Born 1948 in Pasadena, California, B. Wurtz is best known for his playful and compelling sculptures constructed from discarded materials like produce packaging, construction lumber, and plastic bags. He received a BA from the University of California at Berkeley in 1970, and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, in 1980. The sculptor and painter currently lives and works in New York, New York.
B. Wurtz’s repurposing of everyday flotsam into joyous, humorous, and beautiful objects undermine grand artistic gesture while elevating the commonplace. The artist’s transformative amalgams of found materials have tended to coalesce around the subjects of “sleeping, eating, and keeping warm”—the foundational human needs named in his 1973 drawing Three Important Things. While his sculptures are often modest in scale, in 2018, the artist created his now iconic Kitchen Trees for the New York City Public Art Fund, transforming City Hall Park with towering columns of colorful colanders exploding with plastic fruit.
Wurtz has been the subject of over 52 solo exhibitions at prestigious venues including: Feature Inc. (1987, 1991, 1992, 2001, 2003, 2006, New York); Gallery 400 (2000, Chicago); White Flag Projects (2012, St. Louis); Kunstverein (2015, Freiburg, Germany); and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, (2015, Ridgefield, Connecticut). In 2015, the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, United Kingdom mounted a retrospective exhibition of the artist’s work that traveled to La Casa Encendida, Madrid through 2016. In 2018, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles mounted a major solo exhibition of his work, This Has No Name.
His work has also been included in over 174 group exhibitions including: Pandora’s Box: Joseph Cornell Unlocks the MCA Collection (2011, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago); Building Blocks: Contemporary Works from the Collection (2011, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence); and Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s (2018, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.)
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