Urgent Museum Notice

Patricia Piccinini

A color photograph of Patricia Piccinini. The light-skinned woman stands with her arms folded in front of her, smiling, wearing a dark sweater. Her brunette hair falls softly to her chest. She wears an ornate silver-colored necklace with jewel-colored ornaments.

Photo by Alli Oughtred

Born in 1965

Expanding the hyperrealist tradition in sculpture, Piccinini uses an array of materials—including silicone, leather, and human hair—to form beings that might result from genetic science. Beasties with soulful brown eyes and long ears, scales, or webbed extremities, appear simultaneously appealing and grotesque.

In the mid-2000s, Piccinini began imagining  machines that develop animalistic behaviors, becoming autonomous organisms. She created futuristic sculptures made from fiberglass, steel, and leather, that resemble mutated motor scooters and racing helmets. Both impressive and disconcerting, these sculptures intimate that humans can manipulate but not control life or evolution.

Piccinini first earned a degree in economic history and then a B.A. in painting. Early in her career, she spent time in medical museums making drawings of preserved specimens. Her studies of pathologies and aberrations of anatomy influenced her sculptures.

All of Piccinini’s works begin with her drawings, which she and a small team of technicians translate into three-dimensional objects. They use traditional processes (such as hand-sculpted plasticine models), as well as computer-based techniques like CNC milling and 3D-printing to test ideas before fabricating finished works.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Patricia Piccinini
  • Birth

    Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1965

Works by Patricia Piccinini

The Stags

Patricia Piccinini’s witty sculpture The Stags presents two mutated motor scooters as living creatures, sparring like male deer in the wild. The scooters’ multiple rear view mirrors appear like entangled antlers, and one motorbike presses its front tire on the “haunch” of the other in a gesture of play or dominance.

The deeper-colored scooter, with its handlebars in a downturned position, evinces...

A sculpture consists of two metallic-orange motor scooters manipulated to resemble male deer. Leather seats become haunches, dashboard dials resemble faces, and multiple rear-view mirrors morph into antlers. The serpentine, hybrid animal-machines appear to spar for dominance.