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.
1947 Vienna – 2012 Vienna
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
After his international breakthrough in the 1980ties Franz West had numerous solo-exhibitions and exhibition-participations worldwide, amongst them comprehensive retrospectives with several venues:
Franz West, Proforma, Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Vienna, March 16–May 19 1996, curator: Eva Badura-Triska; Kunsthalle Basle, June 9–August 25.1996, curator: Peter Pakesch; Kröller-Müller Museum Otterlo, October 5 1996–January 10 1997, curator: Marianne Brouwer
Franz West, to build a house you have to start with the roof, Baltimore Museum of Art, October 12 2008–January 4 2009; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 15–June 7, 2009, curator: Darsie Alexander
Franz West, Gnadenlos/Merciless, MAK – Museum für angewandte Kunst Vienna, November 21 2001–February 24 2002; MASS MoCA – Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, April 26–October 27 2002, curator: Martina Kandeler-Fritsch
Franz West, Autotheater, Museum Ludwig Cologne, December 11 2009–March 14 2010, curators: Katja Baudin, Kapser König; Madre – Museo d'arte contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples, May 15–August 23 2010, curator: Mario Codognato; Kunsthaus Graz, September 24 2010–January 9 2011, curator: Peter Pakesch
Franz West, Wo ist mein Achter ? / Where is my Eight?, Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Vienna, February 23– May 26 2013, curator: Eva Badura-Triska; MMK – Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfort, June 29—October13 2013, curator: Klaus Görner; The Hepworth Wakefield, June 13– September 14 2014, curator: Eva Badura-Triska
Franz West, Centre Pompidou Paris, September 12–October 10 2018,curator: Christine Macel; Tate Modern London, February 20–June 2 2019, curator: Mark Godfrey
1992 and 1997 West participated in documenta.
1990 represented Austria at the Venice Biennale.