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The Kunstmuseum Luzern exhibits a selection of about 600 drawings by Erwin Wurm
Installation view of Erwin Wurm. Peace & Plenty. Photo: Marc Latzel.

LUCERNE.- The Austrian Erwin Wurm (*1954) is one of the world stars of contemporary art and his name is mentioned regularly among those of the most important creative artists. In 2015 he showed instructions for One Minute Sculptures in a group exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Luzern. It was then that the idea for a joint project was born: an exhibition purely of drawings accompanied by an extensive publication.

The Kunstmuseum Luzern is now showing a selection of about 600 drawings which Erwin Wurm has done over the past years. They are highly diverse both thematically and technically: pencil, crayon, ball point pen, watercolours, collage, sometimes fine lines, sometimes wide, ample brushstrokes or else felt pen on glossy magazines. Be it at home or when travelling, Erwin Wurm draws on a daily basis and so captures whatever his mind wanders to. He works with the paper that is locally available, in different qualities and sizes. The exhibition title Peace & Plenty refers both to the hotel of the same name in George Town (Great Exumas/ Bahamas) where he did a huge number of the drawings, and to the sheer number of the works.

The drawings are reflections, commentaries on the world and stores for idea and they embrace the whole cosmos of Erwin Wurm’s work. Thematically they resemble a diary, as people with whom Erwin Wurm is in contact crop up in them – artist-friends, his family, and also self-portraits. Sketches of the Austrian pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale highlight the genesis of the works shown there. Many of the drawings are dedicated to One Minute Sculptures: a man balancing a tube of hand cream on his nose, another trying to stand on the armrest of a chair, a third persevering so long that he is just a skeleton leaning against the wall (One Minute for Ever). Needless to say, deformations (bloating and blending) are also a theme and repeatedly cigarettes (Asthma) and weapons (Bullets).

Erwin Wurm is an astute and unsentimental observer of reality with a sense for weak points and everyday absurdities. The drawings testify both to his humour and to the audacity with which the artist treats the world and himself. Laughter often sticks in one’s throat, given that Erwin Wurm’s worldview is in the tradition of a mordent Austrian humour. Situation comedy and precarious moments, dreams and longings reflect Erwin Wurm’s interest in man, with all his inadequacies. The source of the works is life itself, even those commonplace things and situations that are part of our everyday life. This close link to the everyday and the candour of the pictorial inventiveness mean that the works address us directly. They not only reflect contemporary everyday life ironically and critically, but also art history. Erwin Wurm is continually broadening the concept of sculpture in this works.

Curated by Eveline Suter

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