Erwin Wurm Settles the Standard

Somala Diby

The Meatpacking District is teeming with giants this month. Joining Missoni's 15-plus-foot rendition of Michaelangelo's David is Big Kastenmann, the latest masterpiece of world-renowned Austrian artist Erwin Wurm, which now patrols 13th Street and Washington—you can watch him plant his feet in the Standard's front plaza here.

Both Wurm and the Standard have vested convictions about power and urgency of art in the public sphere, which is exactly how Big Kastenmann became involved in the Standard's ongoing public art program headed by Claire Darrow-Mosier, Creative Director for André Balazs properties. "We enjoy contributing something special to the neighborhood, that encourages interaction, like our annual skating rink in the winter. As soon as the sculpture was installed, people were posing for photos with ‘Big Kastenmann' and laughing," says Darrow-Mosier.

The towering gray 18-foot, 1.6 ton man is charmingly headless, pant-less, and doused in pink, which has Wurm's signature playful impudence and lightly surrealist touch written all over it.  The absurdity complements the Standard both conceptually and architecturally, and has become a surefire attraction to the hotel (not that the hotel is in want of any more publicity). "We are longtime admirers—he has such a great sense of humor," Darrow-Mosier tells us. "All of Wurm's work is about public interaction and offers a performative aspect, which is exactly what we want to encourage in the plaza. We specifically selected this piece because it plays well with the anthropomorphic features of the architecture of our building."

The Wurm-performance art lovefest continues with the sale of a limited edition print, Pee on Someone's Rug (2003), part of his series "Instructions on how to be politically incorrect," described by Darrow-Mosier as "humorous and irreverent." You can nab the print for 2,000 USD exclusively through the Standard, New York's Shop or online at standardhotel.com.

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November 2014

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