The Austrian-born Erwin Wurm is a leading figure in contemporary art. His exaggerations of everyday objects such as cars, fashion and furniture capture our attention with a humour and wit that only at second glance reveals the profound emotional and cultural significance of these things. The manipulation of images so omnipresent in the electronic media suddenly takes form in real space with Wurm’s ambiguous objects. The delight in the persiflage quickly shifts to an awareness of the compulsive inevitability with which we define ourselves and others through symbolically laden possessions.
For this special presentation at the Vitra Design Museum, Erwin Wurm and the curator of the Pop Art Design exhibition identified a selection of exemplary works which show house and home as representatives of personal history, condition and identification. At the same time, these question the autonomy of the building as an artefact. Similarities with the surrounding structures by Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid or Herzog & de Meuron prove to be more than mere coincidence, emphasising the importance which architecture holds today in the age of icons as art for everyday life.
With Drowsy, an example from Wurm’s latest series of works in which models of houses were deformed by way of physical force, the artist links surrealist methods with Actionism and happenings. Wallpaper designed especially for this exhibition shows house and home as a psychogram and depicts Wurm’s current position on this theme in a larger context. The dialogue between museum and applied art explored by the Pop Art Design exhibitionis thus traced up to the present with these works. Typical Pop themes such as the loss of hierarchies, the distortion of dimensions and the interpenetration of art and everyday life reappear here as symptoms of a state of being that has now become the norm with profound contemporary relevance. The tone struck by Erwin Wurm resonates with an incisive freshness reminiscent of Claes Oldenburg’s monumentalised consumer goods in their day at the peak of Pop Art.