Ocula MagazineContentsView All
Featured ContentView All
Sandrine Colard on the 6th Lubumbashi Biennale Ocula Conversation Sandrine Colard on the 6th Lubumbashi Biennale

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the largest Francophone nation in Africa with vast resources and nearly 80 million inhabitants, is a place where commodities play a vital role in the national economy and the country's significance on the world stage. This is the context from which the 6th Lubumbashi Biennale (24 October–24 November...

Fade out copy.
Read More
52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS Symposium Brings Ideas Offline Ocula Report
In collaboration with Artspace Sydney
52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS Symposium Brings Ideas Offline 13 Dec 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

From 20 to 21 July 2019, Artspace Sydney held a two-day symposium that brought artists in conversation with leading curators, writers, activists, academics, diplomats, and journalists from across Asia. The symposium was the final chapter of the 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS exhibition, publication, website, and Instagram project. Instigated and...

Fade out copy.
Read More
We Are Our Infrastructure, Argues Newly Announced Shanghai Biennale Chief Curator Ocula News We Are Our Infrastructure, Argues Newly Announced Shanghai Biennale Chief Curator 13 December 2019

The Power Station of Art will make a fitting location for Andrés Jaque, whose past projects expose the politics concealed by buried pipes and managed cables. Spanish architect, writer, and curator Andrés Jaque has been named the chief curator of the 13th Shanghai Biennale, which will take place at the Power Station of Art (PSA) from 13 November...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight
Sponsored Content | Mazzoleni Gallery
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy. Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

Fade out copy.
Read More
HomePage Artists

(1947 - 2012), Austria

Franz West Biography

Franz West was an Austrian artist who produced contemporary sculpture, collages, furniture and installations. These works—all colourful, light-hearted and engaging—vary in scale from small, mobile gallery pieces to large installations in public parks and other civic spaces. For much of his long career he regularly featured in major international survey shows across the globe. He often collaborated with leading contemporary artists such as Sarah Lucas and Douglas Gordon, as well as younger artists like Anselm Reyle. West's work can be found in major public and private collections throughout Europe and the United States.

Read More

Born to communist parents in Allied-occupied post-war Vienna, West did not engage in artistic pursuits until he was well into his 20s. He had initially been studying civil engineering but dropped out in the mid-1960s to travel around Europe and the Middle East. He started making art—drawing, then sculpture and performance—around 1970, though he was at this point without any formal training. In 1977 West returned to Vienna to study art under Bruno Gironcoli at the Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1982. He was exposed to the performance art of the Viennese Actionists in the 1960s and 1970s, but rejected their insistence on provocative, violent ordeals and complex existential intensity. Instead he sought something more accessible. The theme of communication and interaction is present in all of West's work as he sought to disrupt the traditionally passive relationship between art viewers.

West's choice of materials is indicative of his rejection of high culture's pretentions. He made his art from plaster, papier mâché, wire, aluminium, styrofoam and carpet: materials one might expect to find in the home, the workshop or a typical school art room. In all of West's works his creative process is left visible; nothing is perfect or smooth. It is often said that he felt it does not matter what art looks like but how it is used.

West's earliest series of signature sculptures were the 'Adaptives' ('Passstücke') from the late 1970s. These small objects—made of plaster or papier mâché and painted white—were abstract forms ergonomically designed to be worn. Functioning as extensions of limbs, their completion as art could only come by the viewer adorning and performing with them. Some of the exhibited 'Adaptives' were supplemented with videos of people wearing them. The 'Adaptives'—made from non-traditional materials and roughly aligning form and function by encouraging viewer participation—became the foundation of the artist's practice.

From the 1980s, West's biomorphic sculptural forms began to develop in scale and size, translating into grand, painted or lacquered metal works and installations. The greatest manifestations of this were his later outdoor works such as The Ego and the Id (2008), with their colourful, spindly, snaking and bulbous forms. His vividly painted, organic, abstract papier mâché works such as Untitled (painted by Herbert Brandl) (1988) also developed into large-scale, imposing pieces like Untitled (large sculpture with can) (2009) and Lemur (2009).

Rising to prominence in the mid-1980s, West also began to produce and exhibit furniture as both installation sculptures and interventions in museum spaces. Initially, influenced by the early-20th-century design ethic of the Vienna Secessionists, he welded together pieces of scrap metal in a collage-like technique to make furniture resembling his 'Adaptives'. This approach is visible in the 2.1-metre piece, Untitled (2010), with its patchwork of lacquered aluminium sheeting. By the late 1980s West produced more familiar designs for tables, chairs, lamps and other domestic objects. Not intended as examples of cutting edge furniture design, some were too flimsy to be functional. Continuing this into the 2000s West made furniture such as Nannerl (2006)—composed of colourful coco mat, carpet on a steel frame—and provocatively introduced such pieces into exhibitions.

West's first large-scale public installation, Auditorium (for the 1992 documenta IX), consisted of 72 sofas—made from metal frames, ornate Turkish rugs and foam—as seating for a parking lot cinema. Most of his large-scale installations contain humour or playfulness. In Etude de couleur (1991) a colourful, panelled catwalk led to a functional urinal, highlighting the importance of colour while nodding to the heritage of Duchamp.

West also worked with two-dimensional media. From the 1970s through to the late 2000s, he produced collages, combining advertising imagery with abstract compositional arrangements. From the mid- to late 2000s, West utilised painting and collage techniques in the 'Poster Designs' that accompanied his exhibitions. The promotional design became an autonomous picture displayed in the show. The details of the exhibition referred to—the show's title, venue, date and other relevant information—became the subject matter. The 'Poster Designs'—both about the show and in it—implicated the viewer in the art.

Biography by Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2010

Current Exhibition
6 November–22 December 2019

Franz West Furniture Online Viewing Room

Franz West Featured Artworks

View All (32)
Untitled (large sculpture with can) by Franz West contemporary artwork
Franz WestUntitled (large sculpture with can), 2010 Papier mâché, styrofoam, acrylic lacquer, can
132 x 104 x 95 cm
Lévy Gorvy Enquire about this work
Römische Allüre by Franz West contemporary artwork
Franz WestRömische Allüre, 1984–1985 Metal, plaster, gauze, paper mâché and paint. 3 parts
Lévy Gorvy Enquire about this work
Liege (Chaise) by Franz West contemporary artwork
Franz WestLiege (Chaise), 1989 Metal
28 1/4 x 28 1/2 x 77 inches
David Zwirner Enquire about this work
Trog (Trough) by Franz West contemporary artwork
Franz WestTrog (Trough), 1996/2015 Steel, foam, and linen
31 1/2 x 66 7/8 x 27 1/2 inches
David Zwirner Enquire about this work
Sinnlos (Senseless) by Franz West contemporary artwork
Franz WestSinnlos (Senseless), 2008/2016 Steel and synthetic resin paint
15 3/4 x 78 3/4 x 3 7/8 inches
David Zwirner Enquire about this work
Textilstuhl (Textile Chair) by Franz West contemporary artwork
Franz WestTextilstuhl (Textile Chair), 2012/2015 Steel, foam, linen, and paint
33 7/8 x 19 5/8 x 19 5/8 inches
David Zwirner Enquire about this work
Kunstlerstuhl (Artist's Chair) by Franz West contemporary artwork
Franz WestKunstlerstuhl (Artist's Chair), 2006/2016 Stainless steel, epoxy resin, and acrylic lacquer
34 5/8 x 20 1/8 x 21 1/4 inches
David Zwirner Enquire about this work
Kunstlerstuhl (Artist's Chair) by Franz West contemporary artwork
Franz WestKunstlerstuhl (Artist's Chair), 2006/2015 Stainless steel, epoxy resin, and acrylic lacquer
33 1/2 x 20 1/8 x 21 1/4 inches
David Zwirner Enquire about this work

Franz West Current & Recent Exhibitions

View All (9)
Contemporary art exhibition, Franz West, Franz West Furniture Online Viewing Room at David Zwirner, New York
Open Now
6 November–22 December 2019 Franz West Franz West Furniture Online Viewing Room David Zwirner
Contemporary art exhibition, Albert Oehlen, Franz West, Christopher Wool, Ride the Wild at Lévy Gorvy, London
Closed
2 October–28 November 2019 Albert Oehlen, Franz West, Christopher Wool Ride the Wild Lévy Gorvy, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Dieter Roth, Franz West, Dieter Roth and Franz West at Hauser & Wirth, Zurich
Closed
15 March–4 May 2019 Dieter Roth, Franz West Dieter Roth and Franz West Hauser & Wirth, Zürich

Franz West Represented By

Franz West In Related Press

View All (10)
Too Big for a Booth? Art Basel Still Has Room for Your Art Related Press Too Big for a Booth? Art Basel Still Has Room for Your Art The New York Times : 11 June 2019

Since it was begun in 2000, Unlimited , which is offered only at the fair in Basel, has proved to be a particularly popular draw. Most people attending the fair–there were 95,000 last year–are expected to visit the section, not only for the sheer wow factor of the works, but also for the relevance of its offerings. 'I often tell people that...

Fade out copy.
Read More
On my radar: Sarah Morris’s cultural highlights Related Press On my radar: Sarah Morris’s cultural highlights The Guardian : 31 March 2019

Born in Kent in 1967, the artist Sarah Morris grew up in Rhode Island and now lives in New York. She studied at Brown and Cambridge universities, and is known for her abstract geometric paintings and non-narrative films on architecture and the city. She has had solo exhibitions in Berlin, Paris, Frankfurt and Bologna, and in 2001 received a Joan...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Sarah Lucas disrupts Franz West’s Tate Modern survey in off-kilter meeting of art provocateurs Related Press Sarah Lucas disrupts Franz West’s Tate Modern survey in off-kilter meeting of art provocateurs Wallpaper* : 19 March 2019

The first posthumous UK retrospective of Austrian artist Franz West has surfaced at London's Tate Modern following a run at the Centre Pompidou. A chronological compendium of work spans the artist's anarchic career, curated by Mark Godfrey and Christine Macel with scenography by British artist Sarah Lucas. This month, West is infecting London at...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Franz West at Centre Pompidou, Paris Related Press Franz West at Centre Pompidou, Paris ArtReview : 1 December 2018

Emerging in an early-1970s Viennese art scene dominated by the legacy of the Wiener Gruppe and the meteoric rise of the Actionists, Franz West, unsurprisingly, was a loner for much of his career. A great believer in the potency of pleasure, he approached artmaking with a playful, mind-drifting everydayness, fusing it with social functionality –...

Fade out copy.
Read More

Be among the first to know when new artworks and exhibitions by Franz West are added to Ocula.

WeChat

Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

Scan to follow Ocula on WeChat.
iCal GoogleYahooOutlook