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Erwin Wurm

Austrian, born 1954

© 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VBK, Vienna

Jakob/Big Psycho VII, 2010

Aluminum and paint, edition 5/6
47 1/4 x 15 3/8 x 42 1/8 inches (120 x 39 x 107 cm)
Sherman S. Jewett Fund, by exchange, Gift of Baroness Alphonse de Rothschild, by exchange and Gift of Mrs. Seymour H. Knox, Sr., by exchange, 2011

Erwin Wurm’s sculptural works consist of varied media—verbal instruction, trivial objects, the viewer/user, photography, and video. Since the late 1980s, Wurm has developed an ongoing series of “One Minute Sculptures” in which he poses himself or his models in unexpected relationships with everyday objects. These behavioral sculptures take on an urgency—a clear, fast, unusually humorous form of expression. Wurm invites his audience to participate in the creation of temporary sculptures by using their bodies to interact with a variety of common objects according to his instructional drawings. The sculptures are fleeting, spontaneous, and temporary. The ambiguity of “what-is and what-is-not art,” a question that Wurm presents to his participants, can only be considered upon viewing the sculptures’ photo or video documentation. Through his use of “super-sized” houses, automobiles, police helmets, and a variety of other larger-than-life objects, and with his depictions of people participating in less-than-couth activities (spitting in soup or picking their noses), Wurm offers a comical and satirical commentary on our time. 

More about the artist

Erwin Wurm was born in Bruck an der Mur/Styria, Austria, in 1954. Known for his uniquely humorous approach to formalism, Wurm creates multi-disciplinary works that have appeared in exhibitions worldwide. Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Institute of Contemporary Art—Sofia, Bulgaria (2011); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2010); Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2010); Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland (2008); Kunsthaus Zurich (2007); Musée d'art contemporain de Lyon, France (2007); and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2005), with forthcoming exhibitions at CAC Málaga—Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Málaga, Spain, and the Dallas Museum of Art in 2012. Wurm’s work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions, including, most recently, the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); and the Third Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art (2009). His work is included in numerous collections throughout the world, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museum Ludwig; Kunstmuseum St. Gallen; Musèe d'art contemporain de Lyon; and Centre Pompidou, Paris, among others. He currently lives and works in Vienna, Austria.

Related Lesson Plan

Experiencing Sculpture (For Grades K–12)


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