme ‘deformations’ zooms in on artists such as Evan Penny and Patricia Piccinini who observe the body from distorted perspectives, Tony Matelli who, with his floating figure, seems to completely discard the laws of nature, and Berlinde de Bruyckere who explores themes like death and human existence with her sculptures of contorted bodies.

Monochrome Sculptures and Body Parts
The absence of a colour palette in the monochrome sculptures of George Segal reduces the effect of reality and instead emphasises the anonymity of the figure and the aesthetic qualities of its corporeality. Artists such as Keith Edmier and Juan Muñoz use these aspects to formulate questions concerning human nature. The theme ‘body parts’ shows the works of artists who, since the 1990s, have focused their attention on specific parts of the body. Maurizio Cattelan’s disconnected arms and Robert Gober’s apparently cleanly severed lower part of a hairy leg projecting from the wall, as well as the life-sized heads by John Davies and the almost surrealist human parts by Peter Land, all convey disturbing messages, occasionally with a touch of humour.

The exhibition is a collaboration between the Kunsthal Rotterdam and the Institut für Kulturaustausch in Tübingen (IKA), Germany. The guest curator is Dr Otto Letze, director of the IKA. This international exhibition is a continuation of the Kunsthal’s line of programming around realism, with exhibitions such as ‘Duane Hanson. Pop Art Sculpture’ (2002), ‘Painting now!’(2007), ‘The Adventure of Reality’ (2010), ‘Chuck Close’ (2012) and ‘Hyperrealism. 50 Years of Painting’ (2017).

The exhibition will be accompanied by the catalogue ‘Hyperrealism: Sculpture’ (in Dutch and English), Waanders & de Kunst publishers, on sale for € 24,95 at the Kunsthal store. In a special edition called 'Hyperrealisme in de beeldhouwkunst van 1400 tot nu' (hyperrealism in sculpture from 1400 up to now) the Dutch art magazine Kunstschrift will shed light on the history of this phenomenon.

Hyperrealist Weekend, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 April 2018 The Kunsthal will organise a Hyperrealist Weekend around the themes of the exhibition. On Saturday there will be an in-depth programme with, among other things, lectures, guided tours and film screenings. The Sunday programme, with activities such as workshops in 3D printing, music and dance and a theatre maker teaching you more about body language and poses, encourages visitors of all ages to participate and experience. More information about the programme will follow on

Naked Tour, Saturday 2 June 2018
After the positive experiences during the exhibition ‘Robert Mapplethorpe. A Perfectionist’, the Kunsthal will again offer a Naked Tour. The exhibition ‘Hyperrealism: Sculpture’, focuses on the human body and the Naked Tour provides an extra dimension for visitors who enjoy looking at art together without any clothes on. More information about applications will follow on the Kunsthal website by the end of January.

An education pack (In Dutch) for primary and secondary education will be developed to accompany the exhibition. It will challenge the pupils to think about their own image of humanity and also give them an opportunity to work independently at the KunsthalLAB. On Wednesday 13 March, the Kunsthal will organise an afternoon for teachers. To apply for school visits, the afternoon for teachers and requests for educational material, please visit:

Masterclass for Students and Kunsthal Friends
In 2018, especially for students and Kunsthal Friends, the Kunsthal will again collaborate with the Willem de Kooning Academy to organise a series of Masterclasses during which well-known artists engage in conversation with students. During these Masterclasses, the students will be inspired by these masters and gain insight into their artistic practices. After established names like Peter Lindbergh, Erwin Olaf, Conny Janssen and Rem Koolhaas, we will now work with one of the artists from the exhibition ‘Hyperrealism: Sculpture’. More information will follow on the Kunsthal website and the second press release.

Press Preview
Appointments for press previews can be made by contacting: