Collection Artwork
A textured painted teal rectangle, with handwritten red lowercase cursive letters surrounded by a shaky red circle at its center, dominates a beige background.
B. Wurtz (born Pasadena, California, 1948)
Untitled (life painting)
1990
acrylic on paper
paper size: 11 x 9 in.
image size: 9 3/4 x 7 7/8 in.
Gift of Andrea Rosen
2017.46.9
Dated in image, lower left: 1990
Signed in image, lower right: B. WURTZ

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.

Tang Collective Catalog


It takes guts to flatten complicated life into a red circle on a turquoise background, and it requires wittiness to reinvent a face using four letters as B. Wurtz has done. In his Untitled (life painting), the curvy letters of the word “life” compose the eyes, nose, and mouth of a face. When “life” transforms into facial components, the word becomes equally sensorial and philosophical: life is what you see, smell, and eat. The whimsical look of the face reveals the playfulness of life, the often profound and serious subject matter that, according to Wurtz’s rendering, is also funny and frivolous. Wurtz’s life painting would make a perfect life emoji amid such a turbulent time under lockdowns and quarantines—life goes on, and have fun.
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