* 1947 Wien
† 2012 Wien
The sculptor, object and action artist Franz West was born in Vienna in 1947and began to study at the local academy of arts. Already during an early period, West abandoned painting and chose the collage as the basic medium of his further artistic productivity. The artist was inspired by the Vienna actionism and especially the body and material actions of Hermann Nitsch, Otto Mühl and Günther Brus. Without absorbing their contents directly, Franz West classified himself in a specific Austrian tradition in his art's body orientation and his interest in sounding psychological experiences. The focus on the body led beyond collages to sculptural works, which were made at first of paper-mâché, then of polyester and since the end of the 1980s of aluminium cast. In 1980, one of Franz West's ‚Passstücke' was exhibited for the first time. Designed as a portable sculpture, it was meant to constrain the body in its movement as a prosthesis-like limb extension. During the late 1980s West further developed his plastic concepts and intensified the spatial reference of the sculptures in installations of seating and loungers. West's works went beyond objects of utility, tested the area between art and everyday life and invited the audience to a haptic understanding of his art. In 1990 West took part in the 44. Biennial in Venice with a complex installation of fitting pieces and seating. The subject of body experience was also in West's focus at the documenta IX in Kassel two years later. With his ‚Lemurenköpfe', fetish-like reduced head forms with open mouths, West presented his ‚Animismusstudien'. Several participations in international one man and group exhibitions followed. West installed the picture wall ‚Demand of Sense' for the documenta X (1997), in which the artist presented a chronology of his own productivity as transitory and referred to possible cohesions. Franz West died 2012 in Vienna.