Erwin Wurm

2 Jun — 10 Sep 2017 at 21er Haus in Vienna, Austria

10 APRIL 2017
Erwin Wurm. Courtesy of 21er Haus
Erwin Wurm. Courtesy of 21er Haus

Erwin Wurm became a sculptor by chance. Incessantly he questions and investigates the meaning and means of expression in sculpture and object art, thereby breaking with conventions. In the radical nature of his emphatic pursuit of broadening these traditional concepts, Erwin Wurm is reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp, who declared experimental, visual thought his artistic manifesto and hence broke new ground for art.

In this respect, Erwin Wurm’s three-dimensional artworks are also freed from any conventional burden and are thus able to be the products of an entirely open experimental process of thought and creation, which manifests itself in diverse groups of works. Dust Sculptures, Clothes Sculptures, One Minute Sculptures, Photographic Sculptures, Social Sculptures, Abstract Sculptures, Video Sculptures are consciously eloquent examples that embody the artist’s creative strength and method.

Around 1990 the artist found another form of expression in performativity. When creating his performative sculptures – a term that Wurm has claimed for himself alone – he is concerned with a complex process with an admittedly guidable but hardly predictable result. As architecture shares three-dimensionality with sculpture, it was only natural that the artist should at some point turn his hand to it. He has engaged with outstanding examples of architecture, standard buildings and objects of everyday use. His point of departure is clay moulded into the respective form (houses or everyday objects), which is then manipulated by the artist himself. This processing does not take place arbitrarily but rather purposefully, and what remains are the traces of the performative intervention. Tension arises in the dialogue between the prototype and the traces left by the shape-changing performance. The object emerges as both a material and a medium of performed actions.