Kurt Wenner

Kurt WennerAmong his other talents, Kurt Wenner is a “street painter”, an artist who does highly rendered “paintings” in colored chalk on public sidewalks, usually with a fairly high degree of draughtsmanship and most often in European cities. (American cities are usually too up-tight to allow “art” on the sidewalk, even temporarily; advertising maybe, but not art.)

For more on this fascinating practice, see my post from last fall on its other notable proponent, Julian Beever.

As with Beever, Wenner’s street paintings sometimes take the form of straightforward classical or original images rendered on the pavement. The most intriguing sidewalk images, however, are anamorphic; distorted in a way that, when viewed from a certain angle, produces a dramatic illusion of 3-dimensionality.

Wenner’s site doesn’t demonstrate it, but you can see an excellent example of how this works on these two pages from Beever’s site: the illusionistic view, and the anamorphic image from another angle.

With Beever, (who plays the pop art counterpart to Wenner’s classical approach), it is often the illusion of a 3-dimensional object on or above the plane of the pavement. Occasionally he projects depth below.

Wenner, however, prefers the illusion of depth below the pavement and creates spectacular images of ornately decorated structures that appear to be sunken into the sidewalk. Many of his painting sessions also take on the flavor of public events.

Wenner is certainly the more classically proficient draughtsman of the two and his images often carry the feeling of the classical trompe l’oeil techniques, used to add the illusion of ornate decoration to plain architectural elements, that were popular in the Baroque period. In fact, Wenner himself does this for clients and you can see a rather striking example of it here.

Wenner also does traditional painting, sculpture and decorative relief, as well as designing fanciful architecture. He used to be a scientific space illustrator for NASA(!). There is also a gallery of his street painting at Snopes.com.

Link via John Nack on Adobe.

 
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3 Replies to “Kurt Wenner”

  1. I just purchased a piece attributed to you in Sberna shop in Duruta. I appears to be a broken piece of ceramic on which are drawn 2 horses. It appealed to me immediately. The shop owner told me it was done by Kurt Wenner and I just want to say how much I love it. Helen Vannelli, San Francisco

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