Erwin Wurm (b. 1954 Bruck an der Mur/Styria, Austria; lives and works in Vienna and Limberg, Austria) came to prominence with his One Minute Sculptures, a project that he began in 1996/1997. In these works, Wurm gives written or drawn instructions to participants that indicate actions or poses to perform with everyday objects such as chairs, buckets, fruit, or knit sweaters. These sculptures are by nature ephemeral, and by incorporating photography and performance into the process Wurm challenges the formal qualities of the medium as well as the boundaries between performance and daily life and spectator and participant. While in this series he explores the idea of the human body as sculpture, in some of his more recent work he anthropomorphizes everyday objects in unsettling ways, like contorting sausage-like forms into bronze sculptures in Abstract Sculptures, or distorting and bloating the volume and shape of a car in Fat Car. Wurm considers the physical act of gaining and losing weight a sculptural gesture, and often creates the illusion of bodily growth or shrinkage in his work. While Wurm considers humor an important tool in his work, there is always an underlying social critique of contemporary culture, particularly in response to the capitalist influences and resulting societal pressures that the artist sees as contrary to our internal ideals. Wurm emphasizes this dichotomy by working within the liminal space between high and low and merging genres to explore what he views as a farcical and invented reality.
Erwin Wurm graduated from University of Graz, Austria, in 1977, and Gestaltungslehre University of Applied Art and Academy of Fine Art, Vienna in 1982. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg Villa Kast, Salzburg, Austria (2019); Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (2019); Vieille Charité, Marseille, France (2019); Musée Cantini, Marseille, France (2019); Musée d’Art Contemporain, Marseille, France (2019); Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong (2019); The Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria (2018); Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary (2018); Kunstmuseum Luzern, Luzern, Switzerland (2018); Public Art Fund, New York, NY (2018); Ayala Museum, Manila, Philippines (2018); 21er Haus, Belvedere, Vienna, Austria (2017); Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, Duisburg, Germany (2017); Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria (2017); Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil (2017); Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, Germany (2016); Schindler House, MAK Center for Art and Architecture, West Hollywood, CA (2016); Bangkok Art and Culture Center, Thailand (2016); Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN (2015); Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków, Poland (2013); Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain (2012); and Dallas Contemporary, TX (2012). Select group exhibitions featuring his work include This is not a body. 50 Years of Hyperrealistic Sculpture, La Boverie, Liège, Belgium (2019); Objects of Wonder – from Pedestal to Interaction, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Aarhus, Denmark (2019); ArtZuid Amsterdam Sculpture Biennial, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2019); Der Traum der Bibliothek, Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Siegen, Germany (2019); More For Less, A4 Arts Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa (2018); Playtime, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA (2018); ENJOY, Cloister Bramante, Rome, Italy (2017); Performative One Minute Sculptures, Austrian Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2017); Performing for the Camera, Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom (2016); Precarious Balance, Centre of Contemporary Art, Christchurch, New Zealand (2016); Desire for Freedom, Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków, Poland (2013); HEIMsuchung: Uncanny Spaces in Contemporary Art, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2013); The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today, Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland, traveled to The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011); and Temporary Structures: Performing Architecture in Contemporary Art, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA (2011).
Wurm’s work is in numerous international public and private collections, including the Albertina, Vienna, Austria; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; CAC Málaga – Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Málaga, Spain; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, the Netherlands; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA; Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, Austria; Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, Germany; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark; Middelheimmuseum, Antwerp, Belgium; Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, Lyon, France; Museion – Museo d`Arte Moderne e Contemporanea Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy; Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria; Museum für moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, Netherlands; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, Austria; Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Smart Museum of Art - The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Städel Museum, Frankfurt, Germany; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich, Germany; Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; and the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany.
In 2011, Wurm’s Narrow House was installed at the Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti as part of Glasstress 2011, a collateral event of the 54th Venice Biennale. In 2017, Wurm returned to Venice for the 57th Biennale, where he represented Austria.