© Franz West

Photo of Victor Misiano with Franz West's Labstück, 1991
plaster, gauze, metal
Photo credit: Octavian Trauttmansdorff

Franz West

Franz West's art emerges from the history of Viennese Actionism, an art movement in the 1960s in which Austrian performance artists engaged in theatrical and violent actions intended to offer a cathartic shock to the conservative citizens of post-war Austria. West has similarly emphasized the human body as a key component of his art, but his notions of the grotesque and his wickedly subversive humour pointed a way beyond the work of his predecessors. Today, Franz West is among Europe's best-known contemporary sculptors, and his influence on a younger generation of artists is widely recognized.

This exhibition will examine three closely related aspects of his work - "Passstücke" (Adaptives), sculpture and furniture. West's "Passstücke" or Adaptive sculptures are intended to be handled and worn by Gallery visitors.

They act as deforming prosthetics that extend the scope, garble the gesture and imbalance the posture of each viewer/performer. The "Passstücke" are presented in a variety of contexts, and visitors are invited to handle and pose with them. West's sculptures range widely in size but are consistent in form - grotesque lumps of papier mâché, plaster or pieced metal. These awkward objects either sit directly on the floor or balance precariously on a ready-made plinth.

The sculptures seem to propose a parody of traditional sculpture, but at the same time, there is a melancholic sensibility to the work that suggests a longing for sculpture that will occupy a real and tangible space in the world. West's furniture is closely related to the "Passstücke", in that the furniture, which is strategically placed in the Gallery, is intended to affect and reorient the viewer's perception of other works and create a psychological awareness of their actions as viewers.

Franz West is a renowned Austrian artist who lives and works in Vienna. He has exhibited worldwide since the mid-1970s and has contributed work to Documenta IX and X, the Venice Biennale and Skulptur Projekte Münster. Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; the Gagosian Gallery, New York and London; the Renaissance Society, Chicago; the Kunsthalle, Basel; and the Rooseum, Malmö.

Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery. The support of the Austrian Cultural Forum is gratefully acknowledged.

Exhibition: May 28 - September 12, 2005
Gallery hours: Mon-Sun & Holidays 10 am - 5:30 pm

Vancouver Art Gallery
750 Hornby Street
CAN-Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7
Telephone +1 604 662 4719 (24-hour Infoline)
Fax +1 604 682 1086