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Wim Delvoye, Cement Truck, 2009.  Photo Phillips de Pury & Company

laser-cut steel; 59 x 168 x 44 cm (23 1/4 x 66 1/8 x 17 3/8 in). This work is unique. ESTIMATE £150,000-250,000 - SOLD AT £157,250 

PROVENANCE : Acquired directly from the artist

Since the early 1990s, Belgian artist Wim Delvoye has challenged the contemporary art world with his paradoxical work. Delvoye’sCement Truck, executed in 2009, is a magnificent example from his series of ‘Gothic Works’. In Cement Truck, Delvoye has used Corten steel which is popular with many architects. The steel has been lasercut, folded and welded to achieve the layered look. The rusted surface of the work gives it the aged appearance as if the work could belong to the times that inspired its design. Delvoye works with a team of architects who assist him in his designs of the ‘Gothic Works’. The present lot belongs to the Cement Trucksseries that began as wood sculptures in 1990–99 and continued in 2008 when the artist turned to steel, as he had previously done with Flat Bed Trailer (2007), Dump Trucks (2006) andCaterpillars (2001–02).

In imitation of the masterpieces of Gothic architecture such as Notre Dame de Paris and Duomo di Milano, the artist merges the past with the present in this work. He has taken a completely functional object like a truck and rendered it entirely in as elaborately ornamental decoration, Delvoye transforms the object into an artistic one. The delicate metal tracery is in direct and witty opposition to the heavy-duty utilitarian nature of the truck and sets today’s industrial technology against the image of medieval craftsmanship – there is a natural contrast here too between the secular and the divine. This playful take on an historical style is more than just ornament, however – as the artist himself has said, “Gothic is not a style; it’s a mentality, like Romanticism” (in an interview in Wound, Summer 2009, p. 143).

This striking work is replete not only with decorative elements, but also with meaning and paradox. In its hybrid qualities, it exposes a bizarre, even grotesque aesthetic which, along with the artist’s other works, creates a particular discourse within contemporary art and challenges, more than most artists today, the definition of art.

Phillips de Pury & Company.  Contempory Art. 28 june 2012. London http://www.phillipsdepury.com