For his second show at Lehmann Maupin, New York, Austrian artist Erwin Wurm continues his investigation of volume and abstraction of the human form with three new bodies of work. According to the press release, ‘known for his synthesis of wit and formalism, reinventing the vocabulary of sculpture and turning it on its head, Wurm works with the corporal silhouette in the same manner as a traditional sculptor, yet severely deconstructs and distorts each element of human likeness, mutating the body in unexpected and unconventional variations to further its ambiguity. as an exploration of psychological conditions, the upcoming exhibition ‘Synthesa’ — and the series of sculptures whose namesake the show takes — represents the amalgamation of opposing forces, both physical and emotional, traditional and unpredictable’. To be perfectly honest I struggle to see what Lehman Maupin is saying in the actual images. I would say that there are three different kinds of objects here: firstly, readymades (for example, the skull with a real banana in its mouth), secondly, the sausage assemblages and finally, the human scale collage-like figures.
For Wurm’s series of ‘abstract sculptures’, he has cast a collection of bronze statues that are the visualization of contorted sausage-like forms. as a challenge to our accepted impressions of the world around us and our perceptions of everyday reality, the frankfurter forms evoke anthropomorphic physical qualities and movement, with an anatomy of long ‘limbs’ and ‘bodies’ that visually mimic the recognizable encased meat shape.
As art this is irrelevant but the fact that I immediately saw the Frankfurter sculptures as highly commercial speaks very loudly about what does it take for a work of art to be desirable in the contemporary art market. Just a thought.