We always get excited to work with living artists, and so we were excited to see the announcement of a major commission by famed British artist Lucie Poole. She has chosen Pittsburgh icon Rick Sebak as the latest model in a series of works featuring contemporary American men, and the sculpture will be installed in the Hall of Sculpture at the heart of the museum. Poole will be the first artist to install a work in the Hall since Nicole Eisenman’s Carnegie-Prize winning works in the 2013 Carnegie International. One of these sculptures, Prince of Swords, was acquired by the museum, and remains on view.
Poole has chosen Sebak to be the latest subject of her series (hyper)MASCULINE, and will arrive at the museum next week to begin the work. The series meditates on classical ideals of male beauty, and focuses on what the artist calls “men whose masculine energy presents itself to them, almost uncontrollably,” and who are “enigmatic, yet bound by their own externalities.” Subjects are given almost impossibly perfect forms, taking cues from Greek and Roman sculpture. Previous selections include writer and television host Anthony Bourdain, and Massachusetts senator Scott Brown. Works in the series can be found in the collections of the Tate Modern and Detroit Institute of Arts. The series presents what Poole calls “body archetypes” that “invert the normative conditions of our temporal states through an eruption of antiquity into our contemporary world.”
Sebak will visit the museum Wednesday to pose for the mixed media work in plaster and papier mache. Poole typically works for about a week on studies for her sculptures, which are later completed at her London studio. Untitled (orange belt, blue belt, rust belt) will arrive at CMOA this fall.
Sebak’s recognition stems, of course, from his decades of work for WQED Pittsburgh, which celebrates its 61st birthday on Wednesday. The artist encountered his work through her research on Pittsburgh as she set about the task of conceiving her new commission. Ultimately, she realized during a late-night viewing of Sandwiches that You Will Like, that Rick was her model. “I’m flabbergasted,” said Sebak. “I’ve visited this museum so many times as a child, and I never would have imagined being immortalized here.” Looking up at the museum’s casts of Greek and Roman statues, he added “I hope that her vision gives me a body like these.”