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Franz West
Current Museum Retrospective
September 2018
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

September 12–December 10, 2018

The Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris presents a comprehensive retrospective of the work of Franz West, who died in 2012. Curated by Christine Macel, chief curator at the Pompidou, and Mark Godfrey, senior curator at Tate Modern, London, where it will travel in February 2019, the exhibition spans West’s influential career and draws on major loans from institutions including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Museum Ludwig in Cologne, and MUMOK, Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, in the artist’s hometown of  Vienna.

The nearly two hundred works on view demonstrate the full breadth of West’s oeuvre, beginning with rarely seen drawings from the early 1970s and his first Passstücke (Adaptives)— the sculptures for which he became well known—to his papier-mâché works from the 1980s and Lemurenköpfe (Lemur Heads), made in the 1990s, as well his collages, furniture works, and collaborations with other artists. Several monumental open-air sculptures from the latter part of West’s career will be on view in the Pompidou’s lobby and in front of several other museums and institutions in the Marais district.

Showcasing the striking physical presence and formal qualities of his work, the retrospective also aims to explore the philosophical dimensions of the artist’s practice and its unique social sensibility. West grew up in Vienna in the aftermath of World War II—a period he described as "a very conflicted time"—and saw avant-garde performances by the Viennese Actionists during the 1960s. The aesthetic he developed in his own work engaged high and low cultural references in equal measure and encouraged direct interaction with art as a way to explore the positioning of the body and the status of art in daily life. With works that playfully manipulate everyday materials and imagery in novel ways, he created objects and installations that redefine art as a social experience, calling attention to the way it is presented and how viewers interact with works of art and, in turn, with each other.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue edited by Godfrey and Macel, which also features recollections from David Zwirner about meeting the artist and organizing his first solo show at the gallery in 1993.

Image: Installation view, Franz West, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2018. Copyright ©  Philippe Migeat - Centre Pompidou

Franz West: Where Is My Eight?
2013
Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna

February 23–May 26, 2013

In 2013, the Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (MUMOK) in Vienna presented Franz West: Where Is My Eight? (Wo ist mein Achter?). This was the second major exhibition of the artist’s work at the museum in his native city of Vienna following Franz West: Proforma, a midcareer survey in 1996. Both exhibitions were curated by Eva Badura-Triska.

Where Is My Eight? included some 150 works based on a preliminary selection drawn up by the artist before his death in 2012. The show focused on the Kombi-Werke (Combi-Works), in which West would combine existing works to create new installations; also included were individual pieces drawn from throughout the artist’s career, for example his Passstücke (Adaptives), furniture, sculptures, videos, works on paper, and pieces created in cooperation with other artists. As Faye Hirsch wrote in an extended article for Art in America, "The playfulness and wit that characterized West’s art throughout his career were much in evidence. . . . Walking through the show, one is struck as much by the work’s connection to Brancusi and Giacometti as to the anti-art impulses of Duchamp and Fluxus."

Versions of the exhibition were subsequently presented at the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt (2013) and the Hepworth Wakefield in England (2014), where West’s work was placed in dialogue with sculptures by the late Barbara Hepworth. "Playfully nestled alongside the elegant, anthropomorphic curves of Barbara Hepworth’s plaster prototypes," Louisa Elderton wrote in a review for Flash Art, "West’s Das Geraune (Murmuring) (1988) was veritably buzzing with energized textural surfaces and peep holes for the viewer’s eyes only."

The exhibition was accompanied by a publication with texts by Eva Badura-Triska, Klaus Goerner, Georg Grooelle, Peter Keicher, and Andreas Reiter-Raabe.

Franz West, To Build a House You Start with the Roof: Work, 1972–2008
2008
The Baltimore Museum of Art; traveled to Los Angeles County Museum of Art

March 12, 2009–June 7, 2009

Organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art, Franz West, To Build a House You Start with the Roof: Work, 1972–2008 surveyed nearly forty years of work by the artist. The exhibition showcased Franz West’s dynamic range of work, from his interactive Passstücke (Adaptives) of the 1970s to large-scale outdoor sculptures begun in the mid-1990s made from aluminum and painted in bright colors. In the catalogue accompanying the show, the curator Darsie Alexander recalls how "an exhibition [of West’s work] at David Zwirner, New York, in the mid-1990s kindled a spark that has ignited into this exhibition."

On the occasion of the exhibition, West produced a new outdoor sculpture, The Ego and the Id (2008). As Peter Schjeldahl wrote in The New Yorker, "West’s recent abstract, painted-aluminum sculptures . . . may be the most energetic and affable art for public spaces since Alexander Calder. . . . A new, colossal piece, created for Baltimore, is West’s strongest yet. The Ego and the Id, in two parts, deploys twisting, soaring loops in various toothsome colors, and sprouts stools for sitting."

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Chair, each: 33 x 17 x 17 inches (83.8 x 43.2 x 43.2 cm)
Sculpture: 18 x 18 1/2 x 20 inches (45.7 x 47 x 50.8 cm)

Materials 
Installation in three (3) parts with two (2) chairs (wood, paint, and metal) and one (1) sculpture (papier-mâché, paint, cardboard, gauze, and polyester)
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2625

Year 
1991/1999

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67 5/16 x 55 1/8 x 14 5/8 inches (171 x 140 x 37 cm)

Materials 
Papier-mâché, plaster, gauze, dispersion, wood, and iron
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Paravent (Passstück) (Screen [Adaptive])

Year 
c. 1982

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Dimensions vary with each installation, 27 x 21 x 17 inches (left Passstück) (68.6 x 53.3 x 43.2 cm), 29 x 16 1/2 x 10 inches (right Passstück), (73.7 x 41.9 x 25.4 cm), 1 x 87 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches (board) (2.5 x 222.3 x 59.7 cm)

Materials 
Papier-mâché, plaster, metal, and paint in two (2) parts with accompanying video and monitor on wooden board
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Passstücke (mit Video mit Verwendungstipps) (Adaptives [with video with usage tips])

Year 
1996

David Zwirner is pleased to present This Is Not a Prop at the gallery’s 525 and 533 West 19th Street locations in New York. The exhibition includes work by Alex Da Corte, Jonathas de Andrade, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jonah Groeneboer, Gordon Hall, Hannah Levy, Donald Moffett, Paulo Nazareth, Elle Pérez, Oren Pinhassi, Christina Quarles, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Franz West.

 

This Is Not a Prop brings together a multigenerational group of artists whose work explores the liminal space between body and object. The exhibition takes as its point of departure Franz West’s (1947–2012) furniture and Passstücke (Adaptives), which are represented in the show by three works: Paravent (Passstück) (Screen [Adaptive]) (c. 1982); 2625 (1991/1999); and Passstücke (mit Video mit Verwendungstipps) (Adaptives [with Video with Usage Tips]) (1996). Intended to be interacted with, these works redefine art as a social experience and ask how objects can function both as physical extensions of the body and as representations of the human experience.

 

This Is Not a Prop is organized by Alec Smyth and Cristina Vere Nicoll.

 

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Image: Viewers interacting with Franz West, Passstücke (mit Video mit Verwendungstips) (Adaptives [with Video with Usage Tips]), 1996, during the exhibition Franz West at David Zwirner, New York, 2014. © 2018 Archiv Franz West

Layout 
Alex Da Corte
Slow Graffiti (still), 2017
Single channel video projection, 13:00 min, color, stereo
Dimensions variable with installation
Hannah Levy
Untitled (detail), 2018
Nickel plated steel, silicone, and polyurethane
26 7/8 x 70 7/8 x 33 1/8 inches (68.5 x 180 x 84 cm)
Paulo Nazareth
Sem título (detail), 2011
Inkjet print on paper
8 5/8 x 11 3/8 inches (22 x 29 cm)
Jonathas de Andrade
Menosprezo / Belittle, por Oristes (installation view), 2017
Gordon Hall
Brothers and Sisters, 2018
Cast pigmented concrete, hand-dyed cotton, wood, hand-glazed tile mosaic, colored pencil, brick, and mortar
Dimensions variable with installation
Oren Pinhassi
Untitled (urinal #1)Untitled (urinal #2), 2018
Cement, burlap, glass, and metal mesh
Each: 58 x 20 x 45 inches (147.3 x 50.8 x 114.3 cm)
Elle Pérez
Binder, 2015
Archival pigment print
44 3/8 x 31 inches (112.7 x 78.7 cm)
Paul Mpagi Sepuya
Mirror Study (_Q5A2063), 2016
Archival pigment print
13 3/8 x 10 inches (34 x 25.4 cm)
Location 
Opening reception 
Wednesday, June 27 6–8 PM

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Dimensions 

Overall: 68 1/2 x 33 1/2 x 61 1/2 inches (174 x 85.1 x 156.2 cm)
Overall dimensions vary with installation

Materials 
Two artist tables and four sculptures; metal, wood, papier-mâché, gauze, plaster, and paint
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Telefonat (Phone Call)

Year 
1997
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FRANZ WEST

Telefonat (Phone Call), 1997

Two artist tables and four sculptures; metal, wood, papier-mâché, gauze, plaster, and paint 
Overall: 68 1/2 × 33 1/2 × 61 1/2 inches (174 × 85.1 × 156.2 cm)
Overall dimensions vary with installation

Emerging in the early 1970s, Austrian-born artist Franz West (1947-2012) developed a unique aesthetic that equally engaged high and low reference points and often privileged social interaction as an intrinsic component of his work. While he was known primarily as a sculptor, his body of work incorporated drawing, collage, video, and installation, using papier-mâché, furniture, cardboard, plaster, found imagery, and other diverse materials. 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.

While interactive work remained characteristic of his practice, West became increasingly interested in autonomous sculpture in the 1990s, creating a series of abstract, painted papier-mâché and plaster forms that rest on unusual supports, humorously playing with the notion of the sculptural pedestal. As described by Darsie Alexander, "there is a distinct look to West's work that defies quick visual digestion. Fundamentally sculptural in construction, it veers frequently towards the biomorphic and the prosthetic, mines the intellectualism of Freud and Wittgenstein, and possesses an awkward beauty that speaks with equal fluency to the aesthetics of painterly abstraction and trash art." Sculptures from this period are often supported by found objects that include rolls of tape and paint cans, among other common materials, or by pedestals that could easily also serve as cupboards or liquor cabinets (West leaves their use to the discretion of the owner).

The present work consists of two sets of brightly colored sculptural forms that resemble an abstracted telephone receiver and a cradle, placed on abutting studio tables as if in dialogue with each other. As the artist explained, "Artists are known to make 'telephone drawings' (they happen during telephone calls). The 'telephone sculptures,' on the other hand are left the way they are if one gets interrupted by a telephone call during their production. I would have labored on them further, but during the telephone call I look at them while 'my rational thinking' is sucked away through the telephone receiver. That way I often have a similarly strange impression as if I see sculptures again after many years; meaning: I ask myself how I made it just this way. I owe this unusual esthetic reception during the process of production, which otherwise would probably become 'the usual' due to the constraints of rationalization, to the installation of a telephone in my studio." 2

1 Darsie Alexander, "Franz West: What To Do?" in Alexander, ed., Franz West, To Build a House You Start With the Roof: Work 1972-2008. Exh. cat. (Baltimore: The Baltimore Museum of Art, 2008), p. 49.
2 Statement by the artist for didactic materials for The Carnegie International, 1995.

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Dimensions 

Overall: 91 x 33 3/4 x 41 1/4 inches (231.1 x 85.7 x 104.8 cm)

Materials 
Papier-mâché, plastic, plaster, glue, paint, and tape with painted wood and MDF artist's pedestal
Additional 

© Franz West

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Pleonasme (Pleonasm)

Year 
1999

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Dimensions 

65 1/4 x 95 x 11 3/4 inches (165.7 x 241.3 x 29.8 cm)

Materials 
Iron, wood, papier-mâché, polyester, and oil paint
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Photo Credit 

Collection of Lin Lougheed, loaned to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

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Selbiges (The Thing Itself)

Year 
1987

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