Ernst Lurker’s PlayArt,
An Art to Inspire Play
Ernst Lurker has enriched and enlivened the current art scene with original sculptures and multiples that invite viewers to creatively manipulate these pieces. With his “PlayArt” - a term he coined to establish the context of his work - he has also laid the theoretical foundations of a new art form which ranks with styles like “pop art” and “op art,” while reflecting the spirit of our era's increasing interest in all kinds of technical games. ln his essay on “PlayArt and Creativity” Lurker emphasizes - and rightly so - that the play spirit is one of the basic instincts of man, and that playful experimentation has been the catalyst for many great inventions of modern times.
The enigmatic forms and shapes in the works of artists like Picasso, Klee and Miró arose from such a playful spirit, although these creations cannot be termed “PlayArt” since active viewer participation is an essential criterion of this new art form. Artists like Berrocal, Tinguely or Agam have worked in this direction by creating objects which can be dismantled, altered or set into motion by the beholder. Lurker goes a decisive step further in not only making play the main subject of his work, but by actually declaring it as “PlayArt”, a term that causes some discomfort in art circles. Most of Lurker's objects allow innumerable variations, others only a few. The key in all cases is that the play principle is elevated to the level of art, where it can change prevailing attitudes towards play and provide new access to creativity: Captivated with the movable and variable objects the viewer - or rather, the user - assumes an active role and experiences the creative process first-hand. This playful approach leads to the joy of unexpected discoveries, sparking the user's curiosity to find still further variations. With the mass production of the play art object, a large number of users can actively participate in the creative process.
Lurker has created sculptures and multiples on many different scales - ranging from hand-held play objects to huge outdoor sculptures. His most recent creation, a PlayArt sculpture called "Heart Pill", consists of a two-part capsule which can be transformed into a heart shape by rotating the two elements. This multiple not only combines the allusive elements of pill and heart, but embodies the heart as an all-encompassing symbol of soul, spirit and love, courage, passion and enthusiasm. The heart is the dominant recurring theme of the artist's work - appearing in numerous variations - as a small-scale gem or as a project for a large-scale motorized sculpture intended as a tribute to a "city with heart".
Prof. Dr. Hanns Theodor Flemming,
Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg, l984