B. Wurtz: Works in Handmade Paper 2013-2015

Dieu Donné
May 5, 2015 4:04PM

Dieu Donné is pleased to present an exhibition of new works in handmade paper by B. Wurtz created in the studio during the artist’s Lab Grant Program residency. The artist’s unique two-and-three-dimensional artworks will be on view in the Dieu Donné gallery from April 30 to June 6, 2015. There will be an opening reception on Thursday, April 30 from 6-8pm and the artist will be present. A full color Lab Grant Publication will accompany the exhibition featuring an essay by art critic and historian Jan Avgikos. 

Food, clothing, and shelter are the three basic human needs that compose a running theme seen throughout B. Wurtz’s career, and are manifested in several bodies of works that were produced in his Lab Grant residency. As Avgikos writes in her enlightening catalog essay, the humble objects frequently seen in his work are “set in soft collision with deluxe handmade paper, which in and of itself is a powerful sensual and signifying presence,” bringing together mass produced found items and handcrafted materials. 

Working in collaboration with Artistic Director Paul Wong and Studio Collaborator Lisa Switalski, Wurtz’s residency spanned 2013-2015. Certain sculptural forms and materials common to the artist’s practice, as well as insignias seen in his art since the 1990’s, were translated and adapted in the medium of handmade paper. Wurtz’s aptitude for experimentation and working collaboratively in a medium that was new to him is evident in the energetic and often humorous works that were produced in this residency. 

Wurtz’s Food-Clothing-Shelter logo was re-created in stenciled linen pulp on thin sheets of pigmented abaca formed to mimic small plastic shopping bags, and affixed to pulp covered wire hangers. The letters l-i-f-e, arranged in the composition of a human face, was created as a watermark to pull thin sheets of vibrant abaca paper and pressed onto cotton base sheets, with linen pulp painting on top. 

Paper plays an essential role in each type of work - from its ability to imitate the natural sheaths of fruits and vegetables or commercial grocery bags - to the particularities of the medium’s various creative applications. Wurtz used pulp paint and different types of paper to embed and collage plastic lids and bags, newsprint grocery store circulars and New York Times articles. As a sculptural process, metal light switches were embossed into brightly colored cotton, and styrofoam balls and bowls were cast in cotton to create components in free-standing structures.

About the Artist 

B. Wurtz was born in Pasadena, California and since 1985 has lived and worked in New York City. He received a BA from the University of California at Berkeley in 1970 and an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 1980. Recent solo exhibitions include Metro Pictures, New York; Kate MacGarry, London; Galerija Gregor Podnar, Berlin; Maisterravalbuena, Madrid; White Flag Projects, St. Louis; Kunstverein Freiburg, Germany; and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Connecticut. Wurtz’s work has been included in the recent group exhibitions Displayed (curated by Matthew Higgs) at Anton Kern Gallery, New York; Jim Isermann/B. Wurtz at Mary Boone Gallery, New York; Stay in Love (curated by Chris Sharp) at Laurel Gitlen & Lisa Cooley Gallery, New York; Alexandre da Cunha, Michael Rey, Michael Williams, B. Wurtz at Office Baroque in Antwerp, Belgium; and Prague Biennial in the Czech Republic. A solo museum exhibition with publication will take place in 2015 at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, England. 

About Dieu Donné 

Dieu Donné is a non-profit contemporary artist workspace dedicated to the creation, promotion, and preservation of new art made using hand papermaking techniques. The organization’s primary services and programs are devoted to working with mid-career and emerging artists through collaborative residency opportunities. The Dieu Donné gallery is open to the public Tuesday - Friday, 10 am - 6pm and Saturday 12 - 6pm or by appointment. Dieu Donné is on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube


The artistic and educational programs at Dieu Donné are made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and Foundation support including: Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation, Inc, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, The Greenwall Foundation, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Minnow Fund, The New York Community Trust, The O’Grady Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts and The Partnership Fund for New York City along with major individual support.

Dieu Donné