Franz West

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Franz West
Franz West (2009)
Born (1947-02-16)16 February 1947
Vienna, Austria
Died 26 July 2012(2012-07-26) (aged 65)
Vienna, Austria[1]
Education Academy of Fine Arts Vienna
Known for Sculpture, Painting, Drawing
Notable work The Ego and the Id
Movement Contemporary art
Awards Otto Mauer-Preis (1986), Skulpturenpreis der Generali Foundation (1993), Wolfgang-Hahn-Preis, Museum Ludwig (1998)
Grave of honour of Franz West at Zentralfriedhof, Vienna
Flause (1998); Aluminium
Lemurenkopf (Aluminium and white paint) 2001, (lemurs head; one of four lemurs heads), Stubenbrücke, Vienna, (close to Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna)

Franz West (16 February 1947 – 25 July 2012) was an Austrian artist.

Early life and education[edit]

West was born on 16 February 1947. His father was a coal dealer, his mother a dentist who took her son with her on art-viewing trips to Italy.[2] West did not begin to study art seriously until he was 26,[3] when, between 1977 and 1983, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna with Bruno Gironcoli.


West began making drawings around 1970 before moving on to painted collages incorporating magazine images that showed the influence of Pop Art.[2] His art practice started as a reaction to the Viennese Actionism movement has been exhibited in museums and galleries for more than three decades.[4] Over the last 20 years he had a regular presence in big expositions like Documenta and the Venice Biennale.[5]

West's artwork is typically made out of plaster, papier-mâché, wire, polyester, aluminium and other, ordinary materials. He started to produce paintings, but then turned to collages, sculptures, portable sculptures called "Adaptives" or "Fitting Pieces", environments and furniture – "welded metal chairs and divans, some minimally padded and upholstered in raw linen."[5] For his early sculptures, West often covered ordinary objects—bottles, machine parts, pieces of furniture and other, unidentifiable things—with gauze and plaster, producing "lumpy, grungy, dirty-white objects".[6]

In the late 1990s, West turned to large-scale lacquered aluminum pieces, the first (and several after) inspired by the forms of Viennese sausages, as well as the shapes of the Adaptives. With their monochrome colors and irregular patchwork surfaces, these works were also meant for sitting and lying.[2]

The Baltimore Museum of Art with help from former Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Darsie Alexander, hosted the very first "comprehensive survey" to ever been done in the U.S. of Franz West's artwork which contained his latest artwork designed specifically for the Baltimore Museum of Art, The Igo and the Id.[8] – which "consists of two configurations of rumpled, ribbon-like loops rising some 20 feet high. One is bright pink, the other neatly painted in blocks of green, yellow, blue and orange. Both have round stools projecting from the lower ends of the loops."[5]

For the season 2009/2010 in the Vienna State Opera Franz West designed a large scale picture (176 sqm) as part of the exhibition series "Safety Curtain", conceived by museum in progress.[9]

Throughout his career, West engaged in collaborations with other artists, such as conceptual Artist Bernhard Cella,[10] conceptual artist Douglas Gordon, musician Fred Jellinek, furniture maker Mathis Esterhazy,[11] and the artist Tamuna Sirbiladze (West's widow).[3] For another exhibition in 2012, West collaborated with fellow artist Anselm Reyle on a series of furniture sculptures.[12]


Around 1980 West started to create "plaster objects, usually a few feet long, meant to be placed over the face, worn around the waist or held in the crook of the neck. Although they suggest masks and props for the commedia dell'arte, their shapes are usually ambiguous: no matter how figurative and sexual Mr. West's objects may be, they remain abstract. The pieces can be worn on the street or carried like a partner in an enraptured solipsistic dance. They leave the wearer looking both protected and trapped."[13] His friend Reinhard Priessnitz called these "Passstücke", which was rendered into English as "Fitting pieces"; but West came to prefer another translation, "Adaptives".[14]



Personal life[edit]

West was married to the Georgian artist Tamuna Sirbiladze.

Art market[edit]

West was represented by Gagosian Gallery, Galerie Meyer Kainer, Vienna, and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich until his death in 2012. His estate continues to be represented by Gagosian Gallery. At Frieze Art Fair in 2011, West curated the Gagosian Gallery's booth. A portrait of West made by Rudolf Stingel sold for a price of more than $500,000.[16]


External video
Lips, Philadelphia Museum of Art[17]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c Roberta Smith (July 26, 2012), Franz West Is Dead at 65; Creator of an Art Universe New York Times.
  3. ^ a b Christopher Knight (March 31, 2009), Review: Franz West at LACMA Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c Johnson, Ken, "Sculpture That Asks You to Set a Spell", New York / Art & Design / Art Review, 19 December 2008
  6. ^ Ken Johnson (November 26, 2004), Franz West -- 'Early Work' New York Times.
  7. ^ Smith, Roberta, "Designers for a Day: Sculptors Take a Turn", New York / Art & Design / Art Review, 10 September 2004
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Safety Curtain 2009/2010", museum in progress, Vienna.
  10. ^ [2]/blog/cat/salon/post/west/], Wests Collaboration with Cella
  11. ^ Michael Brenson (June 21, 1991), 2 Austrians Who Find Anxiety in the Familiar New York Times.
  12. ^ Anselm Reyle/Franz West: Stolen Fantasy, March 23 - April 22, 2012 Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin.
  13. ^ Brenson, Michael, "Franz West, With Whom Neatness Doesn't Count", New York / Art & Design / Art Review, 16 June 1989
  14. ^ Hirsch, Faye (2013-06-05). "Opus Posthuous". Art in America. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  15. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 2020. Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  16. ^ Scott Reyburn (October 13, 2011), Elle Macpherson Browses Frieze, $1.4 Million Rauch Leads Sales Bloomberg.
  17. ^ "Lips". The Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden. Philadelphia Museum of Art. 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2013. 
  18. ^ Extroversion, Schlebrügge.Editor, Vienna 2011.

17.^ Elaine A. King,"Euphoric Sculpture: A Conversation with Franz West," Sculpture Magazine, June 2009, Vol.28, No. 5

External links[edit]