Wim Delvoye Belgium / 1965
Pretzel #1 (2006)


Guy Pieters Gal., Knokke, acquired by the present owner in 2011

Delvoye’s pathetic pretzel

"Instead of fighting popular culture, we should accept it and chew it."

As in many Flemish households, mother Delvoye also adorned hers with a crucifix. The artist modeled projects such as Pretzel after this simple and unpretentious object. He hauls the recognizable religious iconography of the Christ figure through a computer-controlled mangle to achieve a visually astonishing effect. The twisted and elongated bodies refer to a Gothic aesthetic, where images were also mannered to serve an architectural or decorative visual language.

Stretched out, twisted and distorted: the manipulation emphasizes the suffering of Christ. The loop of bodies forms a crown of thorns, symbol of pathos. Or one could see an ordinary ball of barbed wire. Or even the knot shaped pastry called pretzel. Through this grotesque transformation of a recognizable formal language, the artist provokes a shift from the domain of the sacred to that of the profane, and beyond, to that of the trivial.

He plays with the visible contradiction between the old and the contemporary, the beautiful and the repulsive. This also reminds of his “Saw blade” (lot 515), the saw painted with Delft motifs. Delvoye's creations are quirky and bizarre, but delightfully beautiful and fascinatingly poetic.

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