The Austrian sculptor Erwin Wurm has brought his surreal sense of humor to the Bass Museum of Art, filling up gallery spaces and walls with a playful exhibition that explores the relationships between the human body and the clothing and architecture that surround it.
The exhibition takes its title from a comic book that the artist used to read as a child. He would hide this comic book in different spots within his bedroom so that his parents wouldn't find it. That childhood relationship to architectural space was one where comfort and amusement co-existed with a hint of danger – an apt summary of the themes that run throughout this funhouse of a show.
I'll keep my descriptions to a minimum because I don't want to spoil the joy of discovery which makes visiting this exhibition such a pleasure. Suffice it to say that many of the works on view unite squishy organic forms – or soft wool sweaters standing in for the human body – with the hard edges of buildings or building materials. In so doing, Wurm invites us to re-think our relationship to architectural space and to our own bodies. The most interesting pieces play with scale and subject in ways that should bring a smile to your face.
Setting the tone are two wry site-specific installations which greet you as you walk up the ramps to the second floor (where the bulk of the exhibition takes place). Each covers an entire wall. They are clever and laugh-out-loud funny.
In other notable works, various articles of clothing get wrapped around bulbous globs or stretched almost beyond recognition. Old furniture gets turned on its side and repurposed. Small buildings grow humanish features or melt like butter. And a series of gigantic, fleshy "bobs" are as intimate as they are imposing.
Imaages: Erwin Wurm, Architecture, 2011, fabric and wood, 33 1/2 x 23 5/8 x 43 11/16 inches, Courtesy of the artist; Xavier Hufkens, Brussels; Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg and Paris; and Lehmann Maupin, New York; Erwin Wurm, Home – gulp, 2011, acrylic and paint, 35 7/16 x 30 5/16 x 23 5/8 inches, Courtesy of the artist; Xavier Hufkens, Brussels; Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg and Paris; and Lehmann Maupin, New York.