Pawel Althamer casts his collaborators at Venice

Polish sculptor's figurative sculpture series Venetians 2013 is a hit at the Biennale
Pawel Althamer at his father's plastics factory, 2011
Pawel Althamer at his father's plastics factory, 2011




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No one can deny Pawel Althamer's energy. Within the past few years, the artist has travelled to Mali dressed as a cartoon goat, 'explored' Belgium, Brazil and England with his band of willing travellers, each wearing a golden coloured astronaut's suit, and has cast masks of his friends' faces for an ongoing series of works which explore our bodily presence, and the illusive soul, located somewhere within.

His latest hit series is Venetians (2013); a set of 90 figurative sculptures currently on show in Venice's Arsenale as part of the 55th International Art Exhibition.

These pieces were created with the help of Althamer's father's plastics firm; their face masks were cast from the features of Althamer's close circle of collaborators, and then set onto spindly, prolapsed bodies, which neither seem to celebrate, nor despair in the human form, but find some diffident note, somewhere inbetween. As Althamer explains in his typically exuberant style in the video below, they appear to be neither "not dancing or playing, just being."


Detail from Venetians (2013) by Pawel Althamer

Detail from Venetians (2013) by Pawel Althamer

It's an engaging, thought-provoking inclusion at Venice, from a creative who has long distanced himself from the idea of the artist as a lone genius, delving for meaning and insight within his own, individual soul.

For a more prosaic example of what's going on in Althamer's head, go to Venice's Tre Oci gallery, where the artist is sharing a show with Anatoly Osmolovsky. Entitled Parallel Convergences, and running until the beginning of October, the exhibition features a series of short films of Althamer under the influence of LSD, psychoactive mushrooms, truth serum, cannabis, and other drugs, as well as hypnosis and similiar non-pharmacological mind bending techniques. Dubbed So-called Waves and Other Phenomena of the Mind, the series is offset by Weronika (2004) which documents his daughter's birth and early life, as she also explores the world as it appears to her.


Whether examining inner space, or the immediate world around us, Althamer makes even the most workaday experience seem like a giant leap for mankind.

To find our more about the international exhibition, go here. For the Tre Oci show, it's here. For a greater understanding of this important contemporary artist, please take a look at our wonderful, comprehensive monograph on him. If you're a big Althamer fan we still have a few left of our limited edition collector's edition format featuring the sculpture, Nomo from Mars, which you can read about top right. 


  • Pawel Althamer
  • Pawel Althamer
  • Pawel Althamer
Pawel Althamer (b.1967) originally trained as a sculptor, but today he combines his object-making with pioneering work in social, collaborative and participatory art. For the ongoing project Common Task, begun in 2008, he enlists his Warsaw neighbours, whom he outfits in golden space suits, to travel with him to distant lands. Through the fantasy of space travel, he reframes mundane reality as a zone of mystery and possibility, expanding the act of art-making to encompass the activities of the entire group.

The statuette Nomo From Mars is based on the life-size sculpture Nomo, which Althamer created in 2009 to commemorate a Common Task expedition to Mali in Africa. The brass figurine, with its flaking polychrome finish, evokes a relic from another place and time, just as the shape of its helmet recalls the masks of the Dogon tribe, whose village the Common Task group visited on their African journey.

Pawel Althamer: Nomo from Mars, 2011


Pawel Althamer
Wilhelm Sasnal
Anri Sala
Chris Johanson

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