Erwin Wurm: Trap of the Truth at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
© Studio Erwin Wurm, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Erwin Wurm: Trap of the Truth at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield 10 June 2023 — 28 April 2024 Entrance is free — Visit now

Yorkshire Sculpture Park presents the first major museum exhibition in the UK from internationally renowned artist Erwin Wurm: Trap of the Truth.

The display takes place in the Underground Gallery as well as outside, gathering a very large body of Wurm’s work, including 55 sculptures indoors, 19 sculptures in the landscape, paintings, photographs, videos and drawings from the past 30 years.

Trap of the Truth has a philosophical underpinning, inspired by the 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes, who set out to interrogate the subjectivity of truth. This questioning of reality is immortalised in the phrase “I think, therefore I am”. Wurm’s oeuvre is based on pondering and challenging the concept of sculpture and how it can be used to understand, and perhaps play with, everyday life. Indeed, even when dealing with serious subject matter, playfulness is the most recognisable aspect of Wurm’s work, from giant gherkins to handbags with legs.

Erwin Wurm, Der Gurk (2016) Blickachsen 11 Katalogretuschen © Archiv Stiftung Blickachsen GmbH. Germany
Erwin Wurm, Der Gurk (2016) Blickachsen 11 Katalogretuschen © Archiv Stiftung Blickachsen GmbH. Germany

Erwin Wurm, born and currently living in Austria, is one of the country’s best known artists, having represented Austria at the 2017 Venice Biennale. He is perhaps most famous for his One-Minute Sculptures, a series began in the 1990s that combines performance and sculpture to, often humorous and surreal effect. The popular works encourage viewers to literally become the sculpture for a moment, using props like chairs and fruit in unusual positions to create new ‘compositions’ with their bodies. This method entirely removes the barrier between artist and viewer and becomes a performative as well as embodied experience.

These, by their definition, short-term works break the mould of sculpture often being associated with permanence and solidity, yet even his inanimate works are rooted in bodily awareness and a fascination with the everyday. Icons are large-scale, marble sculptures of bread, sausages and coffee beans, exhibited on plinths, elevating the subjects’ importance to the level of classical statues.

Erwin Wurm, Big Kastenmann, 2012. © Studio Erwin Wurm
Erwin Wurm, Big Kastenmann, 2012. © Studio Erwin Wurm

Wurm’s outdoor works are often even more outlandish in their form, with large-scale upside down houses perching on the roofs of galleries, melting boats, bronze sausages and hot water bottles.

For Trap of the Truth, Wurm has also created sculptures especially for YSP, including a new piece from the Skins and Avatar series which visitors can find outside against the lush green views of the park.

Erwin Wurm: Trap of the Truth is accompanied by an exciting programme of events.

Erwin Wurm: Trap of the Truth at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield 10 June 2023 — 28 April 2024 Entrance is free Visit now

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