Metro Pictures is pleased to present a special summer exhibition: the first New York survey of the work of B. Wurtz. Spanning some 40 years, the show is a collaboration between B. Wurtz; White Columns director Mathew Higgs, the exhibition’s curator; Metro Pictures; and Feature Inc., the artist’s longtime gallery.
Born in Pasadena, California, in 1948, Wurtz graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1970. That same year, he made Handbag, which is the earliest work in this exhibition. A humble wall-hung sculpture that resembles its title, Handbag is made from a few sheets of plastic and a thin metal wire. This early piece is a precursor to later constructions that continuously and optimistically flouted the aesthetic orthodoxies of his peers.
In 1973, the artist penned Three Important Things, a drawing that served as a foundational statement for his work. Objects in Wurtz’s works have steadfastly derived from its three listed concerns (“sleeping, eating, keeping warm”), resulting in an ever-inventive profusion of sculptural objects and wall hangings that have channeled the possibilities of lowly, everyday objects. Wurtz has fulfilled the potential of food wrappers, plastic bags, shoelaces, locks, yogurt caps, and mop handles, among other common products.
Declared “a master of the unassuming, if not completely disguised, artwork” by critic Roberta Smith, Wurtz has lived and worked in New York since the mid-1980s. He is a graduate of the California Institute of Arts and UC Berkeley. In 2000, the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Gallery 400 presented a retrospective of his work titled 70 + 30 = 2000. His work has been in exhibitions at MoMA P.S.1, MCA Chicago, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, RISD Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery, and Castillo/Corrales, Paris. A digital catalogue is available on Metro Pictures’ website.