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Erwin Wurm : Architectures décalées

Austrian artist Erwin Wurm has been honored at Marseille (13) in a major retrospective organized by the city's contemporary art museum and presented in three locations: at the Cantini Museum, in the Chapel of Center of the Old Charity and the Museum of Fine Arts. On the occasion of this exhibition event, return on his personal approach to architecture.

Erwin Wurm (1954) is a major figure in the contemporary art scene. He explores various artistic forms, from performance to sculpture to video and architecture. After studying art history, languages, literature and applied art, Erwin Wurm begins to develop a singular sculptural language influenced by conceptual art and minimal art. Indeed, at the end of the 1990 years, he created his first One Minute Sculptures, ephemeral works amazing midway between sculpture and performance, in which the viewer is invited to become a part of everyday objects by becoming a work. These productions mark the starting point of a prosperous artistic career.

In Marseille, from 17 May to 15 September 2019, the exhibition is spread over three sites and thus exposes brilliantly the plurality of the work of this unclassifiable artist. The Cantini Museum shows the diversity of these visual approaches and numerous videos such as 59 Positions (1992) and Tell (2007-2008), while the Museum of Fine Arts offers visitors the opportunity to experience the aesthetic One Minute Sculptures. Finally, the chapel of the Center de la Vieille Charité is dedicated to its famous Narrow House, an elongated uninhabitable house with very narrow width (1,30 meters) and excessive height (7 meters). The installation is doubly surprising. On the one hand, the choice of place allows for dialogue between heritage and contemporary art, bringing the stylistic unity of the Old Charity (1640) built in pink and white stone with the contemporary absurd architecture of Erwin Wurm. On the other hand, it upsets conventional architectural forms. By thus distorting the out-of-date parental home of his childhood, he locks the viewer into a terrifying but meaningful confines. He confuses him and leads him to question himself about the world and the urban landscapes that surround him.

Other works by the creator testify to his pluralistic approach to architecture. It pastiche for example the major achievements of the last century. Indeed, in his dripping architectural models, Erwin Wurm diverts a certain heritage from the history of architecture by reproducing world famous buildings such as Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum and Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building, both At New York. The proportions are distorted, the facades are liquefied, structures collapse. Erwin Wurm pays tribute to the architectural heritage through derision and misappropriation in order to take a critical look at both art and contemporary society. Through the use of humor and the convocation of daily life, it is thus addressed to all and offers a reflexive approach to the aesthetic experience.

Photographs: Narrow House Photo Mischa Nawrata courtesy West Collection / Van der Rohe Mies Melting Photo Vincent Everarts

To learn more, visit the Erwin Wurm site

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