Kurt Wenner

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Iskandar, the last king of Singapore in the fourteenth century by Kurt Wenner at the National Museum of Singapore

Kurt Wenner is an artist with an international following. He is best known for his invention of 3-D pavement art. Wenner was inspired by anamorphic perspective, but had to invent an entirely new geometry in order to create his astonishing 3-D pavement art images.


Kurt Wenner was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on April 17, 1958 but grew up in Santa Barbara, California. Kurt Wenner produced his first commissioned mural at the age of sixteen and by sixteen to seventeen he was earning his living as a graphic artist. He attended both Rhode Island School of Design and Art Center College of Design, before working for NASA. While at NASA Wenner worked as an advanced scientific illustrator, creating conceptual paintings of future space projects and extraterrestrial landscapes. In 1982 he left NASA, sold all of his Mantua.

In the mid-1980s[1] Wenner first introduced 3-D pavement art at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Shortly after that he founded the first street painting festival in the United States at the Old Mission in Santa Barbara, California. The Old Mission festival, also known as I Madonnari, continues to this day as do many of the festivals and events Wenner started throughout the country. One often-overlooked fact of Wenner's career is that he dedicated one month every year, for ten years, to teach more than 100,000 students from elementary through university level how to work with chalks and pastels. For his dedication, he was awarded the Kennedy Center Medallion for his outstanding contribution to arts education.

With the ever-increasing popularity of Wenner's images, hundreds of artists around the globe became inspired to create their own versions of three-dimensional pavement art. Artists such as Julian Beever, Manfred Stader, and Edgar Muller as well as others can trace their roots back to his invention in the early 1980s. By using computer programs or a simplified geometry to create their illusions they are able to approximate the effect of Wenner's three-dimensional illusion.

Wenner's images always tell a story and challenge the public to reconsider the use of classicism (discarded during the era of Modern art). Wenner believes that the language of classicism is a critical tool that has been overlooked for far too long. He developed 3-D pavement art precisely to illustrate that a new art form can be expressed within this language. Wenner has not only become known for his own body of work, he has inadvertently become the father of an art movement.

After participating in countless festivals, Wenner returned to fine art painting on commission and also creating sculptures, decorative stucco relief, ceramic murals, architectural designs, and numerous images for publicity and advertising. Wenner's latest creation is his book, Asphalt Renaissance, which documents the history of pavement art and his role in transforming it from a dying tradition to a dynamic multi-dimensional art form.


Wenner lived in Rome for twenty-five years before returning to the United States. His work has been exhibited in thirty countries and he continues to work for clients all over the world. His book, Asphalt Renaissance, is available on the internet and at book stores worldwide.

He was featured at the Sarasota Chalk Festival in 2011 as a lecturer and he also created a street painting at the event with students, as an instructional lesson on perspective.[2] He is returning to the 2012 Sarasota festival for lectures and street painting.

Media attention[edit]

1987, Masterpieces in Chalk the National Geographic documentary featuring Wenner's work in Europe won first place in the fine arts division at the New York Film Festival, and in 1991, Swiss-German Television created a 45-minute documentary on his work in Italy.

1988, I Madonnari alla festa delle Grazie, director Paolo Mercurio, cultural Project Ministero per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali, Mantua – Grazie di Curtatone, Italy, August 1988.

1996, Wenner created a print ad for Absolut Vodka as part of its prestigious artist ad series. The ad is known as Absolut Wenner and the creation of the image was produced as a television commercial.

2010, Greenpeace called for a ban of genetically modified crops and presented the European Union members in Brussels with one million signatures on a petition at the site of a 22 meter by 22 meter image in 3-D by Kurt Wenner that was created for the ceremony.[3] The giant composition set a world record for the largest image of its kind drawn by a single person.[4][5]


  • Kennedy Center Medallion
  • Golden Bacchus
  • Golden Giotto


  1. ^ I was director of the museum at the time and commissioned him to create a chalk mural on the plaza of our new Alice Keck Park wing
  2. ^ Ed Bertha (November 17, 2011). "Kurt Wenner Anamorphic Chalk". allthingsrealestate.com. Real Magazine. Retrieved November 17, 2011. 
  3. ^ Pispini, Myrto, Over a million EU Citizens finally have their say on GM crops,December 9, 2010
  4. ^ Pyramid Visuals, Avaaz and the Citizen's Initiative
  5. ^ Pyramid Visuals, Kurt Wenner

External links[edit]