Will Kurtz’s “Extra F**king Ordinary” sculpture at Mike Weiss Gallery

Abandoning the lofty idealization, Will Kurtz’s sculptures capture the essence of the ordinary individual in a range of informal private gestures and personal activities, with their attendant emotions.

poster for Will Kurtz

Will Kurtz "Extra F***ing Ordinary"

at Mike Weiss Gallery
in the Chelsea 24th area
This event has ended - (2012-01-12 - 2012-02-18)

In Reviews by Mary Hrbacek 2012-02-09 print

Classical sculpture peaked in the Golden Age of Greece (500 B. C.) with the emergence of volumetric form, carefully observed human anatomy, and strong verisimilitude in portraiture. In the contemporary art world, sculpture has ceased to portray mythical heroes and heroines, or conquering warriors. Even Social Realism seems to have faded with the fall of the Soviet Union. But the human figure as an evocative subject endures. Today, Will Kurtz has abandoned the lofty idealization that typifies Auguste Rodin; instead he captures the essence of the ordinary individual, in a range of informal private gestures and personal activities, with their attendant emotions.

Will Kurtz 'Sweeping Woman' (2011) Wood, metal wire, newspaper, glue, tape, matte medium, bracelets, wig and broom 14 x 30 x 31 in.

Using newsprint as his salient material, the artist infuses its graphic content randomly in and on the surface of the human and animal forms he constructs, bringing sympathy and approachability to his expression. In a refreshingly unpretentious group of figures, the portrayal of daily activities breaks the barriers between art and life. Subconsciously, the viewer identifies with the information that he sees placed on the surface of the forms. This innovative presentation achieves an unusual level of truth. Expressive gestures such as stooping, slumping, dressing, or merely walking the dog, are postures far from “high” art, that give the individuals their appeal, lending a hint of sympathy to these mottled figures. George Segal and Duane Hanson depict the ultra-realistic features of quotidian people in their sculptures, while Kurtz eschews realism in favor of a representational metaphor for contemporary urban existence.

Will Kurtz 'Dancing Girls' (2011) Wood, metal wire, newspaper, glue, tape, matte medium, and rhinestone belt buckles 64 x 88 x 58 in.

While classic beauty is absent, Kurtz’ attention to the details of hair, clothing, accessories, pets, and equipment brings a heightened awareness of each unique character. These accoutrements convey a touching “down-to-earth” eloquence. The figures evoke contemporary heroism. In a culture where mood-altering drugs help cope with daily life, it is the undistinguished who emerge as urban legends. This art seems to affirm that life is still good; even a “lower” life affords freedom, pleasures, and rewards. Just getting out of bed to look at the sky, offers an extreme experience. Kurtz’ portrait of brown-skinned dancers presents a sweet view of the pride and bonhomie that typically characterizes posed group photographs. He courageously infuses quietly sympathetic humor into many of his figures.

Will Kurtz 'Sniffing Ass' (2011) Wood, metal wire, newspaper, glue, tape, matte medium, brassiere, and pantyhose 48 x 20 x 60 in. Will Kurtz 'The Bag Lady' (2011)
Wood, metal wire, newspaper, glue, tape, and matte medium chain, sunglasses and dog leash 65 x 41 x 48 in.

Kurtz’ statues are nothing if not the personification of the “downscale.” They embrace the psychological reality of people whose achievements are few, where awards won’t be granted for barely managing to exist. Kurtz tweaks our “beauty” culture, so extolled in advertising, by challenging the ideal of slim, youthful good looks, that plagues those who fails to achieve it. Why is this lack of external beauty so heartwarming? Perhaps these unusual figures elicit a friend from the past, or a family member who is the “salt of the earth.” Art can be intimidating to the average individual, but almost all will experience sympathetic commiseration, when confronted with a humble example of “Everyman.”

Will Kurtz 'Luther & Francis' (2011) Wood, metal wire, newspaper, glue, tape, matte medium, cane, and necklace 70 x 47 x 21 in.Will Kurtz
'Red' (2011) Wood, metal wire, newspaper, glue, tape, matte medium, synthetic hair and step ladder 25 x 33 x 48 in.

New York City dwellers and art lovers frequently notice the top echelons of the art and entertainment world, as they walk the streets. We are a mixed multi-cultural population. These sculptures capture glimpses of the lives of people who don’t strive to excel, who never lose those pounds, don’t quit smoking, or manage to get that job done. This laissez-faire attitude allows the viewer to relax a little, to guffaw, to identify with the slack, and to take time to be a little more human. The works are positioned so that visitors can easily walk among them; all the more to feel the oneness that is cloaked within the young, old, depressed or happy sculptures on view. The title of the show says it all. The extra-ordinary can be seen as the extreme of ordinary, or as the very special. This exhibition allows viewers to make the choice.

Will Kurtz 'Chalkley' (2011) Wood, metal wire, newspaper, glue, tape, matte medium and necklace 68 x 17 x 17 in.Will Kurtz 'Julio and His Sisters' (2011) Wood, metal wire, newspaper, glue, tape, matte medium shoe laces, earrings, and necklace 46 x 33 x 66 in.

Mary Hrbacek

Mary Hrbacek. Mary Hrbacek has been writing about art in New York City since the late nineties. She has had more than one hundred reviews published in print in The New York Art World, and has written for NY Arts magazine. Her Commentary spans a broad spectrum of art, from the contemporary cutting-edge to the Old Masters. She has covered exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney and the Museum of Modern Art, as well as the Armory Show, the Affordable Art Fair, and two consecutive Venice Biennials. After a trip in 2002 to China, Hrbacek wrote a special essay report on the cities of Beijing, Chongching and on art in Shanghai. Hrbacek is an artist who maintains a studio in Harlem. Website » See other writings

Comments

About NYABlog

NYABlog's writers and video reporters deliver regular reviews, features and interviews to stimulate discussion about all sides of New York's creative scene.

The views expressed on NYABlog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of their employers, or NY Art Beat.

All content on this site is © their respective owner(s).
New York Art Beat (2008) - About - Contact - Privacy - Terms of Use