Erwin Wurm is famous for the One Minute Figures and One Minute Sculptures that he has been making since the late 1980s. In these, he gives instructions to himself, a model or member of the public: the person is asked to perform a certain action, or to interact with an everyday object in a specific way. Falling somewhere between ephemeral sculpture, performance and relational aesthetics, these incongruous (or even absurd) moments have been documented in photographs, drawings and videos. This interrogation of the very definition of sculpture is applied not only to human beings, but also to objects. In his three-dimensional works, in which he variously uses wood, Styrofoam, resin, paint, ceramics and textiles, Wurm often connects deeply emotional and psychological conditions to the human body as an ‘object’. In so doing, he deliberately challenges traditional forms and pushes them towards precarious states of distortion and tension. Humour permeates his oeuvre, which is also underpinned by a fierce critique of consumer society and contemporary culture. Recent projects, such as Melting Houses and Drinking Sculptures, return to the participatory aspect of his earlier pieces and involve the viewer in the making or the activating of the artwork.
Erwin Wurm (b. 1954) lives and works in Vienna and Limberg, Austria. His work has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions.
He is part of many institutional collections such as the Centre Pompidou, France; Guggenheim Museum, NY; Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag; Kunsthaus, Zurich; National Museum of Art, Osaka; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Städel Museum, Frankfurt; Lenbachhaus, Munich; Middelheimmuseum, Antwerp; and Albertina and Belvedere, Vienna. —Xavier Hufkens, Brussels