Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction


Juan Muñoz
1952 - 2001
resin and cable
160 by 85.1 by 69.9cm.
63 by 33 1/2 by 27 1/2 in.
Executed in 1997, this work is unique.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report


Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner


Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution; Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art; Chicago, The Art Institute; Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum, Juan Muñoz, 2002-03, p. 139, no. 55, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Both enigmatic and theatrical, the immediate power of Juan Muñoz’s Hanging Figure, 1997, instantly engages the viewer with its arresting presence and  captures those nuances of gesture that so perfectly reveal human nature in his sculptures.

Muñoz came to international prominence in the mid-1980s when he turned his focus toward the human body; his sculptural installations place the figures and objects in carefully staged formations that hint at unnerving and ambiguous settings within an architectural environment. The way that the viewer encounters a work of art was important to Muñoz. He was fascinated by the tension between the illusory and the real, using tricks of scale and perspective to choreograph the viewer’s experience.

The present works references Edgar Degas’ Mlle La La at the Circus Fernando that famously depicts a circus acrobat hanging by her teeth whilst suspended by a wire.  Through his exploration of sculpture Muñoz’s figure, clothed in grey contemporary clothes, cuts an ambiguous presence that is a departure from the circus atmospherics of Degas’ artiste, and concentrates the viewer to the visual interplay between the figure and its environment. At first glance, the dark silhouette of Hanging Figure cuts an unsettling presence evocative of Francisco de Goya’s hanging figures of wartime victims. Yet the figure is caught in a circle of upward pulling and downward hanging momentum hovering, mid-air exuding a sense of ethereal weightlessness, with its arm extended downwards fingers splayed as if it were an angel ascending to heaven.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction