See Erwin Wurm’s Absurdist Sculptures Take Over a U.K. Park, From a Birkin Bag on Legs to a Bendy Truck Climbing the Wall

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Absurdity takes centre stage in a new retrospective of sculptural works by the playful Austrian artist Erwin Wurm at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in northern England. Over decades, Wurm has become know for works that interrupt our everyday perception of the world, distorting or anthropomorphizing familiar objects and poking fun at rigid societal norms.

Trap of the Truth” is named for the philosophical interrogations of René Descartes, emphasizing the inevitable subjectivity of our interactions with the world. Among the highlights are Wurm’s famed “One Minute Sculptures,” like (2010) and (2017), performative works in which a human fails to use an everyday object in the proper way and ends up trapped in a ridiculous position.

Several new, unseen sculptures include (2022), which lampoons society’s obsession with conspicuous consumption by inflating a Hermès Birkin bag and allowing it to take on a life of its own atop long, slender legs.

Visitors to the exhibition will note that there is hardly a subject or medium that Wurm has shied away from. “At some point I came to realise that everything surrounding me can be material for an artistic work, absolutely everything,” Wurm said in a press statement. “To begin with, because I had no money and worked relatively quickly, I used scraps of wood and cans. Then I used old clothing, which did not cost anything, before ultimately realizing that I could actually use anything around me. That was the decisive step, as then anything was possible.”

The mega survey includes more than 100 works, pairing 55 sculptures indoors and 19 outside with paintings, drawings and photographs that give wider context to Wurm’s ideas.

Check out some of the works for the exhibition, on view through April 28, 2024, below.

Erwin Wurm, Truck II (2011). Photo: Rafal Sosin, © Studio Erwin Wurm.

Erwin Wurm, Big Kastenmann (2012). Photo: © Studio Erwin Wurm.

Erwin Wurm, Crash Long (2022). Photo: Ulrich-Ghezzi, © Studio Erwin Wurm.

Erwin Wurm, The Idiot II (2003). Photo: © Studio Erwin Wurm.

Erwin Wurm, Big Step (2022). Photo: © Studio Wurm.

Erwin Wurm, Eames (2021). Photo: Markus Gradwohl, © Studio Erwin Wurm.

Erwin Wurm, Modesty (2021). Photo: © Ulrich Ghezzi, courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

 

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