Collage and acrylic on paper, thread, string, plastic lid
48 x 30 ¼ in.
New York-based artist B. (Bill) Wurtz has been making delicately poetic sculptures for more than four decades, often incorporating everyday household objects into his work. For Untitled (2010), Wurtz has taken a yogurt lid and a supermarket leaflet and fragmented them on the page, creating a sense of their fragility.
Untitled is currently on view as part of "Everyday Abstract - Abstract Everyday," a group show at New York's James Cohan Gallery curated by Matthew Higgs. The show features work by a range of artists, from post-war to contemporary, linked by what Higgs calls, "the grey area between an essentially non-representational image/object and the use of quotidian materials and processes."—TIFFANY ZABLUDOWICZ
I am not treating the paper as a ground. I am thinking of it in sculptural terms as an object in itself. It relates to the supermarket advertising section, but it is also a regular piece of paper. I think of the two items as belonging together. If anything were going to be described as a ground in this case it would be the wall. The holes cut in the paper disrupt its being relegated to one level that one would call a ground. This work is partly about layers. The sculptural qualities occur in small increments. Yes, the work at first glance appears to be flat, but on closer inspection will reveal itself to be definitely not.
I think of the shadows against the wall, made by the paper and the yogurt cap, as part of the composition. They certainly relate to the sculptural qualities. It is a way of making the wall a part of the piece. The hanging system with the loops at the top is a way to again play up the objectness of the piece. It helps to create more pronounced shadows. I certainly never wanted the paper to be matted in a frame or even placed extremely flat against the wall, as that would have eliminated the possibility of the shadows.
First of all I chose the produce section of the supermarket advertising newspaper. The fruits and vegetables have a timeless quality as opposed to branded products. I then chose to cut out certain images of fruits and vegetables and move them to other parts of the larger paper, which I think is perhaps related to buying produce in the store and taking the items home. The holes left behind and the moved pieces of paper start to make the composition more complex. One hole provided a place to tie the thread that holds the yogurt lid.
Over the years a recurring theme of my work has been "food, clothing and shelter," which are the basic ingredients of daily life. I found those subjects to be an interesting way to somewhat limit the found objects I use. Early on I realized that using found objects in my work could be too overwhelming if I didn't place some kind of limit on the possible items. Following that methodology actually opened up more possibilities for experimenting with more abstract concerns in the works.
I have been using newsprint for quite a while. It is a pretty logical candidate for collage work, plus it fits in well with my daily life theme-in this case with food imagery. I like the ubiquitous nature of those supermarket leaflets and that they are mostly overlooked. They are not objects of high design, but I have always been drawn to them for some reason. I think I find their familiarity to be endearing.
I eat yogurt everyday, and all the lids I use come from containers with yogurt that I ate. I basically ignored the lids for years and certainly wasn't in love with the designs of them. I realized at one point that they could come in handy when I wanted circular shapes to use in formal compositions. It appealed to me the idea of just being very accepting of the way they looked, just taking whatever graphics were printed on them and being nonjudgmental about it.
Sometimes a strong wind will flip over the yogurt lid and hid the label. This an annoyance and definitely not something I want to happen. But then I think, "Is this some kind of lesson for me to try to be less controlling of the world?"
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