Erwin Wurm. Performative Sculptures

There is no avoiding Erwin Wurm in 2017.  Internationally represented in several major exhibitions, his works are on display alongside Brigitte Kowanz at the Austrian Pavilion of this year’s Art Biennial in Venice. Starting in June, the 21er Haus shows his statues and performative sculptures.

Erwin Wurm has been exploring the expressive possibilities of sculpture for more than 30 years. His diverse oeuvre is as profound as it can be ironic and encompasses almost all genres, extending the concept of sculpture by incorporating interactive, social, and temporal aspects. In his approach, even adhering to a series of instructions for action can become a sculpture. The radicalism of his venture to expand on conventional categorizations is reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp, who declared experimental, visual thinking as an artistic programme that enables new avenues for art to open up.

Around 1990, Wurm found a new form of expression with his performative sculptures – a new term that the artist claimed for himself. The solo exhibition at the 21er Haus comprises upwards of 40 performative sculptures and statues, including a series of new works which Wurm developed especially for the show. In his most recent work, he deals with extraordinary examples of architecture and objects of daily use. The starting point is represented by models and blocks of clay, which are usually processed by Wurm himself or other people whom he instructs. Tension arises in the dialogue between the original form of objects and the traces left by the performative interventions, turning the body into the material and the medium of action. In the exhibition, the works of clay are juxtaposed with castings made of bronze, aluminium, iron, or polyester resin.

Curated by Severin Dünser and Alfred Weidinger.

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