Huma Bhabha

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Huma Bhabha
Born1962 (age 56–57)
EducationRhode Island School of Design,
Columbia University
Known forSculpture

Huma Bhabha (born 1962) is a Pakistani-American sculptor based in Poughkeepsie, New York.[1] Known for her uniquely grotesque, figurative forms that often appear dissected or dismembered, Bhabha often uses found materials in her sculptures, including styrofoam, cork, rubber, paper, wire, and clay. She occasionally incorporates objects given to her by other people into her artwork.[2] Many of these sculptures are also cast in bronze. She is equally prolific in her works on paper, creating vivid pastel drawings, eerie photographic collages, and haunting print editions.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Huma Bhabha was born in Karachi, Pakistan.[4] Her mother was an artist, though did not work as one professionally. Huma's childhood home was full of art books, and her mother would often help her with projects. By high school, Huma enjoyed drawing and painting and had started to think about becoming a professional artist.[5]

She received her B.F.A. at the Rhode Island School of Design (1985), where she majored in printmaking while also taking classes in painting.[5][6] After graduating, she returned to Pakistan for nearly 2 years. After her father passed away in 1986, she returned to the United States and attended Columbia University, where she earned her M.F.A. (1989).[5][7] While at Colombia she made paintings using found wood and metal instead of canvas, which allowed her to incorporate formal qualities such as shape, space, and color.[5] Starting in her second year at Colombia she worked as an assistant to artist Meyer Vaisman, from whom she learned how to be a professional artist. She continued working for him after she graduated and leveraged the professional connection to network and meet people in the art world.[5]

She lived in New York City until 2002, at which point she moved to Poughkeepsie, New York, where she currently resides and works. [2][8] She lives with her husband, Jason Fox, who is also an artist and whom she married in 1990.[5]


Bhabha describes her sculptures as “characters” that, through their materiality, rough construction, and references to the history of sculpture, become rich screens for projections of psychological depth. Bhabha's work draws from a broad and eclectic range of influences, incorporating art-historical references to everything from classical and African sculpture to the works of modernists like Picasso, Brancusi, and Giacometti. At the same time, the works also recall elements of popular culture, especially the dystopic visions of science-fiction pioneers Philip K. Dick and J.G. Ballard[9]. She has also noted that science-fiction and horror films, particularly the work of David Cronenberg, have contributed to motifs of puppetry and mutation in her work[10]. Between 2002 and 2004, Bhabha worked for a taxidermist, through which she obtained discarded animal skulls. Some of these skulls have appeared in her work.[11]

Huma never studied sculpture in art school, so her pieces were originally created through a process of trial and error. She originally started experimenting with plastics, foam rubber, and spray paint, as well as found objects such as feathers and panty hose. By 1992, she knew she wanted to create three-dimensional works.[5]

In 2000, she began to incorporate elements of Robert Rauschenberg's style of immediacy into her works. She was particularly struck by his piece, Centaur, because it was different from what she had been doing and referenced other kinds of art she liked.[5] Until that moment, she had always felt her work had a defined process: a beginning, a middle, and an end. After this stylistic shift, she realized she could organically choose a stopping point when she felt that her work had reached an interesting stage. This mentality is what lead her to produce one of her most recognizable pieces, Untitled, in 2001. She was in the midst of sculpting a clay figure when she discovered that the plastic bag she was using to keep the clay moist could serve double purpose as a sculptural element in itself. The figure resembled a body bag or a Muslim praying, which was especially relevant to her in light of the recently started war in Afghanistan.

She says of her own work, “I’m interested in a suicide of the self when I make the work: no country, no gender, etc. I don't want the work to be tied to any one specific self or ideology. When you are nothing, you can become everything.”[12]


Bhabha's work has been featured in exhibitions widely in North America and Europe, including major group exhibitions such as "Fourth Plinth Shortlist Exhibition" at the National Gallery, London,[13] Greater New York at MoMA PS1 (2005 and 2015); Heritage Store Rosewater Spray with Atomizer 8-Ounce Bottle[14] USA Today: New American Art from the Saatchi Gallery at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2006; traveled to the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2007);[15] the 2008 Gwangju Biennial; the 2012 Paris Triennial; the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010 and 2011);[16][17] the 2010 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York;[18] and the 2015 Venice Biennale.[19]

The artist’s first solo museum exhibition took place in 2008 at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. She has also had solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1 (2012–2013),[20][21] Collezione Marmotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy (2012),[22] and the Aspen Art Museum in Aspen (2011–2012).[23] Bhabha created a site-specific work titled "We Come in Peace" for the roof garden at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2018).[24]

Awards and Grants[edit]

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut, awarded its 2008 Emerging Artist Award to Bhabha. The award came with a $5,000 prize and a solo exhibition at the museum (September 14, 2008 – February 8, 2009).[25] Her first solo museum exhibition in New York was in 2012 at MoMA PS1: Huma Bhabha: Unnatural Histories was organized by Peter Eleey, Curator, MoMA PS1, with Lizzie Gorfaine, Curatorial Assistant (November 18, 2012 – April 1, 2013).[26][27]

Bhabha was featured as one of sixteen creative thinkers in the 2012 film From Nothing, Something: A documentary on the creative process, which has screened at multiple film festivals including the Newport Beach Film Festival.[28][29]

In 2013 Bhabha was awarded a Berlin Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin.[30] In 2016 she was honored by the Museum of Modern Art, New York during the museum's annual "Party in the Garden" celebration,[31] and also served on the jury of the prestigious Nasher Prize, awarded by the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (the prize was awarded in 2017 to artist Pierre Huygue).[32][33]


Huma Bhabha's work is included in the following public collections:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Union List of Artist Names Online (ULAN) Full Record Display for Bhabha, Huma". Getty Research. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  2. ^ a b Trigg, Sarah. "Canines to Cannabis in Artist Huma Bhabha's New Show". Vulture. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  3. ^ "Huma Bhabha (Artist Page)". Niels Borch Jensen Gallery & Editions. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  4. ^ "Huma Bhabha Named Artist for The Met's 2018 Cantor Roof Garden Commission". ArtfixDaily. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "In the Studio: Huma Bhabha". Art in America. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  6. ^ "Hip-Hop-Era Giacometti". Our RISD. Retrieved 2016-11-13.
  7. ^ "Huma Bhabha ('89) in ICP Triennial". Columbia University, Visual Arts Program. 2013-05-13. Retrieved 2016-11-13.
  8. ^ "Huma Bhabha, Artist". Yale University School of Art. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Huma Bhabha". Aspen Art Museum.
  10. ^ Sheets, Hilarie. "Where Pharaohs Meet Mad Max". ARTnews. ARTnews. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  11. ^ Trigg, Sarah. "Canines to Cannabis in Artist Huma Bhabha's New Show". Vulture. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Huma Bhabha". Flash Art. 2016-03-17. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  13. ^ "Fourth Plinth Shortlist Exhibition, National Gallery". London Assembly.
  14. ^ "MoMA PS1: Exhibitions: Greater New York (2015)". Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  15. ^ "USA Today". Saatchi Gallery. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  16. ^ "Contemporary Art from the Collection | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  17. ^ "Contemporary Collection | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  18. ^ "2010 Whitney Biennial". Whitney Museum of American Art. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  19. ^ "Huma Bhabha . All the World's Futures: Giardini". Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  20. ^ "Exhibitions: Huma Bhabha: Unnatural Histories". MoMA PS1. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  21. ^ Rosenberg, Karen (2012-12-06). "'Huma Bhabha: Unnatural Histories' at MoMA PS1". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  22. ^ Chimento, Fulvio (2012-03-10). "HUMA BHABHA ON SHOW :: MARAMOTTI COLLECTION". DROME magazine. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  23. ^ "Huma Bhabha - Aspen Art Museum". Aspen Art Museum. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  24. ^ Loos, Ted (2018-03-10). "Huma Bhabha Takes an Ax to Her Exhibit at the Met". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  25. ^ Aldrich Award Goes to Sculptor Huma Bhabha, ARTINFO, March 6, 2008, retrieved 2008-05-19
  26. ^ "MoMA PS1: Exhibitions: Huma Bhabha: Unnatural Histories". Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  27. ^ Rosenberg, Karen (2012-12-06). "'Huma Bhabha: Unnatural Histories' at MoMA PS1". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  28. ^ From Nothing, Something film web site, accessed 2013-04-29.
  29. ^ Cawley, Tim; Bamford, Maria; Bawendi, Moungi; Bhabha, Huma (2012-05-02), From Nothing, Something: A Documentary on the Creative Process, retrieved 2017-01-09
  30. ^ "Huma Bhabha". American Academy in Berlin. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  31. ^ Weisblum, Vida (June 2, 2016). "MoMA's Annual 'Party in the Garden' Draws Celebs, Half the Rockefeller Fam". The Observer. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  32. ^ Center, Nasher Sculpture. "Nasher Sculpture Center Announces Pierre Huyghe as Winner of the 2017 Nasher Prize | News & Press - Press Release". Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  33. ^ Kennedy, Randy (2016-09-26). "Pierre Huyghe Wins Nasher Sculpture Prize". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  34. ^ "Works by Huma Bhabha :: The Collection". Art Gallery of New South Wales (NSW). Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  35. ^ "Huma Bhabha". Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  36. ^ "Selections from The Bronx Museum of the Arts' permanent collection - Exhibitions". The Bronx Museum of the Arts. 2014. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  37. ^ "Search the Collection". The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  38. ^ "Arts and Artists: Huma Bhabha". The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  39. ^ "Huma Bhabha | Untitled". The Metropolitan Museum of Art, i.e. The Met Museum. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  40. ^ "Recent Acquisitions: Prints and Photographs Opens on April 22 at The New York Public Library". The New York Public Library. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  41. ^ "View 2, Recent Acquisitions for the Nerman Museum". Nerman Museum. 2006. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  42. ^ "Collection, Sans titre". Centre Pompidou. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  43. ^ "Collection". Whitney Museum of American Art. Retrieved 2018-02-27.

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