On Site: Robert Therrien

November 15, 2010–February 20, 2011
Windhover Hall

Walk under the table, and enter the world of giants.

Measuring ten feet high, twenty feet long, and twelve feet wide, Under the Table (1994) evokes an Alice in Wonderland–type experience and remembrances of childhood. This larger-than-life-size table does not function like other tables, and that’s the point. The artist, Los Angeles–based Robert Therrien (American, b. 1947), intentionally disrupts viewer expectations; his work provides a different perspective on reality, one that is both introspective and playful.

Armed with a black and white Polaroid camera one day, Therrien was compelled to crawl under his dining room table and take photographs. This experience and the resulting pictures inspired the table now installed in Windhover Hall. Under the Table provides Museum visitors with the same opportunity to revisit this perhaps forgotten childhood inquisitiveness and down-up viewpoint. The grand scale of the space complements and amplifies the feeling of being a child in a world of giants.

Therrien has been on the forefront of monumental sculpture for over two decades. His fascination with observing objects (their lines and forms) and ability to tap into a youthful sense of wonder distinguishes his work.

“I try to stay with themes or objects or sources I can trace back to my personal history. The further back I can trace something as being meaningful to me in some way or another…the more I am attracted to it.”

Therrien’s work appears in numerous public collections worldwide, including Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate, London; and The Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Under the Table is on loan to the Milwaukee Art Museum from the Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica.

  • Robert Therrien, Under the Table, 1994. Wood, metal, and enamel. 10 x 20 x 12 ft. overall. The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica. © Robert Therrien. Photo © Douglas M. Parker Studio, Los Angeles.