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Collection > Robert Gober >

Cigar

1991

  • Medium

    Wood, paint, paper, and tobacco

  • Dimensions

    12 x 12 x 72 in. (30.48 x 30.48 x 182.88 cm)

  • Credit

    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    Purchase with funds provided by the Collectors Committee in honor of Marcia Simon Weisman

  • Accession number

    92.19

  • Object label

    Robert Gober’s Cigar is simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary. Made with tobacco leaf, rolled in a cigar wrapper, and ringed with a paper band, its materials are real, while its bodily scale and its double-headed structure are surreal. Another contradictory pair of terms, conscious and unconscious, is also at play. A cigar is a clichéd example of a phallic symbol and an object of oral fixation, so commonly interpreted as a representation of a repressed, unconscious desire in Freudian psychoanalysis that the light-hearted quip “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” is equally well known. Gober’s sculpture gives form to the way in which a deep-seated image, often a memory, fantasy, or nightmare from childhood, can lurk subliminally in one’s mind, where it takes on added, laden meanings, and then suddenly erupt in one’s consciousness. This process is mirrored in the viewer’s experience of unexpectedly encountering an uncanny, familiar yet unfamiliar object on the museum floor.