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Liberty

Hank Willis Thomas

Contemporary Art

In Liberty, Hank Willis Thomas renders a two-dimensional image as a three-dimensional sculpture. The original photograph appeared in Life Magazine in 1986 and featured a Harlem Globetrotter in front of the Statue of Liberty, spinning a basketball on his finger. Interested in popular culture, photographic history, and sports as a metaphor for individual and collective struggle, Thomas created a lifesize sculpture of the moment by casting the arm of retired NBA All-Star Juwan Howard.

Liberty is part of Thomas’s Punctum series, which draws inspiration from the French philosopher Roland Barthes’s idea of the punctum: that “element which rises from the [photographic] scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces.” Using this concept as his foundation, Thomas selects a specific area of an image and re-presents it as sculpture. Through cropping and isolation, he encourages us to contemplate framing itself: what is left in or out of a photograph, narrative, or account of a historical event, and why?
MEDIUM Fiberglass, chameleon auto paint finish
DATES 2015
DIMENSIONS 35 x 10 x 10 in. (88.9 x 25.4 x 25.4 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 2015.57a-b
EDITION Edition: 2/3, (2 AP)
CREDIT LINE Gift of the artist and Jack Shainman in honor of Arnold Lehman
RIGHTS STATEMENT © Hank Willis Thomas
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CAPTION Hank Willis Thomas (American, born 1976). Liberty, 2015. Fiberglass, chameleon auto paint finish, 35 x 10 x 10 in. (88.9 x 25.4 x 25.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the artist and Jack Shainman in honor of Arnold Lehman, 2015.57a-b. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2015.57a-b_PS11.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 2015.57a-b_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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Hank Willis Thomas (American, born 1976). <em>Liberty</em>, 2015. Fiberglass, chameleon auto paint finish, 35 x 10 x 10 in. (88.9 x 25.4 x 25.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the artist and Jack Shainman in honor of Arnold Lehman, 2015.57a-b. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2015.57a-b_PS11.jpg)