Franz West

The best artworks measure the distance between the past and the present by reminding us of what has changed—inflections on a standardized vocabulary deriving from the particularities of historical time.

Franz West’s sculpture and collage works occupy the extended present of the post-war period. Partaking of a sensibility similar to his fellow Austrians, the Viennese Actionists, West rejects their extreme form of existential histrionics for a more lighthearted—and for that reason maybe more problematic—kind of self-abasement. His work embraces the spectrum of recent creative endeavour, anticipating and participating in contemporary trends—from hippie utopianism through pathetic (slacker) art to the current vogue for the relational aesthetics of audience participation.

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