January 12 – February 18, 2012
Mike Weiss Gallery is pleased to present Extra F***ing Ordinary, Will Kurtz’s debut exhibition at the gallery. The show consists of life size figural sculptures constructed of collaged torn sheets of newspaper, wood, wire, screws, tape and everyday objects which depict the characters captured by Kurtz’s iPhone camera lens.
Utilizing the observing eye of a curious urban voyeur, Kurtz spends large portions of his days combing the streets of New York for his subjects which are later transformed into sincere and amusing life-size sculptures. It is not the subjects’ aesthetic appeal that draws Kurtz as much as their essence and strong representation of the multitude of prototypes that typify New York City: from an old married couple and endearingly eccentric dog owners to curmudgeonly middle-aged smokers.
Kurtz’s sculptures openly reference real people engaged in real scenarios, be it posing for group shots at a tourist attraction, walking their dog, awkwardly changing their clothes or reluctantly sweeping the floors. Kurtz holds an admiring magnifying glass to the genre of subjects and scenes that are commonly overlooked. The subjects collectively present a candid and unapologetic mosaic of New Yorkers in their blunt, colorful, borderline-manic ways made of the same papers they read in coffee shops and subways during their morning commute.
As important as the subjects are to understanding Kurtz’s works is the medium—discarded and recycled bits of print publication, DIY building and packaging supplies, along with everyday objects that bring a sense of familiarity to the works. Kurtz leaves the subjects’ skin and clothes unpainted, inviting a closer inspection of the kaleidoscopic bits of text and images that form each figure. By emphasizing the technique and the material life of his figures, Kurtz diverges from such realist sculptors as Duane Hanson and Ron Mueck, famous for their meticulous replication of the human skin. Kurtz’s figures, therefore, are more emblematic than realistic, reminding viewers they are constructs of Pop-culture references—from daily savings coupons and scandalous political headlines to the cultural and fashion icons of the style section and page six. Kurtz’s work is more closely affiliated with the everyday reverence seen in Bill Cunningham’s snapshots of fashionable New Yorkers than any unifying sense of timeless existence. It is Kurtz’s own insouciant and humorous reminder of life’s temporality.
Will Kurtz received his MFA from the New York Academy of Art where he was the recipient of the Postgraduate Fellowship, 2009 – 2010. His work is currently in the Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation, Jersey City NJ; Tullman Collection, Chicago IL; Krupp Family Foundation, Boston, MA and the Collection Majudia, Montreal CA. Kurtz was born in Michigan and currently lives and works in Brooklyn NY.
To read the entire article, and view all the photos, please view the Art of the Times winter – spring 2012 issue as a PDF above.