Please wait

Agnes Denes

Human Hang-Up Machine



Agnes Denes (1931-)


Human Hang-Up Machine




Pen and ink on paper


Sheet: 11 × 16 1/2 in. (27.9 × 41.9 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art by exchange, and the Postwar Committee

Accession number


Object Label

Best known for her environmental projects in which she works directly with the land (for example, planting wheat, or reclaiming earth previously used for industrial purposes), Agnes Denes began her career as a painter and has worked in various media. For Denes, drawing became an important tool that allowed her to visualize complex ideas and analytical concepts. This drawing combines the artist’s interests in philosophy, science, psychology, and myth. Human Hang-Up Machine displays a series of interrelated parts that appear to be the blueprint of a device. But closer inspection reveals its hypothetical, even fantastic, status as a mechanism that weighs “positive thought” against the constants of time, evolution, and other abstractions.