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Franz West: The 1990s


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Emerging in the early 1970s, Austrian artist Franz West (1947-2012) developed a unique aesthetic that engaged equally high and low reference points and often privileged social interaction as an intrinsic component of his work. By playfully manipulating everyday materials and imagery in novel ways, he created objects that serve to redefine art as a social experience, calling attention to the way in which art is presented to the public, and how viewers interact with works of art and with each other.

About the Author

Franz West (1947-2012) began exhibiting his work in the 1970s and gained international recognition in the 1980s, with significant shows at such venues as the Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz; Secession, Vienna (both 1986); Skulptur. Projekte in Munster (1987); Kunsthalle Bern (1988); and the Institute for Contemporary Art, PS1, Long Island City, New York (1989). In the 1990s, the artist's work was presented at the Austrian Pavilion of the 44th Venice Biennale (1990); documenta IX, Kassel (1992); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Dia Center for the Arts, New York (both 1994); and the Stadtisches Museum Abteiberg, Moenchengladbach (1996). A major, mid-career retrospective, Franz West, Proforma, was organized by the Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig (MUMOK), Vienna in 1996 (it traveled to the Kunsthalle Basel; Rijksmuseum Kroeller-Muller, Otterlo; Narondi Galerie, Prague; Muzeum Sztuki w Lodzi, Lodz). The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid presented the traveling survey Franz West: In & Out (2000-2001). Eva Badura-Triska is an art historian and curator at the Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig (mumok), Vienna. She is the author of numerous publications on modern and contemporary art, with a focus on Vienna Actionism, Franz West, and Heimo Zobernig. Badura-Triska curated West's first retrospective exhibition Franz West, Proforma (1996). She also curated West's first major posthumous show Where is my Eight? (2013). Since 1999, she has served as general secretary of the Franz West Archive. Veit Loers was director of the Stadtisches Museum Abteiberg in Moenchengladbach from 1995 to 2003. In 1996, he organized a solo exhibition of Franz West's work, Gelegentliches. Since his early retirement in 2003, Loers has worked as an independent curator and author. In 2009, he edited Franz West for the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection. Loers has also published several essays on artists and art theory. Bernhard Riff is the cofounder of Synema (Institute for Film Theory) in Vienna and has edited and contributed to a number of books. Since 1987, he has been making videos on art and artists, and in 1995, he founded his own video studio in Vienna. Beginning in 1989, Riff collaborated extensively with Franz West-their video works together include Investigations of American Art (1992), Otium (1998), and Thoughts for a New Art for the Homeland (2000).


"We live in Westworld. The artist's lump, informal, pomposity-puncturing objects set the tone for a huge amount of recent art production."--Martin Herbert "Artreview"
"West's dynamic work challenges traditional approaches to sculptural designs, functions, and displays, and continues to inspire artists."--Emory Lopiccolo "Whitewall"
Franz West "was the most loved and lovable of Austrian artists. Variously described as a prankster, a mischief-maker and a joke, he was above all engaging..."--Adrian Hamilton "The Independent"
Franz West's work is "nutty, subversive and intriguing."--Alice Rawsthorn "The New York Times"

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