Nicole Wermers

French Junkies # 9


Not on display

Nicole Wermers born 1971
Perspex, copper, styrene, zinc, foil and sand
Unconfirmed: 775 × 245 × 210 mm
Purchased 2010


French Junkies # 9 2002 is a sculpture that resembles a freestanding ashtray, such as might be found outside the lobby of an office building. The main body is a rectangular box made of clear Perspex, topped by a tray of clean sand, as if intended for immediate use. Inside the Perspex structure, a series of copper sheets have been arranged in elliptical shapes recalling the formal experiments of early twentieth-century sculpture, in particular Russian constructivism.

French Junkies # 9 is one of a series of eleven works in which Wermers parodies the structure of a freestanding ashtray, using different configurations of materials and shapes. These sculptures respond to the utilitarian nature of the everyday object and are representative of social and transitional spaces, such as offices, hotels, restaurants and building entrances. Throughout the series, Wermers    introduces references to modernist design, functionalist architecture, and early modern and minimal art forms. These recurring references bring together early modern artistic endeavours and mass-produced objects, drawing attention to the contradiction between individual, personal aesthetics and collective, social production.

Wermers’s sculptures often reformulate what appear to be everyday industrial objects. As well as the series of freestanding ashtrays, she has also produced benches made of transparent acrylic sheets and slate stones, such as Untitled (Bench) 2008, and tables topped with sand, such as Sandtable 2007 (reproduced in Produzentengalerie 2007, p.27). To add to the ambiguity between functional object and aesthetic object, Wermers frequently allows her works to retain their    functional qualities, while at the same time appearing highly aestheticised. Writing about the polarities in Wermers’s work, Tate curator Clarrie Wallis has observed: ‘In connecting the experimental dimension of formalist art with the idea of consumerist luxury and desire, Wermers creates a highly personal critique of contemporary reality, where questions of form, experience and context may once more be negotiated.’ (Wallis 2006, p.142.)

Further reading
Clarrie Wallis, ‘Nicole Wermers’, in Tate Triennial 2006: New British Art, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2006, pp.142–5.
Nicole Wermers: Filialen, exhibition catalogue, Produzentengalerie, Hamburg 2007.

Carmen Juliá
May 2010

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