Today, the artworks produced by Franz West can be found in the most renowned international museums, collections, galleries, and public spaces. All of these works still possess something of the intimate intellectual space and instinctiveness from which they arose. They virtually ambush their viewers, assertively demanding undivided attention. Franz West, in his openness to simultaneity, ambivalence and fractures, created elemental scenarios somewhere between life and art, between the street and the museum.
West had an original way of admitting spontaneous communicative phenomena and constellations into his personal and artistic worlds. And both life scenarios and human encounters flowed into the intuitive and witty choreographies according to which he proceeded in his artistic work. His art opens up insights into the depth of the surface and the duration of the instant, the significance of which he keenly understood. His works always found their consummation in the encounter. West’s Adaptives and seating furniture were openly conceived, awaiting completion via their reception, application and employment by new counterparts, free from any unconditional insistence on original intentions. The artist thus captured what is quite probably a phenomenon of central significance within contemporary art—and in this respect, he was a pioneer of its subsequent development far beyond the local art scene.
West allays the hesitance, that fear of saying or thinking the wrong thing, that art so often evokes in its audience. Few artworks manage to approach the human being as closely as do his, turning reception into participation and sites inhabited by art into lively places.
This aspect should not and cannot be diminished following his departure from this world; his sculptures must not be permitted to represent mere relics of a lively process.
Therefore, in addition to documenting the output of Franz West in the most complete manner possible, this archive’s purpose is also to make possible an appropriate way of approaching the artist himself.
Franz West now in Venice
Christine Macel, Director of the 57th Biennale in Venice 2017 and curator of the main exhibition “VIVA ARTE VIVA” has selected a series of works by Franz West as well as video documentation on his practice that creates a point of departure of the exhibition’s section titled “The Artist’s Pavilion”. West rejected the traditionally passive nature of the relationship between artwork and viewer. His work is fundamentally participative in its approach seeking dialog with its recipients.
Regular Guest in Venice
Franz West (1947—2012) was honoured with the Golden Lion for Life Time Achievement at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. In 1990 Franz West represented Austria at the Biennale in Venice, commissioned by Hans Hollein. This photo (© Freddie Jellinek) shows 29 year old Franz West together with his older brother Otto Kobalek at the Austrian Pavilion 1976. (Austrian representatives: Rudolf Hoflehner / Rudolf Kedl / Reimo Wukounig / Wolfgang Walkensteiner
Commissioner: Lee Springschitz)
1970 Franz West begins working as an artist · 1977–82 Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, under Bruno Gironcoli · 1992/93 Professor at the Städelschule in Frankfurt/Main, Germany · 1986 Otto Mauer Prize, Vienna · 1993 Sculpture Prize of the EA-Generali Foundation, Vienna · 1998 Wolfgang Hahn Prize of the Gesellschaft für moderne Kunst at Museum Ludwig, Cologne · 2011 Golden Lion, 54th Venice Biennale / Austrian Decoration for Science and Art