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10 Things You Should Know about… Wim Delvoye
A closer look 21 Feb 2014

10 Things You Should Know about… Wim Delvoye

Tim Steiner, Wim Delvoye
Tim Steiner with the masterpiece of Wim Delvoye on his back

This week, Artsper tells you about the Belgian pig tattoo artist, the enfant terrible of contemporary art, in 10 essential things to know about Wim Delvoye:

  1. Wim Delvoye is a Belgian visual artist, born in Wervik (West-Flanders) on January 14, 1965. He lives and works in Ghent.
Wim Delvoye dans son atelier à Gand en 2012
Wim Delvoye in his workshop in Gand, 2012

2. He and other Belgian artists such as Jan Fabre, Alain Platel, Jan Lauwers, Luc Tuymans, Panamarenko or Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker are part of a generation of Flemish artists who have revolutionized contemporary art.

Jan Fabre
Jan Fabre, exhibition at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Vienna

3. His constant raunchy mixes place him in the lineage of Brueghel or Bosch, artists who confronted trivial aspects (excretion, food, sexuality) with religious or political ones.

Jérôme Bosh, The Vision of Tondale, XII century
Jérôme Bosh, The Vision of Tondale, XII century

4.In 2000, Wim Delvoye made a sensational entry into the world of contemporary art with his installation Cloaca, first presented at the Mkha in Antwerp.

Cloaca is a machine that reproduces the activity of the human digestive tract and how it works. Twice a day food is introduced into the machine, only to come out a few hours later in the form of real poo… That the spectators are ready to buy vacuum-packed…

machine of Wim Delvoye Cloaca
Wim Delvoye, digestive machine Cloaca, 2000

5. In 2000, keen on traditional practices, he reinvents stained glass.

The Stained Glass series made from X-rays, suggests the contrary, inside of the human body. As always with Delvoye, the perfection of the execution is violently opposed to his subjects – copulating pigs, birthing…

Wim Delvoye, vitrail Melpomene, 2001-2002,
Wim Delvoye, strained-glass window Melpomene, 2000

6. In February 2010, at the MAMAC in Nice, in the framework of the exhibition “Dessins et maquettes “ (Drawings and Models), Wim Delvoye shows seven tattooed pigs. Their skin is sold.

“We tattoo the pigs when they weigh 35 kilos and a Belgian butcher kills him when they reach 200 kilos. Then their skin is cleaned Frozen and brought to Belgium, where it is tanned by a specialist. Finally, it can be presented, depending on its quality, as a hunting trophy or on a frame, like a canvas. Sometimes, I get them stuffed and mounted.”

trois des sept cochons, 2009
Three of the seven tattoed pigs, 2009

7. Wim Delvoye’s works are hard-hitting not because they intend to provoke, but because they are received as provocation.

An artwork may not be perceived as disturbing, unless put in relation to the world of references that it disrupts. That’s easy, isn’t it? The subtlety of contemporary art and scandal  is handled with great mastery by the artist.

8. In 2012, he is on show at the Louvre.

After Tony Cragg, and before Loris Gréaud, Wim Delvoye is the second artist to design a new monumental sculpture for the belvedere column: an immense gothic spire made of Corten steel, Suppo, inspired by Flemish gothic architecture.

Sculpture, en métal , Suppo, de Wim Delvoye au Louvre 2012
Suppo, Louvre, 2012

9. He is represented in Paris by the Emmanuel Perrotin gallery

Wim Delvoye, Emmanuel Perrotin
The artist Wim Delvoye and the famous galerist Emmanuel Perrotin

10. Classé 245e par le rapport Artprice de 2013, Wim Delvoye a totalisé 478 359 € pour 21, avec une enchère max à 75 000 €.