LOS ANGELES, CA.-
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
(LACMA) presents the west coast premiere of Franz West, To Build a House You Start with the Roof: Work, 19722008. The exhibition is the first comprehensive survey in the United States of the internationally acclaimed Austrian artist Franz West and includes more than a hundred objects that reflect the artists extraordinary innovations in sculpture, design, and paper. Franz West, To Build a House You Start with the Roof: Work, 19722008 will be on view at LACMA from March 12 through June 7, 2009.
LACMA is thrilled to showcase this pivotal artist who has challenged and redefined sculpture over the past thirty years, and continues to do so today, said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. The exhibition will provide our audiences a unique insight into Wests work.
Known for his intriguing sculptures, provocative collages, and ambitious outdoor installations, Franz West (b. 1947) has played a critical role in redefining the permutations of sculpture as a social and environmental experience for the past three decades. His manipulation of found materials, papier-mâché, and furniture is unlike any other in appearance and application. Though fundamentally sculptural in its construction, his work veers towards the biomorphic and prosthetic, mines the intellectualism of Freud and Wittgenstein, and possesses a sly wit and awkward beauty that speaks with equal fluency to the aesthetics of painterly abstraction and trash art.
West began his career in mid-1960s Vienna when a local movement called Actionism was in full swing. The artists earliest sculptures, performances, and collages were a reaction to this movement, in which artists engaged in displays of radical public behavior and physical endurance meant to shake up art world passivity. In the early 1970s, West began making a series of small, portable sculptures called Adaptives (Passstücke), awkward-looking plaster objects that were only completed as artworks when the viewer picked them up and carried them around, or performed some other inherently slapstick action with them. In many ways, his large-scale aluminum sculptures from the past decade are simply overgrown versions of the Adaptives, but they also relate directly to his furniture installations. West has the ability to make comfortable and colorfully upholstered couches and chairs which transform galleries, museums, and public spaces into lounge-like, sociable environments for viewing art.
Franz West, To Build a House You Start with the Roof: Work, 19722008 features rarely seen examples of Wests work drawn from European and American museums, galleries, and private collections. The exhibition is organized as a series of mini installations that invite visitors to encounter, and occasionally touch, a range of objects. The show includes examples of early Adaptives, human-scaled plaster sculptures, which West intends for visitors to handle. The exhibition also features spaces, which include cabinets, tables, and chairs that infuse the art environment with the culture of bars, cafés, and domestic life (1990s); papier-mâché groupings and an installation of free-standing sculptures; and stand-alone works that are as beautiful as they are precarious-looking (19801990s). Throughout the exhibition, groupings of Wests collages show the often cheeky and humorous influences of mass media, comic books, pop culture, and advertising.
The exhibition was organized by Darsie Alexander, former Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), and was presented at the BMA October 12, 2008 through January 4, 2009. The LACMA presentation is coordinated by Stephanie Barron, Senior Curator of Modern Art.
West lives and works in Vienna, where he was born in 1947. The artist has exhibited internationally for more than three decades in galleries and museums, and at major festivals including Documenta IX (1992) and Documenta X (1997), Kassel, Germany; Sculpture Projects in Münster (1997); and the Venice Biennale (1988, 1993, 1997, 2003, 2007). In 1997, The Museum of Modern Art presented West with a solo show. More recently his work has been exhibited at the Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofía (2001), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2003); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2003); and The Gagosian Gallery, London (2006) and Gagosian Gallery, New York (2008).