Philadelphia Wireman


March 11 - April 22, 2006
521 W 21 Street
Opening Friday, March 10, 2006


Press Release

Matthew Marks is pleased to announce an exhibition of the sculptures by the Philadelphia Wireman, the next exhibition in his gallery at 521 West 21st Street. Over 30 sculptures will be included in this exhibition, the largest New York show ever of this extraordinary work.

The Philadelphia Wireman sculptures were found abandoned on a side street in Philadelphia on trash night in 1982. These sculptures—all intricately bound together with tightly-wound heavy-gauge wire—include a wide variety of found objects, including bits of plastic, glass, leather, batteries, eyeglasses, food packaging, umbrella parts, nails, aluminum foil, and children's toys. Over a thousand of these small-scale sculptures were discovered at once, all held easily in one's palm, and all seeming to bear witness to the same obsessive, inspired hand. A masterful bricoleur, this unidentified artist made culturally-resonant sculptures that constantly take on new meanings. They are at once anthropomorphic reclamations of what we have discarded and urban fetishes designed to protect their owners in the city's back alleys.

Dubbed the "Philadelphia Wireman" during the first exhibition of this work, in 1985, the artist has never been identified. While it is presumed that these works must have been discarded upon their maker's death, the Philadelphia Wireman's name, age, ethnicity, and even gender remain uncertain.

The work of the Philadelphia Wireman has been shown at numerous museums in the United States and Europe, including the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; the San Jose Museum of Art; the Musée d'Art Brut, Lausanne; the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts; the Museum for African Art, New York; and, most recently, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Wireman will be on view at the Matthew Marks Gallery at 521 West 21st Street through April 22, 2006. Hours: Thursday and Friday, 1:00 to 6:00 P.M., Saturday, 11:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.

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