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Erwin Wurm’s Deformed Humanoid Sculptures

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Erwin Wurm’s biomorphic sculptures, currently on view at Lehmann Maupin gallery in New York, convey a certain human despondency despite their abstracted and fragmented forms. Known for his one-minute public sculptures, Wurm has since transitioned to larger, more involved works, this time crafting the pieces himself instead of in a studio with multiple disciples.

Wurm felt disconnected from the factory-line works of his past, and with his new series “Synthesa” he has returned to a more personable aesthetic. The title “Synthesa” represents a synthesis of opposing forces, material and emotional, classic and unexpected. The frail, deconstructed figures were first scanned from the studio and printed out in polyurethane, then cast in acrylic for further support.

ERWIN WURM
White Bucket (Synthesa)
2013
Acrylic, paint, plastic bucket
90.55 x 31.5 x 23.62 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

My favorite piece, a skeleton impossibly bent over with its head crushing a can against the wall, evokes a sense of comedic resignation. Said Wurm, “If you approach things with a sense of humor, people immediately assume you’re not to be taken seriously. But I think truths about society and human existence can be approached in different ways. You don’t always have to be deadly serious. Sarcasm and humor can help you see things in a lighter vein.”

In his new series, anthropomorphic sculptures are broken up by pale buckets, with heads and body parts missing. Balloon animal sculptures dance together, looking almost like organs. The psychological conditions they convey are manifested corporeally, as though existential angst is a bodily affliction that deforms your physical being.

ERWIN WURM
Step (Abstract Sculptures)
2013
Bronze, paint, wood
29.92 x 20.47 x 17.72 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

“Synthesa” will be on view at Lehmann Maupin on 26th St. through April 19. 

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THE SPRING ARTIST ISSUE
2023

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