"Self Portait as Billy the Goat" (2011) by Paweł Althamer

New Museum
Mar 5, 2014 7:27PM

Koziołek Matołek (Matołek the Billy Goat) is a popular Polish cartoon first created in the 1930s. The story recounts the voyages of the titular character who travels the world searching for the small town of Pacanów—apparently the only place where they shoe goats. Over the past seventy years, the curious and hapless goat has become an iconic character for Polish children and adults. In 2011, Paweł Althamer traveled to Brazil and Mali dressed as Matołek, painted white and wearing a goat mask and red shorts. In this costume, he explored various sites and interacted with curious onlookers. Following these journeys, Althamer created Self Portrait as the Billy Goat (2011), naked and seated in a pose of thoughtful reflection. The figure represents the spirit of exploration and discovery that is characteristic of the artist’s approach to art and life, viewing the disparate figures he creates as totems in which viewers can recognize themselves as well as find community.

"Paweł Althamer: The Neighbors" is on view from February 12 to April 13, 2014

Image: Courtesy New Museum, New York. Photo Benoit Pailley

New Museum