"Weronika" (2001) by Paweł Althamer

New Museum
Mar 5, 2014 7:32PM

Many of Paweł Althamer’s most affecting works capture members of his immediate family with whom he has collaborated frequently over the years. In 2001, Althamer created a life-size portrait of his daughter Weronika (who was eight years old at the time) for an exhibition in the Swiss mountain village of Amden. The sculpture, viewed to the left of this installation shot, was constructed using the same organic materials as his other early portraits, including Self Portrait (1993) and Study from Nature (1991), and follows the same ancient sculpting traditions, which the artist researched in rural Polish communities. Originally exhibited in a barn alongside drawings made by Weronika herself, the work has the appearance of a simulacrum or a puppet and denotes Althamer’s ability to capture not only the likeness of his subjects, but also the emotional and spiritual connections that bind them. At the same time, the hyperrealistic features of the sculpture produce a disturbing effect that turns this apparently innocent doll into an unearthly creature—a mysterious Golem that underscores how we project life and feelings into inanimate objects.

"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