Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- Vertigo is a self-portrait sculpture of the artist. He depicts himself wearing a brown suit and a black necktie, with a fearful expression on his face. This solid-wood sculpture is suspended from the ceiling at the NCMA. It appears to be falling through space.
- Artist Bob Trotman is a North Carolina native with a background in woodworking. He made furniture before he began his career as a sculptor.
- The term “vertigo” is a medical condition that causes imbalance and spinning sensations. It is also the title of a classic Alfred Hitchcock film and a novel by W. G. Sebald.
- Vertigo was commissioned for the artist’s solo exhibition, Bob Trotman: Inverted Utopias, at the NCMA.
Artist Bob Trotman is a North Carolina native who began his artistic career as a furniture maker. Eventually he moved away from crafting functional objects to creating sculptures of people. This sculpture is unique because it is the artist’s self-portrait. Trotman’s artistic inspirations include wooden figureheads from ships, carved religious figures, and Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post illustrations. Trotman says he uses these earlier traditions as a “point of departure” for his work. He uses satire to make a social commentary on “the workings of money and power in America today.”
The title refers to a physical sensation of dizziness or an emotional sensation triggered by anxiety or fear. Trotman represents these feelings by suspending the frightened-looking figure from the ceiling so that he appears to be falling from the sky, with the wind whipping through his suit jacket and tie. Trotman’s sculpting technique gives this solid-wood sculpture the illusion of lightness and being in motion.
Vertigo was commissioned for the artist’s 2011 solo show, Bob Trotman: Inverted Utopias. It was the first exhibition in the NCMA’s North Carolina artist gallery.
Resources for Teachers:
- Watch an interview with Bob Trotman.
- Read an article about the artist’s sculptures.
- Watch a video of the artist’s creative process.
Resources for Students: