At almost fifteen feet tall Thomas Houseago’s Giant Figure (Cyclops) is monumental in size, a looming and imposing beast. In the spirit of modern sculptor Auguste Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais (1884–95), the monumentality of the work is in sharp contrast to the figure’s ambivalent stance and vulnerable surfaces, and the figure’s foot reaches just over the edge of the plinth, suggesting a life beyond the statue.
Houseago works with traditional materials and classical, mythical, and heroic subject matter, yet he retools the past through the lens of contemporary culture. Giant Figure (Cyclops) stands in a modern version of the contrapposto poses of ancient statues, more an action figure than pristine monument. The form’s weight shifts in the shoulders, rather than the hips, and the brow is cocked in the same trajectory, resulting in a stance that conveys both bravado and insecurity.