American artist B. Wurtz is best known for his carefully assembled sculptures and installations made of a wide range of commonplace, discarded materials. Great appreciator of lowly objects, his practice is highly concerned with the ethics of re-use, yet is also highly engaged with art history. He is one of those artists whose practice contributes to our understanding of contemporary sculpture. And when it comes to his ethics of re-use, B. Wurtz and his art can be compared with the one of El Anatsui or Adam Niklewicz. For all those art lovers who enjoy B. Wurtz art, there is great news: Metro Pictures presents B. Wurtz at 83 Pitt Street, New York City.
Born in Pasadena, California, 1948, B. Wurtz lives and works in New York. Wurtz completed his undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley in 1970 and later gravitated to the conceptual art of the California Institute of Arts for his MFA. He moved to New York in the mid-1980s and has been a greatly admired participant of the city’s cultural landscape since that time. Using a constrained palette of materials re-purposed from the activities of everyday life the precarious assemblages of B. Wurtz embody the activity of their own making, often containing instructions for configuring in situ the various elements of the composition. Though self-identified as a sculptor, Wurtz has consistently worked across media. In the exhibition four untitled works from 1987, he combined paintings and found objects. Each includes a readily available object like a sprinkler or bottle cap mounted on idiosyncratic wooden pedestals that rest on the floor. On the wall behind each of these sculptures, Wurtz includes two paintings: one a straight-on representation of the sculpture standing before it and the other a graphic detail of the object from an aerial perspective.
During its 24th Street gallery renovation, Metro Pictures presents a selection of sculptures by B. Wurtz at 83 Pitt Street. “A master of the unassuming,” as declared by Roberta Smith in the New York Times, Wurtz repurposes easily discarded, commonplace objects in his masterful constructions. He balances the ordinariness of his chosen materials with a deceptively reductive presentation of cultural production, at once emphasizing the refinement of industrial design objects and recalling the monumentality of architecture. A sense of humor emerges from the directness of Wurtz’s compositions that belies the work’s underlying complexity. A 1973 drawing inscribed with the words “sleeping, eating and keeping warm” set the parameters for the materials Wurtz has used throughout his career. From shoelaces to aluminum baking pans, each element in Wurtz’s work refers back to three fundamental necessities: food, shelter and clothing. Recycling objects related to these essential needs, Wurtz’s work articulates an elegant statement that relates to present concerns related to ecology and consumption within the micro-context of contemporary art, but also within the larger scope of politics.
Wurtz’s work is currently the subject of a survey exhibition at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary in UK. A comprehensive catalogue is scheduled for release later this year. Be sure not to miss this exhibition, it’s a perfect opportunity to enjoy some great art. METRO PICTURES is a New York City art gallery founded in 1980 by Janelle Reiring, previously of Castelli Gallery, and Helene Winer, previously of Artist's Space. It was located in SoHo until 1995 when it was among the first wave of galleries to move to Chelsea. During its 24th Street gallery renovation, Metro Pictures presents a selection of sculptures by B. Wurtz at 83 Pitt Street. The exhibition opened on February 21 and will be on view until March 20, 2016 at Metro Pictures at 83 Pitt Street, New York.
Featured Images: B. Wurtz Exhibition at Metro Pictures at 83 Pitt Street. All Images courtesy of Metro Pictures.