American sculptor and draughtsman. Based in Los Angeles, CA, he completed an MFA at the Univeristy of Southern California and began his career making reliefs that operated between painting and sculpture, using simplified forms that were generic and instantly recognisable. These works were placed on the wall and painted monochromatically, yet had enough structure to give them the feeling of an object. He also created freestanding works with the same simple, almost abstracted forms. In this early period, Therrien used a limited vocabulary, often working with the same shape in many different sizes and mediums. The motifs he used were linked by their simplicity and ability to evoke personal associations, marrying together a representational function and abstract form. His work took a change of direction in the late 1980s, when he began to make more explicit reference to real objects in his work. He also expanded his work into large installations that examine the viewer's relationship to scale, much as Charles Ray was doing in his own sculpture. Therrien achieved such ends most impressively with his Under the Table (1994; see 2000 exh. cat.), where a kitchen table and chairs are enlarged into giant sculptures raised sufficiently high for one to be able to walk beneath them. Often alluding to modest household items from a domestic context, such as the stack of oversized plates featured in No Title (1999; Los Angeles, CA, Co. Mus. A.), Therrien uses them as elements in abstract sculptural psycho-dramas.
Robert Therrien (exh. cat., essay J. Brown, Los Angeles, CA, Mus. of Contemp. A., 1984)
Robert Therrien (exh. cat., interview and essay M. Rowell, Madrid, Mus. N. Cent. A. Reina Sofía, 1991)
Robert Therrien (exh. cat., essays N. Bryson, L. Zelevansky and T. Frick, Los Angeles, CA, Co. Mus. A., 2000)
10 December 2000