Franz West


Franz West was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1947. He studied with Bruno Gironcoli at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna from 1977 to 1982. He received numerous prizes, i. e., in 1993 the Sculpture Award of the Generali Foundation and in 1998 the Wolfgang Hahn Prize of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany. He died on July 25th, 2012 in Vienna.

Additional biography

By the mid 1970s, West developed his Adaptives, made from polyester plastics, combined with eve-ryday objects such as wire, paper mâché, and plaster of Paris bandages, which were shaped into amorphous objects that would attach themselves almost automatically to the human body. Franz West was in close con-tact with musicians and writers, but it was psychoanalysis and Wittgenstein’s philosophy that had a particu-larly strong influence on him. His first exhibitions took place at the Gallery nächst St. Stephan. Towards the end of the 1980s, West expanded his principles of archetypal sculpture to include furniture as pieces of sculp-ture. In 1987, he developed his sculptural work Eo Ipso for the Sculpture. Projects Münster exhibition in Ger-many. In 1989 he produced a set of chairs and couches, which were set up in front of selected paintings and sculptures during an exhibition at the Art Historical Museum in Vienna. In 1990 West took part in the Biennale di Venezia, exhibiting not only aluminum casts of the Adaptives, but also the multi-sectional sculpture, Revi-sion, in the Austrian pavilion. West also employed African fabrics imprinted with everyday objects as covers for his sitting sculptures, which would only “become art by being sat on.” His iron benches, covered with old Middle Eastern rugs and arranged in the shape of an open-air movie theater at the Documenta IX, acquired legendary status. Also during the following Documenta X, in Kassel, Germany, in 1997, West took care of the seating arrangements by “chairing” the main venue. West enjoys arranging his works in a diversity of artistic contexts and in the company of other artist friends. Thus, on the occasion of his award presentation in 1993, he arranged for a Divertissement or entertainment, involving his own furniture pieces as chairs and tables, enhanced by live-music and poetry readings. Cooperating with Heimo Zobernig (tables), Peter Kogler (fabric design), and Marcus Geiger (color advisor), West also designed the interior of the restaurant on the premises of the former “Habig” hat shop situated behind the Generali Foundation’s exhibition hall. West has arranged a number of the early Adaptives and photo montages brought together in the collection into several new installa-tions. (SB/DL)

Artist's books

  • Franz West. Otium. Ed. König, Kasper; Schlebrügge, Johannes. Texts by Kobalek, Otto; Wechsler, Max. Zürich: Edition "Unikate" Peter Zimmermann, 1995.
    KM West Franz 16 -
  • Otium. Franz West. Ed. Ihle, Astrid. London: Koenig Books, 2018.
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