Skip to content

Events

Art & Art History

70 + 30 = 2000

Monday, October 02, 2000–Saturday, October 28, 2000

View times

70 + 30 = 2000 is an exhibition of works created by the artist B. Wurtz over a thirty-year period, as well as a new installation completed for Gallery 400. From his refreshingly vigorous body of work, Gallery 400 is exhibiting selected works from numerous series. Among the series shown, for example, is the Button Paintings Series, which includes unprimed canvases with circles and straight lines drawn with dry economy and strategically positioned buttons sewn onto the fabric. Conjuring the early Modernist pioneers who found intimations of spirituality in the archetypal elements of design, Wurtz transforms that high-minded tradition into a hobby-like craft, democratically blurring the line between the exalted and the ordinary. Also on exhibit are photographs illustrating the aggrandizement that underlies many photographic images. Wurtz took close-up shots of industrial debris and then exhibited the debris on a low pedestal below the photograph. When photographed, the objects look monumental, filling the frame or soaring against a clear sky, although close inspection of the images reveal the subjects to be junk rather than grand industrial architecture.

B. Wurtz ’s mixed-media works defy categorization, but humor and a certain degree of whimsy are constant mainstays. Wurtz ’s ingenious works are illustrative of the thought processes that lie at the core of art making. He removes commonplace objects, like shoestrings and plastic bags, from their ordinary settings and places them in an art context where they assume properties and characteristics that they had not previously possessed. At the heart of Wurtz ’s work is a delight in the act of discovery, which is intrinsic to this process. His technique manages to extend possibilities inherent in our perception of these objectives while emphasizing the type of thinking involved in making art. One of Wurtz ’s strategies is to produce aesthetically pleasing work that generates a thoughtful critique rather than an explicit or political affront.

Critics described his pieces as “magical” and “unpretentious,” but Wurtz offered another interpretation: “It ’s really about an interest in an ordinary object from daily life, especially one related to food, clothing, or shelter. Basic things, the kinds of things I use in my art, were invented by humans and I find that fascinating. The act of seeing the extraordinary in an ordinary object makes me feel connected to the universe in general and life in particular. I like the idea of pointing out how simple it can be to ‘see ’ this.” Wurtz managed to place his works in a liminal space where the viewer is asked to consider the aesthetic potential of the found objects on display, therefore building upon and updating the practices of Marcel Duchamp.

Bill Wurtz was born and educated in California and currently lives and works in New York City. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, at such places as the Institute for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, ANP in Belgium, W139 in Amsterdam, The Center for Contemporary Arts in Cincinnati, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Centre Regional d ’Art Contemporain in France. In 1992 Wurtz co-created a publication with Raymond Pettibon entitled Farm 5 (Feature, Inc.).

The exhibition is accompanied by the publication of a 24-page color catalogue.

Related:

PRINT COLLATERAL

Postcard: B. Wurtz: 70 + 30 = 2000

70 + 30 = 2000

B. Wurtz
Gallery 400, College of Architecture and the Arts,
University of Illinois at Chicago, 2000
24 pp., 5.5 x 8.5 in., with color and
black and white reproductions

This catalogue can be purchased for $3.00 plus shipping by calling Gallery 400 at 312 996 6114.

B. Wurtz
70 + 30 = 2000

Gallery 400
Chicago, IL
October 2–28, 2000

Opening Reception: Wednesday, October 4, 2000, 4-7 pm

B. Wurtz ’s mixed-media works defy categorization yet humor and a certain degree of whimsy are mainstays. Wurtz ’s ingenious works are illustrative of the thought processes that lie at the core of art making. He takes commonplace objects, like shoestrings and plastic bags, out of ordinary settings and places them in an art context where they assume properties and characteristics they had not previously possessed. At the heart of Wurtz ’s work is a delight in discovery inherent in this process. His practice manages to extend possibilities inherent in our perception of these objectives while emphasizing the type of thinking involved in making art. One of Wurtz ’s strategies is to produce aesthetically pleasing work that generates a thoughtful critique rather than an explicit or political affront.

Critics often describe his pieces as “magical” and “unpretentious” but Wurtz offers another interpretation: “It ’s really about an interest in an ordinary object from daily life, especially one related to food, clothing, or shelter. Basic things, the kinds of things I use in my art, were invented by humans and I find that fascinating. The act of seeing the extraordinary in an ordinary object makes me feel connected to the universe in general and life in particular. I like the idea of pointing out how simple it can be to ‘see ’ this.” Wurtz manages to place his works in a liminal space where the viewer is asked to consider the aesthetic potential of the found objects on display extending and updating Duchamp ’s actions.

On view are works Wurtz has created over the past thirty years, as well as a new installation completed for Gallery 400. From his refreshingly vigorous body of work, Gallery 400 exhibits selected works from numerous series. Among the series, the Button Paintings Series, for example, includes unprimed canvases with circles and straight lines drawn with dry economy and strategically positioned buttons sewn onto the fabric. Looking at these compositions, one thinks of the early Modernist pioneers who found intimations of spirituality in the archetypal elements of design. Wurtz turns that high-minded tradition into a hobby-like craft, democratically blurring the line between the exalted and the ordinary. Also on exhibit are photographs illustrating the aggrandizement that underlies many photographic images. Wurtz takes a close-up shot of industrial debris and then exhibits the debris on a low pedestal below the photograph. When photographed, the objects look monumental, filling the frame or soaring against a clear sky, although close inspection of the images reveals the subjects to be junk rather than grand industrial architecture.

Wurtz was born and educated in California and currently lives and works in New York City. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including the Institute for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, ANP in Belgium, W139 in Amsterdam, The Center for Contemporary Arts in Cincinnati, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Centre Regional d ’Art Contemporain in France. In 1992 Wurtz co-created a publication with Raymond Pettibon entitled Farm 5 (Feature, Inc.).

EXHIBITION SUPPORT

70 + 30 = 2000 is supported by the College of Architecture and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago, and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

EXHIBITION CHECKLIST

B. Wurtz

The Aftereffects of my Lunch, 1972
Mixed media (with plastic bags, twist ties, and napkin), 1 1/4 x 6 1/4 diameter

Big Picture (not important in the big picture), 1983
Acrylic on canvas, 37 1/2 x 32 in.

Brown Shoelaces, 1996
Mixed media (with shoelaces), 17 1/2 x 12 x 5 3/4 in.

Bunch #2, 1995

Mixed media (with plastic bags), approximately 99 x 48 in. diameter

Collection #5, 1999
Mixed media (with buttons and 35 millimeter slide film), images of fashion models at runway shows, 89 in. high

Construction debris, coat hanger and broccoli net, 1993
Mixed media, 16 x 15 3/4 x 5 in.

Don’t look at art. Look at the world., 1990
Mixed media, 89 x 88 x 5 in.

Houses (from series), 1988
Nails and wood, dimensions variable

Know Thyself (from series), 1992
Mixed media, 42 x 20 x 9 in.

Look at reality., 1990–91
Mixed media, 42 x 20 x 9 in.

Look at yourself., 1990
Mixed media, 35 x 14 x 5 1/4 in.

Path, 1993
Mixed media (with tin can, socks, and gloves), 5 1/2 x 19 x 3 1/2 in.

Red Bowl and Red Glass, 1988
Acrylic on wood, 15 x 16 x 3/4 in.

Relics, 1977
Collage on paper (with sections of paper grocery bags), texts read “personally inspected by (name),” 24 x 30 in.

Relics, 1974
Mixed media, made from the artist’s childhood set of blocks, installation dimensions variable

The Secret of the Pyramids, 1987
Mixed media (with cardboard packing materials), installation size varies

Secret Words, 1973
Mixed media, 2 x 4 x 3 in.

Security, 1992
Mixed media (with tin can and lock), 27 x 12 x 12 in.

Slide Cube (from series), 1979
35 millimeter slides, 2 x 2 x 2 in.

Survival, 1987
Mixed media (with tin can), 10 x 10 1/4 x 10 1/4 in.

Three Blue Mops, 1986
Mixed media, 50 x 38 x 3 in.

Three Important Things, 1973
Ink on paper, 29 1/2 x 23 3/4 in.

Tower, 1989
Mixed media, 50 x 30 x 16 3/4 in.

Umbrella Handle, 1996
Mixed media (with plastic bag), 74 x 36 x 1 in.

Unpleasant Private Thoughts, 1973
Mixed media, 2 x 4 x 3 in.

Untitled, 2000
Buttons, thread, and acrylic on canvas, 48 1/2 x 46 1/2 in.

Untitled, 1999
Buttons, thread, and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 62 in.

Untitled, 1999
Buttons, thread, and acrylic on canvas, 24 x 26 in.

Untitled, 1999
Buttons, thread, acrylic, and graphite on canvas, 63 x 73 in.

Untitled, 1999
Buttons, thread, and acrylic on canvas, 77 x 63 in.

Untitled, 1998
Mixed media (with shoelaces and plastic lid), 27 x 18 x 2 in.

Untitled, 1997
Buttons, thread, and acrylic on canvas, 35 x 35 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media, 36 x 18 x 1 1/2 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media (with plastic bag), 23 1/2 x 38 1/2 x 3 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media (with plastic bag), 45 x 23 x 1 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media (with plastic bag), 53 1/2 x 20 1/2 x 1 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media (with plastic bag), 24 x 13 x 4 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media (with plastic bags), 128 x 71 x 71 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media (with plastic bags), 126 x 103 x 103 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media (with plastic bags), plastic shapes attached to thread (cut from bag on sculpture), 53 x 31 x 12 1/2 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media (with shoelace), 11 1/4 x 13 1/4 x 2 1/2 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media (with sock and shoelace), 33 x 19 x 3 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media (with sock and shoelace), 40 x 18 1/2 x 4 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media (with shoelace), 27 x 13 x 1 3/4 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media (with shoelaces), 29 x 25 1/2 x 1 3/4 in.

Untitled, 1997
Mixed media (with shoelace), 21 x 10 1/2 x 2 in.

Untitled, 1996
Mixed media (with sock and carpet sample), 39 x 13 1/2 x 2 in.

Untitled, 1993
Mixed media (with plastic bags), 33 x 17 x 1 1/2 in.

Untitled, 1989
Mixed media (with tin can), 12 x 20 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.

Untitled, 1989
Mixed media (with tin cans), 19 x 11 3/4 in.

Untitled, 1989
Mixed media (with tin cans), 26 x 11 1/2 x 25 1/2 in.

Untitled, 1988
Mixed media (with tin cans), 22 1/2 x 14 x 11 in.

Untitled, 1984
Mixed media, sculpture, 18 1/2 x 11 x 13 in.
Framed photograph (of sculpture), 37 x 31 in.

Untitled, 1970
Mixed media (with plastic bags, rope, lock, and key), 4 x 5 x 8 in.

Untitled (black funnel), 1989
Mixed media, framed photograph, and object; object: 9 1/2 x 9 1/4 x 8 1/4 in., photograph: 31 x 41 in.

Untitled (Bogen Challenger), 1987
Mixed media, sculpture, and two framed photographs; sculpture: 29 x 17 x 7 1/2 in., photographs: 6 1/2 x 41 in. each

Untitled (button and pocket piece), 1989
Mixed media (with buttons), 9 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 7 1/4 in.

Untitled (container), 1988
Mixed media, sculpture, and framed photographs of sculpture, 82 1/2 x 41 in.

Untitled (four views), 1988
Mixed media (with piece of concrete block), sculpture, and four framed photographs of sculpture; sculpture: 9 x 7 1/2 x 7 1/2 in., photographs: 61 x 41 in. each

Untitled (from doodle series), 1984
Acrylic on canvas

Untitled (from doodle series), 1984
Acrylic on canvas

Untitled (from food wrappers series), 1976
Mixed media, various sizes

Untitled (from series), 1992
Ink and acrylic on paper, 11 x 14 in.

Untitled (from series), 1986
Mixed media, 5 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 3 1/2 in.

Untitled (from the box series), 1986
Collage and acrylic on paper, 29 x 23 in.

Untitled (life drawing, from series), 1990
Acrylic on paper, 14 1/4 x 11 1/4 in.

Untitled (life drawing, from series), 1990
Acrylic on paper, 11 x 8 1/4 in.

Untitled (life drawing, from series), 1990
Acrylic on paper, 11 1/2 x 9 in.

Untitled (Monday), 1998
Mixed media (with shoelace), 28 x 17 1/4 x 3/4 in.

Untitled (“My cat, without a second thought, would purchase all of my art.”), 1990
Mixed media, 12 x 12 1/2 x 2 in.

Untitled (pan paintings, from series), 1990–91
Acrylic paint and aluminum, various sizes

Untitled (prototype for multiple), 1993
Mixed media, 31 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.

Untitled (red frisbee), 1984,
Mixed media, sculpture, and framed photograph; sculpture: 7 1/2 x 9 x 9 in., photograph: 15 3/4 x 22 1/2 in.

Untitled (series), 1986
Sepia-toned photograph (of Styrofoam packing materials), dimensions variable

Untitled (small wooden tower), 1989
Mixed media (with tin can), 12 x 20 1/2 x 7 1/4 in.

Untitled (stainless steel bowl), 1986
Mixed media, sculpture, and framed photograph of sculpture; sculpture: 9 x 7 1/2 x 7 1/2 in., photograph: 19 3/4 x 24 1/2 in.

Untitled (tower with holes), 1989
Mixed media (with tin can), 21 x 9 1/2 x 7 in.

Untitled (world), 1993
Mixed media (with argyle socks), 120 x 120 x 5 in.

Yellow Bowl, 1988
Mixed media, 13 x 13 1/2 x 4 1/2 in.

B Wurtz (born 1948) is a New York based artist who works with ready-mades and found objects, creating sculptures with everything from plastic bags and buttons, to tin pans and soup cans. He has exhibited at Feature Inc., New York; Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles; Salle de Bains, Rotterdam; Spak, Umeå, Sweden; and Ynglingagatan 1 Moderna Museet, Stockholm; among many others. Wurtz received a BA from University of California at Berkeley and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.

MEDIA COVERAGE

Grabner, Michelle. “B. Wurtz.” frieze, April 2001, p. 96.

Noll, Damien. “Narrowing of wonder.” Chicago Journal, Oct. 19, 2000, Vol.1, No.1, p.10.