Erwin Wurm

Fat Car, 2000/2001

Photo: UMJ

With this sculpture Wurm addresses the classical concept of a sculpture’s volume by subjecting an automobile to an extension process through the addition of material; the everyday object hence loses its natural proportions and shape. As a result of the polyester add-on, the car not only turns into a fat car, but is also, in a surrealist tradition, transformed from a metallic item into an optically soft object. The car seems to melt away as in Dali’s paintings, and not only becomes immobile as a result of its enormous volume and obesity, but also through its softness. In appearance it resembles a bizarre monster. 


The car as a symbol for mobility plays a favoured role in the art of the 20th century, stretching from Marinetti’s Manifesto of 1909 (“A racing car is more beautiful than the Nike of Samothrace”) to the ‘car compressions’ by Cesar, Arman, and Vostell. Mainly in the Nouveau Realisme, Fluxus and Happening movements, immobility was highlighted by works such as the car cast in concrete by Wolf Vostell or Gottfried Bechtold’s “Concrete Porsche”. Thus they continue a tradition within object art of turning objects into art.

Erwin Wurm’s sculptural work is to be placed within these art movements from Duchamp to action art. In addition to his playful treatment of the function of use of objects, he also focuses on the material and material manipulation of sculpture. Duchamp was the first to fathom the material state of sculpture, when in his 1919 work “Air de Paris”, he exhibited “immaterial air”.

Subsequently since the 1960s, numerous artists such as Yves Klein, Carl André and Richard Serra have made the material status of sculpture the object of their artistic examination. With his “Fat Car”, Erwin Wurm addresses the classic concept of the volume of a sculpture. Through putting additional layers of material onto a vehicle, he extends it to the extent that the object of use loses its natural proportions and form. With the polyester added, the car does not only become a “fat car” but also an object expanded by volume, as was also shown in Wurm’s up-to-date practice of jumper sculpture on people.

The car, however, is also transformed from a metal object into a visually soft object in a more surrealist tradition. The car seems to melt like in Dalì’s work; it does not become immobile due to its “obesity” and enormous volume, but also due to its softness. It appears to be a grotesque monster.   

Author: Christa Steinle  
Plan & Overview: Position 36
Owner: [Stiftungsbesitz]
Biography:Erwin Wurm

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