Erwin Wurm Erwin Wurm

Erwin Wurm

Austrian
b. 1954
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Overview

'The question that has pervaded my work for three decades now is the following: can I use the idea of the sculptural to process everyday life and our time and to gain a new perspective or a new possibility for interpretation?'

Over the course of his career, Erwin Wurm has radically expanded conceptions of sculpture, space and the human form. His sculptures straddle abstraction and representation, presenting familiar objects in a surprising and inventive way that prompts viewers to consider them in a new light. He often explores mundane, everyday decisions as well as existential questions in his works, focusing on the objects that help us cope with daily life and through which we ultimately define ourselves. These include the material objects that surround us – the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the food we eat and the homes we live in.

With his One-Minute Sculptures – in which, using simple props, the viewer becomes the artwork for a limited time – Wurm erases the boundary between sculpture and viewer. The static presence of the sculpture is reversed, becoming instead a participatory process that incorporates the viewer’s own body. The ephemerality of these works subverts the permanence of traditional sculpture, with 'one minute' denoting the brevity of the action rather than a literal timeframe. There is often a contemplative or philosophical dimension to the One-Minute Sculptures, which act as catalysts for a moment of introspection by placing the viewer in an awkward or paradoxical relationship to the prescribed objects. 

Over the course of his career, Erwin Wurm has radically expanded conceptions of sculpture, space and the human form. His sculptures straddle abstraction and representation, presenting familiar objects in a surprising and inventive way that prompts viewers to consider them in a new light. He often explores mundane, everyday decisions as well as existential questions in his works, focusing on the objects that help us cope with daily life and through which we ultimately define ourselves. These include the material objects that surround us – the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the food we eat and the homes we live in.

With his One-Minute Sculptures – in which, using simple props, the viewer becomes the artwork for a limited time – Wurm erases the boundary between sculpture and viewer. The static presence of the sculpture is reversed, becoming instead a participatory process that incorporates the viewer’s own body. The ephemerality of these works subverts the permanence of traditional sculpture, with 'one minute' denoting the brevity of the action rather than a literal timeframe. There is often a contemplative or philosophical dimension to the One-Minute Sculptures, which act as catalysts for a moment of introspection by placing the viewer in an awkward or paradoxical relationship to the prescribed objects. 

Wurm achieves a transformation in the opposite direction when objects or forms in his work assume distinctly human attributes. In his Stone Sculptures and Tall Bags, these anthropomorphised objects are perched on legs with characteristics or postures that evoke distinct personalities. He has also explored clothing as a sculptural theme – as a second skin, protective shell, outline, or the filling out of volume – in large-scale installations where architectural features are dressed in knitted pullovers. The artist views the bodily process of gaining or losing weight in sculptural terms as the addition or subtraction of material, and often creates illusions of growth or shrinkage, as in his Fat Cars or Narrow House. In recent ceramic works, Wurm has abstracted and isolated body parts such as ears, noses, hands or nipples to create surreal and suggestive forms.

Wurm lives and works in Vienna and Limberg, Austria. The artist has twice participated in the Venice Biennale: with his installation Narrow House at the Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti in 2011 and when he represented Austria in 2017. Recent solo museum exhibitions have been held at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (2020); Musée Cantini, Marseille (2019); K11 MUSEA, Hong Kong (2019); Vancouver Art Gallery (2019); Albertina Museum, Vienna (2018); 21er Haus at the Belvedere, Vienna (2017); Leopold Museum, Vienna (2017); Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo (2017); and Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2016).

Videos

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Art Basel 2020 Highlights Erwin Wurm in Conversation with Julia Peyton-Jones

Art Basel 2020 Highlights

Erwin Wurm in Conversation with Julia Peyton-Jones
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Tea with Julia featuring Erwin Wurm (2020); Thaddaeus Ropac

Tea with Julia

Erwin Wurm
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Studio Visit Erwin Wurm

Studio Visit

Erwin Wurm
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Erwin Wurm Look Up: In Conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist

Erwin Wurm

Look Up: In Conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist
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Erwin Wurm New Work

Erwin Wurm

New Work
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Erwin Wurm Angst / Lache Hochgebirge

Erwin Wurm

Angst / Lache Hochgebirge
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Erwin Wurm Wittgensteinian Grammar of Physical Education

Erwin Wurm

Wittgensteinian Grammar of Physical Education

News and Press

News and Press

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