An exhibit being held at London’s Tate gallery featuring contemporary visual artist, Franz West is running through 2 JUNE 2019 and it features some of the artist’s most famous works. To help people understand the artist and his works, London Art Portfolio has decided to share some useful information and a glimpse into the life of one of Austria’s top visual artists.
Who Is Franz West
Franz West is a well-known Austrian contemporary visual artist. He made a name for himself in three dimensional designs such as sculptures and interior design concepts. He grew up in the 1950’s, in the aftermath of WW2 in Vienna. He described the period as a very conflicted time. During the 1960’s, he witnessed the avant-garde performances of various Viennese Actionists. He developed a unique aesthetic, which engages low and high cultural reference in an equal measure.
West studied under Bruno Gironcoli at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and started by creating drawings in the 1970’s and then worked on painting collages. His early works are seen as a direct response to the Viennese Actionism movement, which has been showcased in galleries and museums for more than three decades. Over the last couple decades, West had regular presence in various expositions, such as the Venice Biennale and Documenta. His works are usually made of aluminium, polyester, wire, papier-mache, plaster and various other common materials.
It Doesn’t Matter How An Object Looks, As Long As It’s Usable
Other than paintings, collages and sculptures, West has also created portable sculptures known as Fitting Pieces or Adaptives. His early sculptures cover common objects like pieces of furniture, machine parts, bottles and various other daily things. West expanded his work into oversized lacquered aluminium pieces in the late 1990’s, which were inspired by the Adaptives and Viennese sausages. Some of his works have been meant for lying and sitting on with their irregular patchwork surfaces and monochrome colors. West argued that it doesn’t matter how an object looks, as long as it’s usable.
Franz West’s Early Works
When appreciating the work of Franz West, we should start with his early drawings, Adaptives (Passtucke), papier-mache works and Lemur Head or Lemurenkopfe. The latter parts of West’s works include a number of monumental open-air sculptures, which can be seen in the Pompidou’s lobby and in front of various institutions and museums in the Marais district. The works of Franz West showcase unique quality and striking physical presence. It is also important to explore his unique social sensibility and the philosophical dimension of his practice when considering his body of work.
Franz West passed away in July 2012, in Vienna, Austria. He encouraged people to interact with his artwork directly as a way to explore art’s status in daily life and the positioning of the body. He playfully manipulated everyday imagery and materials in novel ways. West created installations and objects that redefine the art as effective social experience that calls the attention of the audience.
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