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August 29, 2012

Quirky Public Art at The Standard Hotel

By Erin Schumaker | Arts + Culture

Erwin Wurm's Big Kastenmann
Erwin Wurm "Big Kastenmann" (2012). Courtesy of the Artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York. Photography by Adrian Gaut.

As part of The Standard, High Line NYC’s ongoing public-art program, The Standard commissioned Austrian installation artist Erwin Wurm to create something especially for the hotel. Wurm is known for his offbeat, at times humorous projects (his limited-edition Pee on Someone’s Rug prints are currently on sale at The Standard), and his latest project is anything but shy. Big Kastenmann (Big Box Man in English) weighs 1.6 tons and stands at a towering 18 feet tall. Moreover, the aluminum figure is headless, pantless and covered in pink enamel paint. We caught up with Wurm to get the scoop.

Q: What was your inspiration for Big Kastenmann?

A: I was actually combining a human form and a geometric form and it became this strange object in between. I added legs to make it a bit more figurative and also to relate it to The Standard’s architecture. The Standard is kind of block-shaped, or two blocks, in a way. So I wanted to add something with a similar language.

Erwin Wurm
Photo by Christian Wind, courtesy the Artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York

Q: We have to ask—why doesn’t the sculpture have a head?

A: I was more interested in having a picture of people—a personality of someone but not a singular person. In a way, it’s more an image of a human being and not a singular person that I’m interested in.

Q: What do you hope that New Yorkers get out of this piece?

A: Well, I don’t know. When you create a piece, you do it primarily for yourself, and then when you show it to the public they discuss it among themselves, and hopefully the reception is good and people are interested in it. But I’m not expecting that. I did something and put it out in the world.

Q: Do you have any new projects on the horizon?

A: Yes, yes, yes. I have a big show in Spain, one in Ghana and another show at my gallery in Paris. It’s great.

Sculpture on view through November 2; rooms, from $370; 848 Washington St.; 212-645-4646; standardhotels.com.