Erwin Wurm

University of Applied Arts Vienna

Erwin Wurm (b. 1954) is an Austrian artist; since the late 1980s, he has developed an ongoing series of ‘One Minute Sculptures,’ in which he poses himself or his models in unexpected relationships with everyday objects close at hand, prompting the viewer to question the very definition of sculpture. He seeks to use the ‘shortest path’ in creating a sculpture — a clear and fast, sometimes humorous, form of expression. As the sculptures are fleeting and meant to be spontaneous and temporary, the images are only captured in photos or on film.

Most Recently, Erwin Wurm has worked on a series of sculpture titled ‘Fat Car,’ which depict ‘puffy, obese, life-size sculptures that bulge like overfilled sacks.’ The first of this series was developed with Opel designers but they were unsuccessful in achieving the kind of shape that Wurm had in mind. In order to create the quality of fat, the artist uses polyurethane foam and styrofoam covered with lacquer.

Wurm is known for his humorous approach to formalism, in an interview he said: ‘If you approach things with a sense of humor, people immediately assume you’re not to be taken seriously. But I think truths about society and human existence can be approached in different ways. You don’t always have to be deadly serious. Sarcasm and humor can help you see things in a lighter vein.’ Wurm’s work portrays manipulated images of things in everyday life; pieces like ‘Truck,’ where a truck curves up against the building or ‘Narrow House,’ a thin, claustrophobic house, take something familiar to all and distort it by enlarging, curving it, or slimming it down. ‘I will often use humor to seduce people,’ admits Wurm. ‘To get them to move closer, but it’s never very nice when they look closer.’

Wurm is mentioned in the Red Hot Chili Peppers music video ‘Can’t Stop,’ in which a sign states that his art was an inspiration for the video. In a recent iTunes interview Flea is quoted as saying Wurm’s picture of a man with a pencil in his nose was a significant influence on the video (Flea himself appears in the video, at a certain point, with markers in his nostrils, pencils in his ears and paint pot caps over his eyes). The photos in ‘One Minute Sculptures’ were impulsively made and are quite bizarre.

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