Rachel Harrison, Jack Lemmon, 2011. Wood, cement, polystyrene, acrylic, spray paint, mannequin, Dick Cheney mask, sweatshirt, sunglasses, glasses, butterfly net, and plastic lemon, 67 x 90 x 33 inches (170.2 x 228.6 x 83.8 cm). Gift of Barbara Lee, The Barbara Lee Collection of Art by Women. Courtesy the Artist and Greene Naftali, New York. Photograph John Berens. © Rachel Harrison
By combining disparate elements—some readymade and some crafted—Rachel Harrison challenges viewers to explore layers of metaphor, allusion, and double-entendre. Since the early 1990s, she has been recognized for the wry humor she brings to political satire. As grotesque as they are humorous, Harrison’s sculptures evince her consideration of the global traffic of pop-culture images as well as their correspondence with art history. Her work is often considered alongside other contemporary assemblage sculptors such as Isa Genzken, Paul McCarthy, and Franz West.
Jack Lemmon shares the same name as the comic actor, who was commonly referred to as “Dickhead” by his co-star in the film version of The Odd Couple. The sculpture also prominently features a rubber mask of Dick Cheney—a figure many hold responsible for the controversial political policies of the last decade—as one side of the mannequin’s head. Whether sociopolitical satire or sheer folly, the sculpture is purposefully playful and ambiguous, inviting viewers to build narratives by interpreting complementary elements. As Harrison argues in a 2008 interview in Bomb, “Artworks need to unfold slowly over time in real space to contest the instantaneous distribution and circulation of images with which we’ve become so familiar.”
The addition of Jack Lemmon enhances the ICA/Boston’s growing collection of sculpture, which includes works by Louise Bourgeois, Tara Donovan, Mona Hatoum, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Cornelia Parker, and adds a new dimension by representing politically engaged figurative sculpture.