Museum Jan Cunen, The Netherlands
29.01.2022 - 28.08.2023
From January 29, 2022, Museum Jan Cunen is proud to present a major solo exhibition by Erwin Wurm (Bruck an der Mur, Austria 1954). For the first time, the artist will show a cross-section of his work, from Narrow Furniture to One Minute Sculptures, in the context of a monumental building. The former residential house Villa Constance, in which the museum is located, is not only the location, but also a discussion partner. Because what actually is a house?
For Erwin Wurm, a house is like a second skin, a layer around our own skin. 'The house offers protection and gives us security, but it is also a status symbol that we flaunt. Just look at the richly decorated hall of the villa. It says something about our identity; maybe - like a car or a dog - we even start to look a little like it. With all the technological advances, one can wonder what that will be like in the future; will we really become one with our possessions? Can a body also be a house?
At its core, his work is about humans, our everyday reality and the absurdity that comes with it. The still-growing series One Minute Sculptures, on which Wurm has been working for more than twenty-five years, is a telling example. These sculptures consist of ordinary objects, such as a sweater, furniture or a pair of tennis balls, provided with instructions. It is then up to the viewer to bring the work to life or complete it. And so you place a chair on your chest by hooking your arms into the handrails, resulting in an uncomfortably craned neck (The Idiot II, 2003). In this way, Wurm plays with the traditional role of the visitor. Just looking is not enough, because, "Then the artwork doesn't count.
Wurm's work is accessible and humorous, but also makes you think. Take, for example, his Narrow Furniture: recognizable, life-size furniture, which Wurm "compresses" into oppressive dimensions. Narrow versions of a bed, a bathtub and a urinal point the viewer to the former functions of the rooms of the Osse villa. At the same time, they refer to the milieu in which the artist grew up: postwar Austria, which in his eyes was strict, old-fashioned and patriarchal. Using his personal experiences as a starting point, Wurm tells a universal story.
Wurm's work is exhibited worldwide. After dozens of exhibitions in the setting of a white cube, a deliberate choice was made this time for the context of a monumental villa. There, the artworks connect past and present. Wurm surprises and confronts, but also opens the door to the former function and inhabitants of the building. Who slept and bathed here and shared joys and sorrows at the dinner table? Museum Jan Cunen and Erwin Wurm thus together tell a story of their own, which cannot be told in any other place.