Franz West

(b. 1947)

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(1947– )

Austrian sculptor, born in Vienna. As a young artist he was interested in Minimalism, even though in Austria he could only see such work in photographs. He started to make what he called ‘Pass‐stücke’ (‘adaptives’, literally ‘passport pieces’). These were concave and convex forms which the viewer could pick up and move around. West described this as like a ‘do-it-yourself body art’. Much of West's sculpture is visibly hand-crafted, made of material like plaster or papier mâché and roughly painted. He has also made anti-functional furniture, which operates as art. Public works have included sculpture in lacquered aluminium, temporarily installed in the Lincoln Center, New York, in 2002. Despite their resemblance to intestines, according to Eleanor Heartney, ‘the public happily sat on and climbed over these works’. The visceral qualities of West's sculpture have prompted comparisons to the Vienna Actionists who dominated the Austrian scene when West was a young artist. Although West has said ‘I'm not a member of that school, I'm not a member of that generation', he has also equated his sculpture with bones and meat.

Further Reading

I. Blazwick, J. Lingwood, and A. Schlieker, Possible Worlds (1990)

Subjects: Art.

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