Towards the Corner
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jtucker's picture


You know that horrible feeling when everyone gets the joke but you? Juan Muñoz’s work captures just that.

Maybe it's my low self-esteem, but I can’t help but feel that I'm at the butt of that joke. Think about it, they seem to be laughing at us, not with us. Then again, I suppose artists represent in their work what they know best, and Muñoz has often been described as a lively spirit.

These Asian figures are a recurring motif in Muñoz’s work. One potential reason for his infatuation with this subject could be that in European art, the Oriental is believed to represent a sort of je ne sais quoi and exoticism. On the other hand, there is another much more snide reason why Muñoz repeatedly represented Chinese men in his work. You know that totally offensive stereotype that all Asians look the same? Muñoz is playing with that Western notion with his seemingly identical Chinese men. 'For Western people,' Muñoz said, 'it seemed to me that Chinese people are like a visual trick. I would make the noses shorter, the eyes larger, but still they all look like the same guy.' So next time you see a drove of Muñoz Chinese men, take a closer look; maybe you will learn something. If for nothing else though, this highlights one of Muñoz’s greatest tricks of the trade: his undeniable wit.

One of the things Muñoz is best known for was his ability to take inanimate objects, a sculpture, and make them a little too lifelike. Just like those good old teenage years, when looking at his work you are bound to have a whole boatload of seemingly contradictory emotions at the same time. Anxiety seems to marry itself with a jovial playfulness and feelings of uncertainty are quickly followed by a knowing sense of comfort. This impish emotional rollercoaster that Muñoz takes his viewers on has designated him as of one of the most significant Spanish artists, and this work highlights all the quirky features that allowed Muñoz to snag that title.



  1. Hall, James. "The bronze sorcerer." The Guardian. January 11, 2008. Accessed September 5, 2017.
  2. “He Made the World Larger.” The Guardian. September 2, 2001. Accessed September 5, 2017.
  3. “Optical Illusion: Juan Muñoz’s Sculptures.” The Independent. Accessed September 5, 2017.
  4. Taylor, Rachel. “Towards the Corner.” The Tate. June, 2004. Accessed September 5, 2017.
  5. Searle, Adrian. “Juan Muñoz.” The Guardian. August 30, 2001. Accessed August 30, 2017.