At Friedman Benda, Marcel Wanders Lets Accident into Design

THE DAILY PIC: In 'One Minute Sculptures,' the Dutch designer plays like a kid.


THE DAILY PIC (#1514): Marcel Wanders is one of the leaders of the great conceptual design movement in the Netherlands. But most of his pieces, for all their brains and wit, have held on to the sleek shapes and surfaces of late Modernism. That is true of many of the objects in his current gallery show (his first anywhere, amazingly) at Friedman Benda in New York – with the distinct exception of the ones in today’s Pic. They are from a series Wanders calls his “One Minute Sculptures”  and they are made of course in the time span of their title, squeezed out in clay by his own hands. (They have no relation to the Erwin Wurms body sculptures that unfortunately got the  name first.)

By pure chance, Wanders was in the gallery when I visited, and he told me that he was inspired to make these pieces one day when he was playing with his daughter and found himself impressed by her spontaneity.

It’s true that expressive accidents, although an utter cliché in fine art, have never had much leverage in modern and contemporary design: Preplanning and fine finish have always ruled. The brilliantly improvised chairs of Martino Gamper are a rare exception, and now that Wanders has tasted improvisation in his sculptures I wonder if he’ll want to savor it in functional pieces. He has made wonderful vases from the accidental shapes that tiny snot particles form in the air, and they look rather like his clay sculptures. I wonder what chairs or tables he could make from the accidents that form in his mind? (Courtesy Friedman Benda and Marcel Wanders Studio; photos by Andrew Meredith)

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