Representing the Figure

Marisol, David Hammons, and Jonathan Borofsky represent the human figure in diverse and unexpected ways. Marisol included plaster casts of her own face, drawing, painting, and real objects—a photograph of herself, pocket book, and taxidermied dog’s head—in Women and Dog (1963-64). David Hammons used hair, rocks, teabags, beads, feathers, and pantyhose in his sculpture, and Borofsky’s running people can be installed differently each time on walls and ceilings.

Ask your students to create a flashlight figure mural. Tape butcher paper to your classroom walls, including the corners and uneven surfaces. Have students take turns being models, lighting crew, and artists. Ask students to use flashlights to project shadows onto the paper. Have them use markers to draw the outlines of the shadows on the paper. Students can play with scale, distortion, parts and whole, and layering. Encourage students to draw on the paper in the corners of the classroom or on uneven surfaces.

Switch on the classroom lights and have students add color and pattern to their figure mural. What did they find challenging, fun, or unexpected about this process?

A mural faces the gallery windows and the Hudson River.

Running People at 2,616,216 (1978–79) by Jonathan Borofsky installed on the West Ambulatory, 5th floor, the inaugural exhibition, America Is Hard to See (May 1–September 27, 2015). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Photograph © Nic Lehoux

David Hammons, _Untitled_, 1992. Copper, wire, hair, stone, fabric, and thread, height 60 in. (152.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Mrs. Percy Uris Bequest and the Painting and Sculpture Committee 92.128a-u

People and a dog in sculpture.

Marisol (b. 1930). Women and Dog, (1963–1964). Wood, plaster, synthetic polymer, taxidermied dog head and miscellaneous items, 73 9/16 × 76 5/8 × 26 3/4in. (186.8 × 194.6 × 67.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art 64.17a‑i Art © Marison, Licensed by VAGA, New York, N.Y.