From abstract and interactive sculpture to furniture and collage, Franz West’s oeuvre possesses a character that is at once lighthearted and deeply philosophical. Belonging to a generation of artists exposed to the Actionist and Performance Art of the 1960s and 70s, West instinctively rejected the idea of a passive relationship between artwork and viewer. Opposed to the existential intensity requisite to his performative forebears (such as Actionism), he produced work that was vigorous and imposing yet unbounded and buoyant. In the seventies, he began creating compact, portable, mixed media sculptures called “Adaptives” (“Passstücke”). These “ergonomically inclined” objects were actualized as artworks only when touched, held, worn, carried, or otherwise physically or cognitively engaged. Transposing the concepts engendered by these formative works, he explored sculpture increasingly through the framework of the ongoing dialogue between viewers and objects, while probing the internal aesthetic relations between sculpture and painting. Manipulating everyday materials and imagery in order to examine art’s relation to social experience, West revolutionized the interplay of concealment and exposure, action and reaction, both in and outside the gallery.
Franz West was born in 1947 in Vienna, and died in 2012 in Vienna. He studied at the Academy of Applied Arts from 1977 to 1982. His work has been a fixture in countless international survey exhibitions all over the world. Recent exhibitions include “Burning,” Musée d’Art Contemporain, Marseille (2002); “Franzwestite: Franz West—Works 1973–2003,” Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2003); “We’ll Not Carry Coals,” Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2003); “Recent Sculptures,” Lincoln Center and Doris C. Freedman Plaza, New York (2004); Vancouver Art Gallery (2005); “Les Pommes d’Adam,” Place Vendôme, Paris (2007, traveled to Hall Art Foundation at MASS MoCA - Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, in 2014); “Sit on My Chair, Lay on My Bed,” Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK), Vienna (2008); “To Build A House You Start with the Roof: Work, 1972–2008,” Baltimore Museum of Art (2008, traveled to Los Angeles County Museum of Art through 2009); Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2009); “White Elephant,” Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2009); “Auto-Theatre,” Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2010, traveled to Museo d‘Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples; and Universalmuseum Joanneum, Austria, through 2011); Philadelphia Museum of Art (2012); and “Franz West: Where is my Eight?” Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig (mumok), Vienna (2013, traveled to Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt; and The Hepworth Wakefield, England, through 2014). Public collections including Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate, London; Albertina, Vienna; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; and Museum of Modern Art, New York. He was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 54th Biennale di Venezia in 2011.
A major retrospective of his work will open at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, in fall of 2018, which will then travel to the Tate Modern, London, the following year.
September 4–October 3, 2018
June 8–July 27, 2018
Davies Street, London
September 22–December 16, 2017
Man with a Ball
October 9–November 10, 2012
Britannia Street, London
September 16–October 30, 2010
March 18–April 26, 2008
980 Madison Avenue, New York
Displacement and Condensation
September 12–October 21, 2006
Britannia Street, London
September 9–October 22, 2005
Fairs, Events & Announcements
Mike Kelley and Franz West
To Be Read Aloud (À haute voix)
October 13, October 20, and November 21, 2018, 9pm
Centre Pompidou, Paris
To Be Read Aloud (À haute voix) (1999) is an experimental theater piece by artists Mike Kelley and Franz West. On the occasion of West’s retrospective at Centre Pompidou, director Fanny de Chaillé presents a reenactment of this work—a dialogue in which the artists reflect on the development of their practices within the avant-garde scenes of Los Angeles and Vienna since the 1970s—within West’s installation Auditorium (1992). The event is free with museum admission.
Mike Kelley and Franz West’s poster design for performance of To Be Read Aloud (À haute voix) (1999). Artwork © Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts. All rights reserved/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; and © Archiv Franz West
February 1–4, 2018, booth B19
Gagosian is pleased to participate in artgenève 2018, presenting a selection of works by Richard Artschwager, Georg Baselitz, John Currin, Dadamaino, Edmund de Waal, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Peter Lindbergh, Vera Lutter, Man Ray, Sally Mann, Brice Marden, Olivier Mosset, Albert Oehlen, Steven Parrino, Giuseppe Penone, Sigmar Polke, Ed Ruscha, Blair Thurman, Tatiana Trouvé, Tom Wesselmann, Franz West, Rachel Whiteread, and others. If you wish to receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact us at email@example.com. Tickets are available at www.artgeneve.ch.
Giuseppe Penone, Pelle di foglie—5 foglie a terra, 2011 © Giuseppe Penone
Through December 10, 2018
Centre Pompidou, Paris
Centre Pompidou presents a retrospective on the work of Franz West, with almost two hundred artworks made between 1972 and 2012. The show includes his rarely exhibited drawings from the early 1970s as well as his first sculptures, Passstücke, begun in 1973–74, alongside a selection of the papier-mâché sculptures of the 1980s, and West’s celebrated collaborations with fellow artists. The exhibition also features the collages and drawings of his later years, as well as models for open-air works and a selection of such sculptures, in addition to his furniture works. This extensive presentation highlights not only the artist’s outstanding capacity for formal invention, but also his irreverent and caustic sensibility.
Franz West’s Lemurenköpfe (Lemur Heads) (1992) in his studio, Vienna, 1992. Artwork © Archiv Franz West. Photo: Harald Schönfellinger
We Are Here
August 19, 2017–April 1, 2018
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
In honor of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s fiftieth anniversary, the museum presents We Are Here, a three-part exhibition drawn from its collection. I Am You gathers works that question how we relate to and shape our environments; You Are Here examines how the role of the viewer has changed over time; and We Are Everywhere showcases artists who borrow from popular culture. Work by Richard Artschwager, Francis Bacon, Chris Burden, Ellen Gallagher, Andreas Gursky, Michael Heizer, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Rudolf Stingel, Andy Warhol, and Franz West is included.
Jeff Koons, Rabbit, 1986 © Jeff Koons.
Photo by Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago
Paper into Sculpture
October 14, 2017–February 4, 2018
Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas
This exhibition plays on tensions between commonly held understandings of sculpture and what paper can and cannot do, pushed to its physical limits. Treating paper as a material with a palpable three-dimensional presence rather than as a mere support for mark making, artists in this show use processes ranging from tearing, crumpling, and cutting to scattering, binding, and adhering to create sculptural works that take a variety of forms and suggest a range of expressive and conceptual implications. Work by Nancy Rubins and Franz West is included.
Nancy Rubins, Drawing, 2005 © Nancy Rubins
September 19, 2017–January 22, 2018
Austrian Cultural Forum, New York
Wild West is a group exhibition commemorating the dynamic legacy of the late Austrian artist Franz West. Curated by former West collaborator Andreas Reiter Raabe, the show consists of works by Franz West, his New York–based contemporaries, including Urs Fischer and Rudolf Stingel, and commissioned works by emerging artists from both New York and Austria.
Installation view, Wild West, Austrian Cultural Forum, New York, September 20, 2017–January 22, 2018. Artwork © Urs Fischer and © Rudolf Stingel. Photo by David Plakke/ACFNY