The MEP invites you to discover the work of the internationally acclaimed Austrian artist Erwin Wurm in a totally new light in this first-ever retrospective of his photographic work.

  • © Erwin Wurm, Outdoor Sculpture

  • © Erwin Wurm, Outdoor Sculpture

  • Erwin Wurm, Outdoor sculpture (Appenzell), instruction drawing, 1998
    © Erwin Wurm - Création graphique : Joanna Starck

The exhibition

Erwin Wurm is celebrated for a conceptual body of work incorporating sculpture, performance, video, drawing and photography in which he combines a sense of playfulness and a profound sense of the absurd. His work often questions our relationship to the body with irony and cynicism, frequently placing the viewer in a paradoxical relationship with objects. Although he is principally known as a sculptor, the medium of photography has always played a fundamental role in his work, both as a way of documenting and preserving ephemeral works and performances but also as a means in its own right.

Gathering together some 200 prints produced since the 1980s and filling the museum’s two main floors, this extensive exhibition – the first to be seen in Paris in nearly twenty years – will present a number of prints, studies and original contact sheets from the artist’s personal archive, many of them never before seen by the public. Works on display will also include completely new works made by the artist expressly for the exhibition based on images from his personal archives. Together they reveal the essential role of the photographic medium in his work, delving into his process and exploring the way he conceives photography as a “sculptural” form of expression; he refers to these artworks as “photographic sculptures.”

The artist

Erwin Wurm was born in 1954. He lives and works in Vienna and Limberg, Austria.

By integrating photography, performance and video into his creative process, Wurm challenges the formal qualities of the medium of sculpture while blurring the boundaries between performance and daily life, between spectator and participant. He also considers the physical act of gaining and losing weight a sculptural gesture, and often creates the illusion of growth or shrinkage in his work, exploring the idea of the human body as sculpture or anthropomorphizing everyday objects in unsettling ways, from transforming pickles or sausages into bronze sculptures to inflating the volume and shape of a car or house. Irony and paradox, which playan important role in his work, also incorporate an underlying critique of consumer society and contemporary culture.

Erwin Wurm’s work is in numerous international public and private collections, including the Albertina, Vienna, Austria; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, the Netherlands; Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, Germany; Middelheimmuseum, Antwerp, Belgium; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA; Städel Museum, Frankfurt, Germany; Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom.

His work has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions around the world. In 2017, the artist represented Austria in the 57th Venice Biennale, marking the twentieth anniversary of his famous One Minute Sculptures.

Partners & patrons

This exhibition has been organized thanks to

Media partners