Franz
West

1947 - 2012

The oeuvre of Franz West can be divided into the following groups of works: visual art such as drawings and collages, “Passstücke” (“adaptives”), sculptures, furniture and installations, which West mainly assembled from the aforementioned groups.

Franz West referred to his useable sculptures as “Passstücke” – a German technical term for “fitting pieces” or “adaptives” (the artist’s preferred English translation) that can be adjusted to the most diverse needs. Affinity, linking and the ability to incorporate the viewer in the work of art are characteristics of these sculptures, which cannot be assigned any specific purpose. The instructions West often provided along with the works are only suggestions and not prescriptions for their use. The ambiguity and equivocality of the construct opens up an infinite number of personal points of contact to viewers. Franz West created new classifications that do not follow any traditional formal development but evolve in the creative process of processing objects of everyday life. They take shape through the changing of material. Wire, gauze bandage, plaster and paper – these are the layers from which the form emerges. West often invited assistants or fellow painters to contribute color compositions. Color lends the “adaptives” additional, dramatic dimension. The work of art becomes an event in itself and the sculptural function is emphasized even more.

As a logical extension of his “adaptives,” Franz West started to create his first pieces of furniture in the 1980s. A portable screen with a hole and chairs with forms accentuating the body and distinctive extensions were the first prototypes. West created the majority of his furniture sculptures because he did not like the furniture that was available and thus decided to make some for his own use. They function as useable furniture for the private sphere, on the one hand, and as furniture sculptures in museum exhibitions or as part of space installations, on the other. West’s aim was to incorporate viewers in his artworks, instigating them to actively contribute to their realization and completion. In the case of seating furniture, the inhibition threshold is very low and the comfortable posture makes it easier for recipients, as initiated by Franz West, to connect art with the terrain of idleness and leisure.

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