Juan Muñoz Minaret for Otto Kurz 1985

Juan Muñoz
Minaret for Otto Kurz 1985
Collection of Francis de Beir
© The estate of Juan Muñoz

Muñoz considered Spiral Staircase 1984 to be his first mature work as a sculptor. Like the balconies, it was inspired by a familiar architectural structure and similarly represents a transitional ‘in-between’ space, embodying the momentum of both descending and ascending. ‘It made me very aware of the possibility of working on a reduced scale’, he later said. ‘I’m continually interested in how something small can animate a large amount of space.’

The Persian carpet of Minaret for Otto Kurz 1985 demarcates the space around the welded iron tower, but also acts ‘like a map of the city’, Muñoz said. ‘The first time I placed the piece in my studio, I always had this feeling that this tower was overlooking the city.’ Otto Kurz was a Viennese art historian who captured Muñoz’s imagination after he came across a reference to a major book that Kurz had written about ‘the prohibition of images in different cultures’, particularly Islamic cultures. After an intensive search, Muñoz discovered that the book never progressed beyond a stack of unconnected notes and references.