Franz West (1947-2012) studied in Vienna at the Academy of Applied Arts. Belonging to the generation of artists exposed to Actionist and Performance Art
of the 1960s and 70s, West instinctively rejected the traditionally passive nature of the relationship between artwork and viewer. Being equally opposed to the physical ordeal and existential intensity insisted upon by his performative forbears (such as Vienna Actionism
), he made work that was vigorous and imposing yet free and light-hearted, where form and function were roughly compatible rather than mutually exclusive. In the seventies, he produced the first of the small, portable, mixed media sculptures called Adaptives
). These “ergonomically inclined” objects become complete as artworks only when the viewer holds, wears, carries or performs with them. Transposing the knowledge gained with these formative works, he explored sculpture increasingly in terms of an ongoing dialogue of actions and reactions between viewers and objects in any given exhibition space, while probing the internal aesthetic relations between sculpture and painting.
West's work has been a fixture in countless international survey exhibitions such as Documenta and Biennales all over the world, and it is included in major public collections including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and MAXXI, Rome. West was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011.