press release

TORRE, A NEW SCULPTURE BY WIM DELVOYE AT THE PEGGY GUGGENHEIM COLLECTION, ‘The Gothic energy, the love of life, and the everyday struggle to achieve a more intense expressive vigour’ John Ruskin

‘My fascination with the Gothic isn’t dark at all. For me it evokes the springtime of Europe’ Wim Delvoye

From June 3 to November 22, 2009 the Peggy Guggenheim Collection presents Belgian artist Wim Delvoye’s latest creation, Torre: a corten steel tower, with ogival windows, tracery and turrets in the International Gothic style, on the terrace of Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, overlooking the Grand Canal.

Both architecture and ornament, Torre by Delvoye demonstrates not only ethereal majesty and vision but forceful material presence, drawing inspiration from masterpieces of Gothic architecture such as Notre Dame, Paris, and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York. From a fusion of the sublime with the most advanced capabilities of computer technology, the Gothic style of Torre unites it with the Romantic paintings of Caspar David Friedrich and Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Wim Delvoye’s artistic practice draws on the notion of the attraction of binary opposites: the sacred and the profane, the past and the present, the triumph of ornamentation over functionality. His art thrives on such paradoxes, that also form the basis of Surrealist artistic practice, combining these components of difference, not always manifest but ever present in his aesthetic. The placement of a Gothic tower from the High Middles Ages in the vicinity of Palazzo Venier dei Leoni’s 18th century classicism creates just such a forceful and provocative paradox.

For Wim Delvoye: “While the Renaissance was a world view, the Gothic was a state of mind. The Renaissance was a finite epoch lasting half a century before being succeeded by Mannerism. Gothic was an art outside of time. The human eye takes in detail like a stroboscope; glancing over lights and tracery, crockets and finials, it thrills to the joy of the tower’s soaring ascent.” Born in 1965, Wim Delvoye lives and works in Ghent. He earned international recognition with his participation in the Venice Biennale in 1990 and 1999 and Documenta IX in 1992. Recent projects include solo exhibitions at the Ernst Museum Budapest (February-March 2008), a presentation of one of his Cloaca machines at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary (June-August 2008) and participation in exhibitions at MARTa in Herford (April-June 2008), Weserburg in Bremen (May 2008) and CAPC Bordeaux (June-September 2008).

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Wim Delvoye. TORRE