Nic Nicosia’s bighands is a big deal – and now the Nasher Sculpture Center will be home to the stainless-steel sculpture.
The work, commissioned by the Nasher, comes to the collection through the generous support of a group of patrons and admirers of Nicosia’s decades-long artistic practice.
Nicosia makes his home in the Preston Hollow area, not far from Russwood Acres.
“It has been tremendous to witness the support for Nic and his ambitious foray into large-scale sculpture by the patrons and friends who came together to help bring this work to fruition,” said director Jeremy Strick. “bighands promises to bring delight to our Nasher visitors, while compelling a thoughtful inquiry into the powerful language of bodily gestures.”
Best known for his work in photography and film, in the last decade, Nicosia began to make independent sculptures, but his photography has relied on the production of hand-made objects and constructed sets throughout his career. Early experiments in paper clay and hydrocal included a group of eccentric personages reminiscent of works by Max Ernst, whimsical wire portraits harkening back to the early work of Alexander Calder, and anonymous male figures taking on various poses and personas.
Many of these were made independently of his photography, but they soon began to populate the models for his staged photographs and, more recently, real domestic interiors, resulting in images that confound reality and artifice.
Nicosia recently began to work with a foundry to cast several of these compositions and enlarge others. One of these is the Nasher acquisition bighands, 2010 (enlarged and cast 2020). The figure is bald with no distinguishing facial features, male, but with no genitalia. Over 8 feet tall, the figure’s hands and feet are oversized. These disproportionate features effect a jarring shift in scale that is at once humorous and confrontational.
The gesture, enlarged as it is, is nonetheless ambiguous. With one foot slightly in front of the other, the figure could be making an emphatic call to halt, pushing back against something, or simply presenting his hands — the body part that distinguishes humans as a species and individually — as an existential gesture: I am here; this is me. The hands on the model are Nicosia’s, making it an unusual and powerful self-portrait.
The work by Nic Nicosia is a significant addition to the Nasher collection. It is the first work by this renowned contemporary artist and Dallas native to enter the collection, and the most significant addition to the expanding representation of noteworthy works by important Texas artists, such as David Bates, Jim Love, James Magee, and David McManaway. It extends the collection’s representation of the figurative tradition in sculpture, resonating strongly with powerful, generalized figures by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Jonathan Borofsky, and Antony Gormley, as well as with the shifts in scale and existentialist tone in the work of Alberto Giacometti.
The first enlarged cast of this composition, bighands is also unique in another way: it is the only large-scale sculpture by the artist in any museum collection to date.