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 1973, he began creating compact, portable, mixed media sculptures called Passstücke (Adaptives). 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 including “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, North Adams, Massachusetts in 2014); “Sit on My Chair, Lay on My Bed,” Museum für angewandte Kunst, 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, Vienna (2013, traveled to Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main; and the Hepworth Wakefield, England, through 2014). A major retrospective of his work was held at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2018, traveled to Tate Modern, London through 2019).
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, DC; and Museum of Modern Art, New York. He was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 54th Biennale di Venezia in 2011.
Photo: courtesy Archiv Franz West and Estate Franz West
Fairs, Events & Announcements
In conjunction with Frieze Los Angeles, Franz West’s sculpture Green Fortune (2008) has been installed on the roof of Gagosian, Beverly Hills.
West’s interactive and highly endearing outdoor sculptures, which he began making in the 2000s, transform public spaces into sociable aesthetic environments, challenging the boundaries between art and life. Countering both the streamlined forms of industrialized objects and the bombastic nature of much public sculpture, these amorphous works often recall childlike drawings or twisted intestines with their contorted spirals and curves. Their monochrome surfaces are painted in lurid, unnatural colors like bubblegum pink and lemon drop yellow—shades the artist claims were inspired by children’s pajamas, public bathrooms, and other unexpected sources. From February 15 through 18, viewers are invited to sit on Green Fortune during gallery hours.
Franz West, Green Fortune, 2008 © Archiv Franz West and © Estate Franz West. Photo: Jeff McLane
Art Basel Miami Beach 2022
December 1–3, 2022, booth D5
Miami Beach Convention Center
Gagosian is pleased to present a selection of modern and contemporary works at Art Basel Miami Beach 2022. Returning to Miami for the fair’s twentieth anniversary, the gallery is honored to have participated each year the fair has been held.
Gagosian’s booth at Art Basel Miami Beach 2022. Artwork, left to right: © Gerhard Richter; © Amoako Boafo; © Richard Prince; © 2022 Judd Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Richard Diebenkorn Foundation; © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; © Stanley Whitney. Photo: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano
Art Basel 2019
June 13–16, 2019, booth C9
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel, presenting works by Georg Baselitz, Joe Bradley, Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Urs Fischer, Ellen Gallagher, Alberto Giacometti, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Jeff Koons, Man Ray, Albert Oehlen, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, Tom Wesselmann, and Franz West, among others.
To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org. To attend the fair, purchase tickets at artbasel.com.
Jeff Koons, Sacred Heart (Magenta/Gold), 1994–2007 © Jeff Koons
“Grandi quadri miei con piccoli quadri di altri”
September 5, 2021–February 20, 2022
Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
In this exhibition, Albert Oehlen: “Big Paintings by Me with Small Paintings by Others”, select works from Oehlen’s personal art collection are on view alongside some of his most significant paintings. In staging this large-scale exhibition, Oehlen aims to make relationships perceptible between his artworks and those by artists whose practices he has long admired. Work by Richard Artschwager, Willem de Kooning, Duane Hanson, Mike Kelley, and Franz West, among others, is included.
Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 1997/2005 © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Lothar Schnepf
Art of the Eighties
October 17, 2021–February 13, 2022
Albertina Modern, Vienna
Some consider the 1980s to be the most important decade for the art of our age. For the first time, art was no longer determined by a dominant style, such as abstraction or Pop, but rather embodied an unprecedented stylistic pluralism that was a hallmark of postmodernism. This exhibition, curated by Albertina Modern director Angela Stief, examines the variety of artistic approaches and strategies that defined the era. Work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Albert Oehlen, Richard Prince, Andy Warhol, and Franz West is included.
Installation view, The 80s: Art of the Eighties, Albertina Modern, Vienna, October 17, 2021–February 13, 2022. Artwork, left to right: © Jiří Georg Dokoupil, © Hubert Schmalix, © Albert Oehlen. Photo: © Ana Paula Franco/Albertina, Wien 2021
May 7–September 19, 2021
Albertina Modern, Vienna
Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this exhibition features more than a hundred contemporary artworks from the Albertina’s collection organized into seven different “chapters” conceived as independent yet loosely connected “worlds.” Work by Georg Baselitz, Katharina Grosse, Anselm Kiefer, Roy Lichtenstein, Albert Oehlen, Andy Warhol, and Franz West is included.
Georg Baselitz, B. für Larry (Remix), 2006 © Georg Baselitz 2021
The Paradox of Stillness
Art, Object, and Performance
May 15–August 8, 2021
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Featuring works from the early twentieth century to today, The Paradox of Stillness examines the notion of stillness as both a performative and a visual gesture. More than sixty-five artists present object-based art, pictures, and actions staged by live performers to test the boundaries between stillness and motion, mortality and aliveness, and the still life and the living picture. Work by Urs Fischer, Piero Manzoni, Tom Wesselmann, and Franz West is included.
Urs Fischer, Untitled, 2003 © Urs Fischer