The Sculptor Transforming Household Objects Into Extraordinary Works of Art

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Untitled (Silver Lampshade), 1987© B. Wurtz, Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

From cheese graters to lampshades, artist B. Wurtz implores us to find beauty in the everyday

When it comes to B. Wurtz, it is clear that less is more. The American sculptor’s name and work are alike in modesty and simplicity, two qualities which paradoxically make both all the more impactful. Wurtz is recognised for his ability to find beauty in the banal, as seen in his latest exhibition titled Domestic Space, recently unveiled at New York’s Metro Pictures. This series of collagic sculptures and photographs includes works dating back 30 years ago, positioned alongside fresh pieces as well as some old footage of the post-conceptual artist, made during his studies at CalArts.

Through meticulous assemblage and graceful composition, Wurtz repurposes ubiquitous household objects and transforms their value by casting a light on their previously obscured and overlooked aesthetic potential. By stripping them of their traditional roles and dematerialising these items, he enriches their purpose and gives them meaning outside the home. Human essentials that are mundane to most become fascinating to Wurtz; things that we would throw away he preserves, and so these objects continue to serve us, but in new and unexpected ways.

Large black and white photographs hang on the wall, giving these typically unimposing items an inexplicably imposing presence. In their monochrome imitations, the ordinary colander and cheese grater are imbued with an air of majesty, while a zoomed-in rendering of the beige lampshade almost resembles a spaceship or rocket about to take flight. It’s as though the artist is responding to the objects’ need to feel more important – a plea that only he can hear.

At the heart of Wurtz's conceptions lies a discernible appreciation and admiration for these mundane objects, which shines through so truly that it rubs off on the viewer, inviting them to spend more time with, and therefore give more attention to what most would view as junk. The work boasts inventiveness and ingenuity, and perhaps through it B. Wurtz is highlighting the materiality of life – as well as playfully hinting at our wasteful nature. At the very least, Wurtz makes us think twice about the significance of the prosaic items around us every day, showing us that objects which sat in the background of yesterday’s homes could well be found standing in the foreground of today’s galleries.

B. Wurtz, Domestic Space runs until October 20, 2018 at Metro Pictures Gallery, New York.