Wim Delvoye is a world-renowned neo-conceptual artist, celebrated for his thought-provoking and philosophical ideas, innovative use of materials, and dedication to craftsmanship. His artistic endeavors blur the boundaries between traditional art and the contemporary digital realm, elevating art and design to new levels of invention while offering insightful commentary on contemporary society.
Delvoye draws inspiration from various aspects of art history, finding creative sparks in the intricacies of Gothic cathedrals, 19th-century sculptures, and the works of Bosch, Brueghel, and Warhol. In a unique blend of homage and innovation, he appropriates and distorts motifs that capture his imagination, revealing the beauty in everyday objects.
Since the early 2000s, Delvoye has embarked on an exploration of past artistic styles and monumentality. By combining medieval Gothic with contemporary themes and industrial techniques, he aims to create a new form of contemporary architecture. His sculptures, crafted from laser-cut corten steel plates, showcase neo-Gothic tracery, utilizing ornaments not just for decorative purposes, but as symbols of value and permanence in the modern era.
“Maserati 450s” (2015) sculpture, humorously referred by artist to as the “new flying carpet,” features a late-1950s’ Maserati 450S racing car adorned with elaborate Middle Eastern designs. Extending this concept, Delvoye decorated luxurious Rimowa-brand suitcases with traditional patterns and iconic imagery from his existing body of work in collaboration with Iranian craftsmen.
In the “Twisted Tyres” series (2013), Delvoye presents bicycle tires placed on pedestals, reformed into Mobius puzzles, rendering the wheels functionless, gaining new significance as art objects. His artistic approach constantly oscillates between the local and the global, employing sarcasm to confront contemporary myths that permeate society, spanning religion, science, and tenets of capitalism. Delvoye’s art takes audiences on a virtual journey through exquisite transformations of ordinary objects.
In the 1990s, Delvoye embarked on a daring experiment with tattoo art, tattooing the skin of pigs with Western iconography, including old school drawings, the Louis Vuitton monogram, and characters from Disney cartoons. This unusual fusion raises thought-provoking questions about the commercial value of brands and challenges conventional expectations of consumer society.
Delvoye radicalized the critical function of art in the ’90s with his renown “Cloaca” project. This machine simulates the human digestive system, consuming a mix of food and producing realistic waste. Delvoye’s “Cloaca” is not a metaphor, but a concrete manifestation of the mechanisms of the modern economy. It features a logo reminiscent of a mocking cross between Mr. Clean and the Coca-Cola logo, reflecting the commercialized mass market with added value. The waste products created by the Machine automatically become conceptual art objects, paradoxically gaining saleability and additional commercial value, reflecting the anomaly of the consumer society.
Delvoye’s “Spud Gun” sculptures take their name from children’s toy guns that use potatoes as ammunition. These shiny, technological, but actually dangerous toys have a bricolage aspect and are capable of firing, symbolizing humanity’s accumulated desire for self-defense. Simultaneously, they raise important questions about the blurred boundaries between games and cruelty and the frivolous attitude towards violence in today’s society.
Throughout the years, Wim Delvoye’s work has graced numerous prestigious venues worldwide, including the Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy (2009), Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) in Nice, France (2010), Musée Rodin in Paris, France (2010), Palais des Beaux-Arts (BOZAR) in Brussels, Belgium (2010-2011), Louvre in Paris, France (2012), the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (2012), Pushkin State Museum of Fine Art in Moscow, Russia (2014), Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, Iran (2016), and MUDAM in Luxembourg (2016).