Over the course of his career, Erwin Wurm has radically expanded conceptions of sculpture, space and the human form.
His sculptures straddle abstraction and representation, presenting familiar objects in a surprising and inventive way that prompts viewers to consider them in a new light. He often explores mundane, everyday decisions as well as existential questions in his works, focusing on the objects that help us cope with daily life and through which we ultimately define ourselves. These include the material objects that surround us – the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the food we eat and the homes we live in.
Wurm achieves a transformation in the opposite direction when objects or forms in his work assume distinctly human attributes. In his Stone Sculptures and Tall Bags, these anthropomorphised objects are perched on legs with characteristics or postures that evoke distinct personalities. He has also explored clothing as a sculptural theme – as a second skin, protective shell, outline, or the filling out of volume – in large-scale installations where architectural features are dressed in knitted pullovers. The artist views the bodily process of gaining or losing weight in sculptural terms as the addition or subtraction of material, and often creates illusions of growth or shrinkage, as in his Fat Cars or Narrow House. Erwin Wurm’s most recent series of Idols comprises marble sculptures in the shapes of sausages, bread rolls and gherkins that are presented in oversized dimensions and address the subject of social shells that serve to shape both our individual and our collective identity.